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Integrating design and translation: a no-brainer, frankly

There are immense savings to be made – and efficiencies created – by giving your language service provider (LSP) control of the desktop publishing (DTP) of the documents you need to be translated.

There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, quality control and review costs are negligible since DTP and translation are in the hands of the same team. This in turn means that delivery times are reduced, productivity increased and errors eliminated, a set of benefits which translate into enhanced efficiency and productivity, as well as significant cost reduction.

In addition, the initial cost of designing the layout pays off, as someone who is experienced in combining DTP and translation will ensure that it can be adapted to any number of different languages with the maximum ease. In the ‘traditional’ model, even if the design department adjust a layout to accommodate one different language, their lack of expertise in this field means that there in no guarantee that the adapted layout will work with a third, fourth or fifth language. Even adapting the original layout to fit one translation is horrendously expensive – horrendous because it is totally avoidable.

Let’s take a concrete example. A company has a 500 page technical manual created with Adobe InDesign. It has an auto-generated table of contents, cross-references, index markers and imported graphics with multiple call-outs. All this is set up and finalised before it is sent off to the company’s LSP to translate into five different languages. No-one in the design or content teams at the company speak any one of these five languages, or at least not enough to sign off on a translation of them (someone may think they can, but that is another issue). Who, then, will be responsible for inserting the five different versions of the translated text into the text boxes and graphics, for ensuring that the index and cross-references are accurate, for re-flowing the layout and page breaks, and for regenerating the table of contents?

If you are working between two languages which are reasonably similar (Portuguese and Spanish, say), then it might just be possible, allbeit risky, for someone in the in-house design team of the company to handle it. But if you are working between two or more very different languages, or ones which use different scripts, the only way to do it is to go to an LSP which integrates translation with DTP.

In short, if from the outset you know that the layout for a document will be used for various different languages, there is no doubt that sharing the DTP work with a linguistic expert is the cheapest and most efficient way to produce it.

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