Document layout is a step in the translation cycle that is rarely discussed, so we have decided to put together a comprehensive guide.
A document’s layout is the way it is arranged according to type and purpose. A financial statement, for example, must always follow strict, precise guidelines, whereas in advertising the layout is determined by the campaign’s creative vision.
In any case, DTP professionals in the translation industry have one task: to ensure that the layout of the translated document faithfully corresponds to the source text, i.e. the original.
How it works
Document layout requires great precision and attention to detail.
Those responsible for this task must carefully consider a number of different aspects, including:
- Graphic elements in the footer or header;
- Size of the margins;
- Type and colour of the font;
- Spacing between lines and individual letters;
- Size and position of images;
To work on those aspects and ensure an impeccable layout, an editable document is required, i.e. one that can be modified or at least scanned to convert it into editable text with the help of specific OCR (Optical Character Recognition) applications. These are the main tools that enable a DTP professional to do their work. Let’s take a closer look.
Generally speaking, we can divide software used for document layouts into two main areas depending on what is being processed: text and layout or graphic and multimedia elements.
The first category includes, for example, InDesign and Acrobat. The former is a professional publishing application that allows you to create layouts for print and web content. Acrobat is an application for displaying a layout the same on any type of computer. It is used for print preparation, and is usually noneditable.
The well-known Word, Excel and Power Point programs are part of this category. Knowing how to use the tools in the Microsoft Office suite is essential for those who work with graphic design and layouts. Files created and processed in these formats are undoubtedly the easiest and fastest to work on, which is why they are also preferred in most cases.
The second category includes software such as Illustrator and Photoshop: the former is used to design and process graphics ranging from print to purely digital use, while the latter is more specifically for processing photographs and digital images.
Another valuable working tool for a DTP (Desktop Publishing) professional is OmniPage, an application used to convert text from image format to editable format, which makes the layout process faster and easier. However, it must be remembered that conversions performed with these OCR (Optical Character Recognition) programs are not always successful. Scanned documents, for example, are much more difficult to read using this type of program, so sometimes symbols are detected rather than words, necessitating manual intervention by the DTP professional.
This is why, to avoid misunderstandings, it is always preferable to ask customers to send documents in an editable or readable format so as to reduce the margin of error and speed up the work.
Entrusting document layout to a translation agency is the best choice for those who need a graphically flawless translation.
The length of the translated document often increases or decreases relative to the original text, necessitating the intervention of DTP experts to adjust the layout and ensure that it remains faithful to the original.
To perform this task, the professional must meet certain requirements:
- specific training in graphic design;
- ability to use new software and technology;
- attention to detail.
This is supplemented by practical experience through which DTP professionals improve their observation skills and perfect their graphic design expertise.
Relying on DTP experts offers the great advantage of guaranteeing the document’s graphic quality, as well as its linguistic adequacy. Additionally, using a translation agency with an in-house DTP department also saves considerable time (and trouble) for the customer. DTP professionals at a translation agency have a good understanding of which elements require adjustment, which method is best to use in each case, and which tools are best suited to making all the necessary changes. This allows them to do a perfect job within a short time and to respect the customer’s schedule.
In conclusion, when it comes to localization, the layout is just as important as the translation. Like the words, the layout of the text also helps reflect the company’s brand. Since content and image go hand in hand, both require equal investment and attention.