13 September 2022

DTP: What it is and how it works

Categoria: Linguistic Services

DTP is an acronym commonly used to refer to desktop publishing, which is one of the services provided by translation agencies like ours.

Transitioning a text from one language to another is not just a matter of words, but also of aesthetics and graphics. The translation process can affect the size and configuration of the text, impacting the document’s final layout.

This is why the presence of an in-house DTP department within the agency is a strength and a clear indicator of attention to quality of results.

Let’s take a closer look at what this involves.

Choose Way2Global to ensure a flawless document! Thanks to our DTP department, your high-quality translation is delivered in an eye-catching layout that stays true to the original.
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What it is

DTP is the department responsible for everything regarding translation layout. DTP operators have two main goals: to ensure that the text is readable and to meet the customer’s needs.

As mentioned, transposing a text into another language inevitably involves changes to the original layout. In translation, line spacing may be too narrow or oversized and some paragraphs, as well as sentences and individual lines, are often elongated or considerably shortened. All these issues are the bread and butter of DTP experts, who know how to handle them.

Making a text readable is a much more challenging task than you might expect. On the one hand, a broad perspective is needed to quickly identify what elements are impeding readability and enjoyment; on the other hand, a keen eye for detail is required. Fonts, images and graphics — it is attention to each individual component that makes the whole text easy and even a pleasure to read.

Graphics also serve to highlight certain words and modulate their impact and significance to suit the message being conveyed. This is a concept that is even more evident in advertising, in which layout is crucial to drawing viewers’ attention exactly where you want it.

The advertising example also perfectly illustrates the second goal of the DTP department: to respond to customer needs. The most important of these requirements is to ensure that the translated materials reflect the corporate brand identity. The visual element is a key component of a brand’s identity: Just think of the colors and logos of large multinational corporations that are well known to the public and the market. It is therefore crucial that the materials produced and disseminated by the company reflect the same image throughout the world.

Fulfilling these requirements necessitates solid training and experience in graphic design, which is why it is best to contact a translation agency with a team of in-house professionals in this field.

How it works

A DTP operator’s work is integrated into a professional agency’s work cycle alongside that of other specialists. The involvement of these professionals may in fact be necessary both upstream and downstream of the translation.

An agency that receives a translation request from a customer will, as one of the first checks in the feasibility review, ensure that they have an editable document, i.e., one that can be directly overwritten and modified. If the text is editable, it can be directly forwarded to the linguists, i.e. the team of translators, revisers and proofreaders. If not, it is assigned to the DTP department, which, through use of specific software and applications, makes the document editable and ready for the next stage.

While prior involvement of the DTP department is not always necessary, this is not the case downstream of translation. Often transposition into the target language leads to changes in the length of the document, so the layout must be readjusted to ensure that the text and graphics are aligned and consistent. This process is known as “formatting”, but it is not the only task performed by the DTP department.

In addition to finalizing the graphic layout, professionals in this department do creative work, especially if the projects involve the promotion and sale of products and services. Packaging, flyers and billboards are just a few examples of materials that require a major graphic overhaul to ensure they are aligned and consistent with the new target audience. This process is known as “localization”, i.e. an adaptation to the culture of the new target audience. The DTP department is therefore responsible for ensuring that the final product is compliant with and respectful of the cultural references of the new target audience, since otherwise the translation will be ineffective.

Translation and DTP therefore complement and enhance each other, which is why it is best to turn to an agency with an in-house DTP department. The involvement of graphic designers specialized in the language sector ensures a high-quality result and considerably reduces costs and delivery times compared to the alternative of looking for and managing another supplier to whom the graphic side of the translation can be entrusted.

At Way2Global, we have an in-house DTP department that works in collaboration with other departments and specialists in the translation cycle. Thanks to our experts and dedicated graphics software, we can process any type of format, ensuring perfect graphic design for any kind of document.

Contact us to request more information, free of charge!


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    Laura Gori is the Founder and CEO of Way2Global, a women-led translation agency startup with a Benefit ethos. After 30 years at the helm of a small multinational localization company, Laura decided to make a fresh start and founded Way2Global to conduct business in a way that benefits society and the environment, while promoting corporate growth. A fervent advocate of Benefit Corporations and women’s empowerment, Laura takes every opportunity to spread awareness on these issues and contribute to a fairer, more egalitarian and sustainable economy for all.
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