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By OXO Innovation
March 21, 2022

Ask the Expert: Everything You Need to Know About Desktop Publishing

Ever wonder what desktop publishing is exactly or how a translation company deals with multimedia formats? We asked OXO’s Localization Engineer, Eduardo Gama, to give us the deets. Here’s what he had to say.

What is desktop publishing (DTP) in the context of localization? What are the main types of content that need DTP?

Desktop publishing is one of the last steps in the localization process when you’re working with documentation or multimedia formats, like a PowerPoint presentation, a brochure, an infographic, or an interactive training course. We use DTP to adjust or redesign the translated material so that it fits the original design or the client’s specifications.

The translated text is never exactly the same length as the original, so that’s why the formatting and design need to be adapted. We might also need to adjust things like page size according to the target market, such as changing from Letter format to A4.

Sometimes certain images or colours also need to be swapped out and adapted to the target audience. For example, when we adapted a brochure for educational tablets from European French to Canadian French, we not only changed some spelling and terminology, but also replaced images of typical French schools with images of typical Canadian schools.

The DTP team also steps in when the CAT (computer-assisted translation) tool introduces formatting errors, such as missing or misplaced tags, or when a document contains images that the translator can’t edit directly.

Why should a client rely on their language service provider (LSP) for DTP instead of turning to their in-house graphic designer or their marketing agency?

The LSP DTP process is specialized in handling multilingual formats that a local or in-house designer might have issues dealing with. They’re also close to the language specialists, so any changes required in the final format can be implemented and proofread quickly before delivery. This is handy if we need to validate the best place to break a line, for example, or if we need to ask the translator for a more concise translation because a certain segment is just too long to fit the design.

What is the best desktop publishing software?

In a standard DTP process, the best software is the same one used to create the original file, so less rework is necessary, and the source fidelity is maintained. Otherwise, the best software is the one that can better reproduce the source fidelity in case the source file is missing.

What are the main file formats you deal with? What’s the difference between them?

Ideally, we work with the same file format as the original documents. But when that’s not available, such as when the client only has a PDF file, the DTP specialist is responsible for recreating the file on a text editor software that can mirror that original formatting.

We deal mostly with InDesign documentation, as well as Word and PowerPoint. Any of these can also contain image files, which we process using Photoshop.

InDesign (indd file extension) and Word are text processors. They have a different focus on how text is dealt with, but InDesign is more focused on high-quality print production material or digital publishing, such as marketing brochures and digital workbooks for online courses.

Word (doc or docx file extension) is a text processor that can be used to generate documentation. It has a different market than InDesign and is much more compatible with multiple text editors.

PowerPoint (ppt or pptx file extension) is the standard presentation app on the market and is part of the Microsoft Office package.

Images are usually dealt with in Photoshop and saved in different formats according to the documentation requirements—typically jpg, png, or tiff.

Illustrator (ai or eps file extension) is commonly used to handle single-page flyers or infographics that use vectorized images and can, together with InDesign, be used to generate high-quality print material. It also generates vectors that are linked into InDesign documentation.

What training do you need to become a desktop publisher?

Knowing the standard text and image processors on the market, like InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and the Office suite, is the starting point. Some knowledge of software for creating interactive courses, such as Articulate Storyline, is also useful. On top of that, I would add some CAT tool training to be able to handle the most usual conversion errors and to assist translators and project managers while handling feedback implementations.

Got more questions?

If you have a DTP question that isn’t answered here or you want to learn more about OXO’s desktop publishing services, get in touch with us. We’d love to tell you more about it.

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