Why Digital Translation is Important for Desktop Publishing

In the 1980s, KFC got off on the wrong foot when opening its first stores in China. Due to a translation error, instead of “Finger-Lickin Good” they translated the famous slogan as “Eat Your Fingers Off.”

While this translation blunder is hilarious, it certainly did not give a good first impression.

As a standing rule of thumb – don’t pull a KFC, make sure you get a good translator. But there is more to translation than just words.

When designing any kind of media, you can’t pour text into a standard layout and expect it to fit. It needs to be arranged so that it looks as neat and tidy as the original version. And that’s where desktop publishing comes in.

But what exactly is a desktop publisher? And what is the importance of desktop publishing? Read on to find out the answer.

What Is Desktop Publishing?

For the uninitiated, desktop publishing (which is commonly known as DTP) is using computer software to create the layout of a page.

Think about a page from a magazine – it’s not only text. The page may feature columns, images, shapes, icons, and a variety of fonts. The entire composition gives the complete look.

The ultimate goal of DTP services is to deliver a document that looks like it was originally created in that language, not simply a basic textual translation.

The programs often used for DTP are:

  • Adobe InDesign
  • QuarkXpress
  • Adobe FrameMaker
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator

Programs such as Microsoft Word and Powerpoint may also overlap into desktop publishing.

Desktop Publishing and Translation Services

Hiring a translator and a website designer separately often does not work. Desktop publishing and translation services should consistently go hand in hand.

When translating a simple Word document, it won’t matter if the font looks different or if the words spill onto another page. The lack of formatting makes the process easy.

But when translating a document that has a specific layout, the process can be a challenge. This is because of the following five reasons.

Expanding Words

Many languages expand by 20-30% after translation. Trying to cram extra words may turn your well-designed layout upside down. This also affects bullet-point lists, paragraph breaks, spacing, and more.

Type Face Issues

In some languages, several typefaces do not support certain characters. Using the wrong typeface may cause significant issues in the text. This is a common problem with many Asian languages.


English speakers read from left to right. But many other languages read from right to left. Some languages read from top to bottom.

Image Tweaks

When images or logos have text, the dynamics will have to be tweaked. This will stop the text from running over the boundaries. It will also stop the text from repositioning weirdly or disappearing altogether.

A Little Respect

Design elements, colors, and images used for one culture may be disrespectful or offensive to another culture.

As you can see, translating the actual text is only a small percentage of the work involved.

The Importance of Desktop Publishing

DTP translation is important if the appearance is as significant as the text. This would be when translating websites, digital media, and printed marketing materials.

If your translation needs to be print-ready or screen-ready, then a desktop publisher is a worthwhile investment. And when you receive the final product, the likelihood of needing additional adjustments will be minimal.

Here are some reasons why DTP services are better than doing the work yourself.

Complex Characters

As noted, when a language is translated, it can expand or contract. It may need to be read in another direction or it can cause issues with fonts. A desktop publisher can solve these problems without ruining your layout.

For instance, with projects translated from English into French, the word count expands considerably. The text may need to be smaller or there may need to be adjustments in the white space.

Bi-directional languages, such as Hebrew may need more adjustments. For instance, you may need to resize graphics or you may need to flip the layout.

DTP publishers modify the layout and design elements to accommodate the differences in the best possible way.

Save That Dollar

Your in-house design team may be experts at what they do. But, if they’re working in a language they don’t understand, it could cause a lot of wasted time and money. Especially if it has to keep going to and from the original translator.

Because desktop publishers are experts in the field of translation, they can save you time and money in the long run.

Language Experts

But it’s not only about the money. Your in-house designers may create confusion or mistakes if the language is not correctly laid out. For example, they may neglect proper punctuation or use incorrect line breaks.

DTP services use language experts who can convey your message in the way you intend. They also have their own proofreaders who can double-check the work.

Cultural Expectations

You must also take into consideration respect for other cultures. Desktop publishers have specific knowledge about the intended target language. Their know-how can help them to optimize the project so that it fits the cultural expectations.

This may include flipping layouts, editing photos, or even color changes.

The Final Look

It may be tempting to think that hiring a translator is enough. But without DTP services, the final product may look like a complete mess. This will not only look unsightly but it will give a bad impression to viewers.

Many may reject your product due to its unprofessional look. And in extreme cases, you could even face a lawsuit. Hiring a desktop publisher will help you to sidestep these issues and complete a professional look.

Get Happy Customers

It’s clear to see that translation services and desktop publishing go hand in hand. Working with a desktop publisher will give you the best results and help you to avoid a KFC-level blunder.

If your project requires desktop publishing, you’ve come to the right place. Our expert teams of translators and desktop publishers are ready to help you create a masterpiece in any language you need. Learn more about desktop publishing translation.


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