Having worked as a digital publishing specialist at a large corporation at my previous job, I did not think being in charge of foreign language typesetting would be too difficult. After all, layout and images are already prepared and I only need to flow in text - how hard could that be? I was sure that a simple Copy and Paste, or text importation, would do everything. This was my point of view when I initially began managing DTP projects in different languages.
Was I ever wrong! Through experience, I've discovered that foreign language typesetting can be very challenging - even when using right software and platform, or having help of a very experienced foreign typesetter. Through solving problems encountered in process, I also developed a new appreciation for simple, "internationalized" designs that are much easier to "localize" than others. Many problems can be avoided if graphic designer keeps in mind that document may be later translated into other languages. Sometimes, an attractive and very professional design in English can be a nightmare for other languages.
Therefore, it is important for designers, or DTP persons who create original layout, to be aware and considerate of a few simple guidelines and rules when designing documents intended for translation.
•Keep design as light as possible. High quality photos and images add a great deal of visual interest to a design. But a heavy load of images in one document can present challenges in foreign language typesetting process. Images that are hundreds of MB in size take time to transfer. Keep in mind that Internet bandwidth could be significantly lower in some countries, and you don't want your foreign language typesetter to spend hours to download only one picture.
•Leave plenty of white space. Non-English languages can, on average, take up 30% more space than English. If enough space has not been allotted, foreign typesetter will be forced to reduce font size, or change character and line spacing. Also, new pages may even need to be added. As text will be longer and flow differently, it's possible that some images will also have to be repositioned and entire document will look a little bit different.
•Use style sheets. Not only will this make your work easier and more consistent, it will also help foreign typesetter.
•Try to use fonts that support foreign characters. Some of fancy font families do not have even most common French or Spanish accents, let alone East European languages, or others.
•Finalize your design before sending files for translation and typesetting. For languages like Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and many others, foreign typesetter will most likely use a localized version of your software. You'll not be able to open returned files to insert changes.