We’ve listed 7 ways to save time and money when producing localised print publications. From choosing a ‘black plate only’ process to inverting the layout and imposition for Right-to-Left languages these tips will stand you in good stead.

Get your language provider involved from the start

If you have in mind to get a publication localised into several languages it’s advisable to discuss your planned process with an experienced translation specialist before you start working on the original artwork. If that’s not possible do at least ask for advice before you have any text translated. Getting your language provider involved from an early stage will help them suggest the most efficient way to handle the translation, typesetting and output process. The tools we use are constantly evolving so even if you’ve done it many time before you might be surprised by something new.

Use Translation Memories (TM)

Translation Memory (TM) software provides cost savings on almost all projects. If your document will require future updates, simultaneous release of the original and translated versions, or online as well as print publication, then TM software is likely to bring significant reductions in cost and turnaround time, whilst ensuring terminology and stylistic consistency.

Not to be confused with machine translation, TMs keep a record of each segment of translation so the translator can translate similar segments of text consistently and more efficiently. Most TM applications also enable typesetting to be completed much faster than the traditional copy-and-paste method.

Do ask your translation provider to use TM software do send them all the artwork files before they get started on the translation.

Ensure a thorough check of the document before typesetting

Always have the translated text edited and proofread by a second person to minimize chances of errors on the printed files. This is an essential part of the process but it’s easy to overlook when looking to reduce costs. Your translation provider should specify whether editing and proofing is included in the translation price or if it’s an optional extra.

If your stakeholder or client wants to review the translation before printing you will probably need to send them the translation in MS Word format. Ask your language provider to convert the translated text from the TM format into Word documents for easy review.

Design your English artwork files with localisation in mind

When you design a document for a printed publication that, sooner or later, you intend to have translated and typeset in different languages, bear in mind the following:

  • As translated text can expand up to 30% or even contract in some languages, allow space and flexibility in the layout. If the design is tight your translation vendor may need to change the font size, kerning and leading when typesetting the translated text. Give clear instructions so they know what may and may not be changed.
  • Remember that not all languages or complex character sets can be handled by all applications. For example you should avoid using FrameMaker if you need your document translated into right-to-left languages. If you need Arabic, Hebrew, Asian or Indic languages it’s sensible to take advice before designing the original. There are ways to set any language in any application but extra work and extra costs may be involved.
  • Create a style sheet to ensure style consistency across the translated versions.

Ask your translation provider to deliver print-ready files

It’s convenient to have full control over your translated artwork files but be careful:

  • It’s often risky to print from files with editable text, as some foreign language fonts can perform differently depending on the operating system, application and font versions. Your QA team may not pick up corrupted characters in languages they can’t read.
  • It is safe to print from PDFs or files with text outlined. Outlining the translated text in Illustrator or InDesign ensures that you will be able to edit non-text elements, while the text will print correctly even if you do not have the language-specific fonts or plug-ins.

If you must retain the ability to edit the text yourself you should discuss this in advance with your translation provider. They will often not be permitted to send you the fonts they’ve used unless you pay for a licence, so it’s important to agree on the choice of fonts before they start typesetting.

Consider a ‘Black Plate Only’ process

With a litho print you can save 75% of the cost of plates by using the same C, M and Y plates for all languages and changing only the K (black) plate when printing each language. This should always be specified before starting the translation to ensure only elements on the black plate are changed, and you’ll need to instruct the designer of the original version to set up all text elements to appear on the black plate.

Give extra attention to right-to-left language prints

Right-to-left languages normally require the entire layout of each page to be inverted – it’s not enough simply to change the direction of the text. Your translation supplier’s typesetters will know all about this if they regularly typeset Arabic but it’s sensible to check exactly what you’re being quoted for. Remember that pages need to be imposed in reverse order, with right edge binding.

For more information on desktop publishing and typesetting services, please visit our dedicated page.

Please feel free to contact us to discuss your typesetting requirements.