Translation and Language Industry Observations

Do you need a designer? How can working with a designer provide additional value to your clients?

Translators and PMs often encounter such situations when the translated text “does not fit” into the original document format. This can be for reasons such as text expansion, hieroglyphs, and when going from LTR to RTL languages. This situation is not common only to texts with graphics and illustrations but also to linear translations when the translation into another language has a different letter size, length, and text structure. Presentations, catalogs, annual reports, brochures, books, and other types of translations often require a translator to master layout, image processing programs, and many other non-core translating skills. The quality of the final result is not always acceptable by the customer.

I have prepared a checklist to help you understand if you, as a PM or translator, should think about working with a designer and at what stage of work a designer can be involved in your process.

You need a designer if:

  • Your clients want to receive the translation in the same form as the original.

This includes catalogs, brochures, and books, documents of any format, in addition to text, also contains visual elements. A professional designer will put the translated text and pictures in the required format, so an image matches the required section of the text. Especially if the translation is much longer than the original, it is necessary to use different types of characters or symbols like hieroglyphs or ligature.

  • You have already tried automatic programs, and they did not meet your expectations.

In most cases, an automated program cannot replace a person in the localization of the text. It is necessary to correctly transfer words and select a font, making sure that all the text is visible, adjust the layout to avoid blank spots in the documentation, pages, tables, figures, or the document as a whole.

  • You anticipate that the images in the original text may be misunderstood or negatively perceived in the country for which you need the translation.

In some cases, you may need to change the images in the translation because they may be misleading for the people in another region. This is also the responsibility of the designer, and the process is called graphics localization. The designer redraws the pictures and, after approval, lays out the translation and visual elements in the required format, taking into account the cultural peculiarities of the target audience.

How is the work of a translator and designer organized?

  • Discuss the task with the designer and determine the stage they should be included in the project. The best option is to contact the designer as soon as it becomes evident that the client wants to receive their translation in the same form as the original. The designer will explain the process according to the particular case and what materials to request from the client. Sometimes, getting information from the client takes time, and it is better if the designer receives all the materials before the translation is ready.

Request a source material file from your customer

  • For the translation layout and graphics localization, a designer needs the visual elements in the text in their original format. Most often, these are sources in the Adobe Indesign, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe Photoshop formats. In Indesign and Illustrator, client needs to package a file. It will not be one file but a whole folder with all images and fonts.

Can the client send the design files in PDF format?

  • By and large, PDF files are not meant to be edited. Some tools allow making minor adjustments to PDF files, but they are not suitable for full editing purposes. There are situations when the client does not have the source but only the PDF. It is still possible to work with this, but up to a certain extent. If this is not possible, the designer can create exactly the same design from scratch and use it for translation.

In what format does a designer give the finished work to the client?

  • PDF – Print locked files and light files (PDF, jpeg) for sending by mail.

About the Author

Oksana Kravtsova is a freelance graphic designer specializing in providing innovative, high-quality marketing solutions for the international business sector and publishers. She can be reached on [email protected].

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