Signs and portents… why professional multilingual DTP matters!

Just finished one of our most interesting foreign language typesetting projects yet…

Of all our services, multilingual typesetting is probably the least understood. Many clients don’t really know what it does, or why it matters. So here’s a little case study.

A long-standing NGO client recently undertook a major facelift of its entrance area, including a range of message signage in over a dozen languages ranging from Amharic and Arabic to Burmese, Hindi and Krio.

But, each one has unique characters and setting rules, and works correctly in only a few fonts on properly set-up systems…

Foreign language DTP issues aren’t always obvious…

Having worked with us for many years the client pointed their designer to us to “check” the language provision – wise move, as we immediately spotted fundamental issues in the proposed layout and translations that we were able to catch early! Problems ranged from text going the wrong way, to completely scrambled characters – but all of them badly amiss.

2 weeks later we’d sorted all-new translations, and typeset them into revised Illustrator layouts (each proof-read by our in-country linguists). We then delivered as outlined vector graphics, made on the right systems for the language and press-ready. They look GREAT, and help make a superb entrance space for the refurbished area.

The thing to stress here is this: neither client nor designer knew they HAD a problem originally. The content looked “foreign” and to the untrained eye, looked OK. It really wasn’t…

If YOU’RE working with foreign language typesetting, do remember – there’s a HUGE gap between having a translation, and turning that translation into usable press-ready content. From supported character sets and encoding, single- and double-byte fonts and ligatures, through to the basics of text direction and where to break words, it’s a real minefield.

But it isn’t just “rare” languages. Even French and German – in fact PARTICULARLY French – are wide open to typesetting errors that make the product look naff, or even create actual errors for the reader. And THAT is not something you want when the print run is a million!

Like design, language is much more complex than people think. Combining language AND design brings a whole new gamut of things that can – and will – go wrong. So why not take a load off, save yourself stress or worse, and entrust this time-consuming pitfall-laden process to our 30 years of expertise and experience?

June 6, 2022 - Typesetting Uncategorized



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