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Designing for a Non-English Audience

Multilingual Layout and Typesetting

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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, the layout and the images are already prepared and I only need to flow in the 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 the right software and platform, or having the help of a very experienced typesetter in that language. Through solving the problems encountered in the 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 the graphic designer keeps in mind that the 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 the DTP persons who create the original layout, to be aware and considerate of a few simple guidelines and rules when designing documents intended for translation.

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