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Foreign language desktop publishing/typesetting requires a special touch and a certain level of knowledge about the intricacies of foreign languages in order to best present your foreign language materials. Some items to keep in mind are listed below.

Q. Will my document look exactly like the English original?
R. Usually. Depending on the language, the foreign text may expand or contract in length as much as 30%.  In which case, the line spacing (known as leading) and type size may require adjustment in order to maintain a page for page similarity. In other cases, text may require re-flow in order to accommodate the extra number of words and the page layout will not be exactly the same. This will be discussed upon quoting the project after reviewing your existing layout. 

Q. What if I don't have an electronic file for my original document?
R. If you do not have an existing electronic file for your document we will be happy to produce one for you in your software of choice. We will advise you about what options are available to you and best suited to your needs as well as the associated costs.

Q. Will I or my printer be able to output the document?
R. Yes, we deliver electronic files that can be output on any standard PC or Macintosh system. We can also make arrangements to have your document printed if you so desire.

Q. What about special fonts or characters, like Japanese? How will those be handled?
R. Font sets include a limited number of foreign language characters. The majority of the European languages are able to be reproduced in the same font as your original document. However some languages require special characters that your specific font set may not support. Examples include Polish, Twi (an African language), Vietnamese, etc. In this case a similar font supporting the language in question will be used to maintain the appearance of your original. In the case of some Asian languages, such as Arabic or Asian languages, special input systems are required in order to input and output text. In that case, the text will be generated as graphics and inserted into the layout so that the document can be output without the need for any special fonts or operating systems. Still other languages that require non-Latin characters, such as Lao, Russian, Greek, etc., may be handled on an either special font and/or graphic basis dependent upon the client's specific needs and software requirements.

Q. Will my layout be MAC or PC based?
R. The foreign language version of your layout will generally be created on the same platform as your English original. In the event of layout design from "scratch", you may indicate your platform of choice. However, some parts of your document may need to be created on a Macintosh platform in order to accommodate special formatting issues, i.e. creation of specific language text graphics. These graphics can be used cross-platform.

Q.  Is there anything special I should keep in mind when considering the text layouts that will be produced in foreign language versions?
R.  First with regard to text, be aware that English text usually expands when it is translated into many foreign languages. The amount varies by language. It's best to leave as much white space as possible on the page to accommodate for this expansion. This is also especially important if you have minimum font size/leading requirements for your document which cannot be exceeded due to legal or other regulations.

Second, try to avoid hyphenated text whenever possible. Foreign  languages follow different hyphenation rules and most page design software is not equipped to handle foreign languages, hence not using hyphenation styles prevents problems in layout later down the road. Also be aware that justified text in English may not be able to be reproduced in the target language for the same reason as "gaps" could arise that would lend to a "messy" appearance.

Q. Is there anything special I should keep in mind when considering the graphics used in the layouts that will be produced in foreign language versions?
R. Graphics require as much  special attention as text if not more. When  you are designing your graphics make sure that text is not "outlined" as this will make it uneditable when the translated text needs to be input. If it is outlined, we will need to "redraw" the graphic to incorporate the foreign text if the graphic permits. This adds unnecessarily to your cost if you can avoid it at the start of the design process.

The same applies to the compression of layers in illustration programs. Compressing all layers renders text non-accessible for translation input and may render the graphic unusable for foreign text versions, requiring your art department to create a new version of the graphic so that foreign text can added. Again, an unnecessary cost if it can be avoided in the planning stages.

Q. Are there any special considerations with regard to page/graphic design software and foreign languages?
R. All graphics and page design software handle the input of foreign languages differently. Some allow the input of foreign languages directly, while others do not. Some require that you use a special plug-ins while yet others require that you use language specific versions of the software to handle the language in question. And some do not allow anything but English to be used.

Make sure that your particular graphic/page design software allows for your  target foreign language text otherwise special characters/diacritical marks may not render correctly upon output. But don't fret if you already have a layout designed and your software program has language limitations. These problems are not insurmountable, and we are able to resolve these issues in almost all cases so that foreign text can be added to your graphics and your page design layout. After all, that is what we're all about!

Should you have any other questions about foreign language desktop publishing, please feel free to contact us. We may be reached via e-mail at