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How to create a Multilingual Document

What are Multilingual PDFs and what are they for?

A multilingual PDF is a regular PDF file of your document, but which includes all the language versions you have translated into. The PDF features language ‘buttons’ enabling users to switch language with a click. For example, imagine you have a Sales Report which, naturally, needs to be read by all of your regional offices. You have, say, five languages and must therefore create five mailing lists in order send a different file to the employees of each office. With a multilingual PDF, however, you could simply send the same document to everyone, and your employees (or stakeholders) can choose which language they prefer. 

A multilingual PDF ensures all your teams, worldwide, are working to the same script, and all information reaches every client. Furthermore, instant switching between languages can be very useful to compare terminology, references, brand messaging, etc. This ensures Regional Managers can easily check that their locally produced information matches both the terminology, and the style and tone of the parent company.

Using Multilingual PDFs has multiple benefits

  • Convenient for quality control — you can easily review your translations.
  • Efficient for version control — all your language versions stay together in a single file.
  • When updating, changes to graphics — graphs, diagrams, etc — only have to be made once, to a single file.
  • Multilingual documents can also be useful for smaller regional offices, as you can provide translation alternatives for areas where the local language may not be supported.

Although we would be delighted to provide you with quality, professional translations 😉 — if you have already had your document translated, we can also create the multilingual PDF using your own translations.

The Process

First, we optimise the layout to ensure a clean switch between languages; we will need your original artwork, ie. the InDesign file. We also may tweak the layout to minimise the final file size — ie. photos and graphics only need to be included in the file once. Images or graphics which do not feature text, are ‘fixed’ elements — ie. the buttons change the language, but not the layout.

To select a language, we add a button, such as a flag icon, or another suitable indicator. We can create a language button for you, or you can provide your own graphics.

Finally, we add each translation to the document, and we format the final file for use. If required, we can also password protect the PDF file to prevent further editing.

Multilingual PDFs are useful for:

  • Multinational marketing or sales documents
  • Multinational Training Manuals
  • Multi-product Manuals or Catalogues
  • Multiregional internal documentation or reports.

Contact us to find out more!

Multilingual PDFs: Frequently Asked Questions

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