Desktop Publishing: what it is and how it maximizes translation processes

Idea TranslationsBest PracticesDesktop Publishing: what it is and how it maximizes translation processes
Desktop Publishing: what it is and how it maximizes translation processes

Layout, graphic design and applied informatics have become fundamental allies of translation services, since they allow for the enhancing of linguistic skills with new technologies. Translation or localization projects usually include a “page layout” stage, whether this involves books, brochures, newsletters, manuals, guides, etc. Desktop Publishing (DTP) allows language service providers to remap translated documents. What is DTP and how is it different from graphic design?

A process that enhances translations

The Encyclopedia Britannica defines Desktop Publishing as “the use of a personal computer to perform publishing tasks that would otherwise require much more complicated equipment and human effort”. Today this methodology also includes the use of smartphones or tablets for the same purpose.

In addition to noting the low cost and ease of use involved, the encyclopedia definition adds that “desktop publishing allows a person to combine text, numerical data, photographs, graphics, and other visual elements into a document that can be printed on a laser printer or more advanced typesetting machine.” In turn, instead of several separate pieces of software, the most powerful DTP programs offer complete word processing and graphics functions.

There are currently more than 6,439 Desktop Publishing specialists employed in the US. 61.9% are women, while 38.1% are men.
Source: Zippia

As part of the editorial design, when it comes to translating content, DTP not only formats texts, but also creates or edits graphic and interactive elements. In the daily workflow, translators receive documents from clients in various formats, such as PDF, JPG, PNG, INDD, AI, among many others.

After completing the translation of the materials, the layout or remapping of the translated documents comes next. This is where the DTP comes into play, allowing the translated text to be imported and the layout to be worked on. In general, the aim is to emulate the original visual format, although sometimes clients’ needs may vary in this regard, especially when it comes to generating content for different geographies and cultures.

It should also be noted that, as a result of the translations, text length (number of words and lines), writing direction and punctuation often differ by up to 40% between the original and the target text. Handling formatting correctly, then, becomes a key step for any translation project.

The differences with graphic design

While DTP is the process of using the computer and specific types of software to combine text and graphics to produce documents, graphic design is defined as the process and art of combining text and graphics to communicate an effective message in the design of logos, graphics, brochures, newsletters, posters, signs and any other type of visual communication.

Although both processes share some similarities and tools, the truth is that DTP can be used by professional and specialized designers as well as by professionals from other fields with a knowledge of these tools that allow them to emulate the format of the original text to replicate it in the target language. It could be said that DTP, in the world of translation, is the element of graphic design that deals with the manipulation of formats so that they look the same as the original, but in different languages.

Newspapers and books are the industries with the highest employment levels of Desktop Publishers in the US, especially in Texas and New York.
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

“DTP usually puts the focus on creating a text message, normally integrated with graphic elements. Those components can be created by a graphic designer or a professional desktop publisher. Graphic design, on the other hand, is concerned with the graphic design that will convey the information,” says the Graphic Design Institute.

Beyond the differences with other processes, DTP has made its way into the translation industry by streamlining workflows and offering better solutions to organizations. Translation companies with a high level of quality, such as Idea Translations, usually have in-house DTP teams, since outsourcing this process often leads to delays in the final delivery of projects. To learn more about our DTP services, please contact us.

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