09 Jun/15

Part III: Ordering a Translation with InDesign Work? 7 Things You Need to Know

Translation in InDesign - EVS Translations
Translation in InDesign – EVS Translations

This four-part series looks at IT in the translation industry or, more specifically, what is known as translation engineering. Part I (IT Solutions for Your Translated Materials) considers the growing field of translation engineering against the backdrop of the industry as a whole, and looks at exactly what translation engineers do. Part II (How can a translation engineer help me?) looks at the work of translation engineers in more detail and what solutions they can offer beyond translation.

And now let us look at practical advices on preparing your materials for a translation that requires desktop publishing work.

EVS Translations offers desktop publishing solutions, but be aware that proper preparation at the client end is also important for a successful, high-quality outcome. If you’re looking for desktop publishing work in addition to translation, here is a useful guide for what to consider and what to provide our team with before the project begins.

What we need

1. In order to translate a PDF, we would ideally have the original file it was created with (e.g. InDesign as .indd or FrameMaker as .fm), along with all fonts and graphics that were used.

Why? The original file format will allow us to create your high-resolution, print-ready document using the original fonts and graphics. If we do not have this, it will therefore be more time-consuming and costly to recreate it, particularly if you require the document to be formatted afterwards.

Important points to consider

2. Text expansion. Many languages translated out of English, such as French and Arabic, can require up to 30% more space in the target document. Others, like Japanese and Simplified Chinese will often require less space, although by how much varies widely.

Text can expand not just in terms of length, but also in height as some languages need more space for their characters, regardless of text length restrictions. This is most notably the case with Asian characters where text can become too crowded and difficult to read if not enough space is left overhead.

In order for us to provide you with a document that looks just as good in the target language, we would need to check with you where the layout can be flexible, e.g. can a graphic be moved to accommodate longer target text, or can font size be adjusted? This will mean we can avoid issues such as too much or too little white space etc.

3. Fonts. Some fonts do not support certain languages and this means we would need to consider another font type, e.g. Calibri does not support the characters used in the Thai language. Where there should be text, blank boxes represent each character instead. In this case, we would perhaps use Arial, which does support these characters.

Additionally, we need to check that we have received all the fonts used in the document. Again, a missing font could mean we have to substitute it with a similar one instead.

4. Graphics. Again, we need to check that we have received all of these in order for us to create a high-resolution and print-ready PDF in the target language. If a graphic is missing, we will not be able to replicate it in the target document and the space where the graphic should appear will instead be a grey box. This means that, without a replacement or the original graphic, we would not be able to create a print-ready file.

5. Non-editable text. Is there non-editable text in the file that needs to be translated? If so, we would then need to create a graphics key. Depending on what form the non-editable text is in, e.g. in a graphic or a screenshot, we may or may not be able to incorporate the translations into the final document.

6. Tracked changes and comments. Do you want the translation to reflect the tracked changes as well? Do any comments added for reference also need translating? We need to consider this before translation begins to ensure we have the correct word count and the files for translation are prepared correctly. Once translation has begun, it becomes difficult and complicated to rectify the issue.

7. Layers. Should all layers be translated, including hidden ones? What about the text (if any) on pasteboard? Content that does not appear on the page, but is in the InDesign file will be picked up by translation software and included for translation, unless specified otherwise before translation begins.

(Note: all content on layers that are hidden will not be picked up by translation software and not included for translation unless specified otherwise before translation begins. We therefore need to know early on to make sure we are not overcharging the client, we get the correct word count and we prepare the file for translation correctly.)


Get in touch with our expert staff at EVS Translations about your desktop publishing requirements. They will talk you through the process and work to deliver you high-quality print-ready materials.