Online conferencing is wonderful when it works. This wasn’t quite the case at the start of ‘Desktop Publishing (DTP) for Translators’, but, despite the technical hiccups, we were all treated to a fantastic presentation by Chris Thompson, MCIL.
His engaging talk broadly covered how the translation process fits into multilingual DTP projects and where the pitfalls lie.
Now, I’m a complete novice when it comes to DTP and it’s not something I generally come across in my medical translation work; however, thanks to Chris’ talk, I now have a greater understanding of how the two work streams intertwine the production of multilingual printed and PDF materials.
His focus on page layout software highlighted the superiority of dedicated DTP software over word processors in localising print materials, emphasising its ability to better cope with industry requirements (something I wasn’t aware of before Chris’ talk).
Using an example DTP text for translation, Chris broke down what’s known in the trade as ‘copyfitting’: the careful insertion of text into a prepared design. For the translators in attendance, I suspect that neither the lack of project management foresight nor the potential adjustments required during and post translation of a DTP project, such as text box sizing and overset text, came as much of a surprise to learn about, but it was however interesting to learn how such oversights can have serious consequences for the legibility of printed materials.
Chris’ font discussion highlighted further issues in multilingual DTP projects, pointing out that not all fonts contain a full character repertoire, i.e., accented and circumflexed characters, something the trusty Arial user inside me was shocked by. However, amongst corporate image design constraints and serif vs. sans serif, Chris’ insight into the shortcomings of DTP software when working with non-Latin and complex scripts, such as Arabic, Farsi, and Japanese, was revelatory to a Eurocentric translator such as myself.
The talk concluded with an entertaining look at some poorly, if not shockingly, executed multilingual DTP projects, and, while I personally don’t intend to diversify into DTP, Chris certainly demonstrated how such skills could be hugely beneficial to translation professionals. One thing’s for sure: I’ll never look at a multilingual information board the same way ever again!