31 Oct 2018


When you contact a translation agency to start a translation project, do you sometimes encounter the Account Manager mentioning DTP a lot as a way to reduce costs? What is this DTP they keep talking about and how can it be useful for you? Let’s find out.

DTP stands for Desktop Publishing and it refers to the creation and re-creation of documents using page layout software in order to prepare them for translation, or to include the translated copy. Typically, this includes the combining and rearranging of text, tables, charts and images through computer software to produce documents such as newsletters, brochures, manuals, slide shows, books, etc.

If you need to translate a brochure, a booklet, a manual or any other type of document with images, charts or a set layout, then it will be wise to use DTP services, which would help adapt your content and images to a document-standard set, preserving your message across all markets.

For example, if you are starting with something like this:

And you want the brochure to look exactly the same in all the languages – it would be highly advisable to do the DTP before the translation step, so that you wouldn’t end up with this:

The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words never sounds more applicable than when it comes to the localization process. Selling products or providing services internationally requires more than just foreign language translation of content – it requires localizing the entire package, from text formatting and graphics localization to image placement. These vitally important visual alterations of translated content are accomplished through the process called desktop publishing (DTP).

Entrusting your precious materials to the team of experienced DTP specialists, who work with the latest technology and software, will ensure that the final result is not only pleasing to the eye with the look and feel of the source document, but that it also communicates visually in the target-language.

Usually you will find DTP services offered as a part of the complete translation process, but you can also use DTP services individually, for translations done by another agency or third party.

DTP can be a part of a localization process and its core ingredient as well. One of the important considerations in multilingual DTP is always the direction of the language, as this dictates the directionality of the images and the flow of the document. In Arabic language DTP, for example, the fact that the text is read from right to left and that images should follow this rule, does not mean that mirror images would do the trick in all cases.

The example below shows images “mirrored” during DTP, resulting in wrong representation of the icons.

In the original image, the sound was coming towards the vehicle. In the reversed one, it was moving away from the vehicle. Obviously, the way this was reversed was not a good DTP practice.

Why would these documents need DTP?

Most document translations require some type of desktop publishing to ensure that the final product’s appearance is as similar to the original document as possible. For documents with heavy graphics and a complex design layout, desktop publishing plays a vital role in ensuring that the translated text fits the original layout and graphic design. Otherwise, the final product, while translated correctly, could look unprofessional.

Another extremely good reason for doing DTP in the translation process is to prepare the documents for using CAT tools, thus allowing for the usage of translation memories and termbases, resulting in lower translation costs.


Can you do it yourself?

Yes, to a certain level, you can manage the formatting yourself, depending on your wizardry skills in Office, and knowledge of the target language, but it is not always advisable. If the text is formatted heavily, in particular with more complex formats, such as PowerPoint or Adobe InDesign, it is best to leave DTP to professionals. Doing it yourself will only give you headaches, without the guarantee of the high-quality output. Instead of saving money, you will end up frustrated, because you will waste too much time doing it on a trial-and-error basis and will ultimately realize that a professional could have done the work faster and cheaper.

And you definitely don’t want to end up becoming famous for something like this: