The Art of Translation: Multilingual Desktop Publishing

We have all heard the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, and when it comes to the localization business this could not be more true. Selling products or services internationally requires more than just foreign language translation of content; it requires localizing the entire package from text formatting and graphics localization to image placement. These vitally important aesthetic alterations of translated content are accomplished through the process that we call desktop publishing (DTP). Interpro’s team of experienced DTP specialists work with the latest technology and software to ensure that the final result is not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye with the look and feel of the original source, but that it also communicates visually to the target-language audience.


The first DTP step in a typical localization project prepares the source layout files for processing through our translation tool, Trados. Trados is the Translation Memory tool used by our translators that ensures that content and coding which should not be altered in our clients’ files are protected during the translation process. Our DTP specialists export the layout in the application’s native interchange format, working typically with InDesign and FrameMaker files. This export does not include any text that is found outside the layout application, such as text within graphics or other embedded objects. The DTP specialist then identifies and manually extracts this text and ensures that it is included in the export. The prepared files are then analyzed and sent for translation. Once translation and proofreading have been completed, the process is reversed and the DTP specialist imports the interchange format back into the original layout application. Finally, the product is refined and polished to ensure that it is pristine and ready for publication.

DTP is a required component for many of Interpro’s translation projects, and having DTP specialists in-house is a huge advantage which helps to account for our efficiency, speed and the high quality of our DTP work. There are a number of different areas of expertise that our DTP specialists are skilled in, but one area that has been in high demand in the past few years due to the popularity of eLearning and computer-based training platforms is Flash localization.

Localizing Flash

Here is an example of the process our DTP specialists implemented in order to localize Flash content for an eLearning module on a new time entry system developed by one of our clients. As with most CBT and eLearning programs developed today, this particular module was developed using several different technologies including elements developed within Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, Adobe Captivate, and Adobe Flash. In order to deliver a completely localized version of this eLearning module, Interpro’s project plan included execution of the following items:

  • file preparation and engineering
  • glossary development
  • translation, editing and proofreading of all identified content within the PowerPoint, Word, Captivate, and Flash source files
  • professional studio voiceover recording of the English narration
  • desktop publishing
  • graphics localization
  • Flash localization and integration
  • post-DTP quality assurance
  • on-line quality assurance of the Captivate CBT components
  • on-line quality assurance Flash-based CBT components
  • project management

While translation of the content in PowerPoint and Word is straightforward, the Flash content has additional complexities that need to be executed in order to ensure the entire program comes together properly once the translated version is published.

Desktop Publishing for eLearning

This is the list of the steps from start to finish which were carried out by Interpro’s DTP team for the time entry module:

  1. Review how the course was assembled. This allowed the team responsible for the integration to determine how the developers designed the program, which elements required localization, and the most logical way to proceed with the project.
  2. Review the course files in order to identify localizable text. The program was analyzed with a view toward pinpointing exactly what needed to be localized and where it resided in the source file structure.
  3. Review course for localizable graphics and screen captures.The DTP team went through the entire program, identifying graphical images that contained translatable text as well as screen captures from a source application program.
  4. Extract localizable text
  5. All text from the Flash files and from the graphical images was extracted to a Microsoft Word DOCX file for translation.
  6. Insert localized text.
  7. Once the extracted text had been translated, edited and proofread, it was inserted into the appropriate source Flash files by the DTP team.
  8. Place localized graphical images/screen captures.
  9. Any graphical images which contained translatable text and were localized or target language screen captures received from the client were now inserted into the appropriate locations, replacing the English equivalents.
  10. Adjust localized content.
  11. The translated content needed to be verified and adjusted in order to make sure it fit within the program. Languages such as German, French, Spanish, etc. will expand, taking up more space than the source English content. The DTP team used a variety of methods to create space such as cropping images, reducing the spacing between lines, and reducing font size, for example.
  12. Sync the localized audio.
  13. The files containing the voiceover recording of the narration were inserted and needed to be synced up to match the program’s requirements. Since some languages expand, their narration time is longer than the English. The run time of the course sometimes need to be adjusted in order to accommodate longer recording times.
  14. Functionally validate the localized course.
  15. Once completed, the Flash integration team validated the course from the standpoint of functionality, assuring that the localized course functioned exactly as the English course did. Any adjustments were made prior to handing the course to the linguistic QA team who reviewed the course linguistically. Since the reviewers ran the complete course, the linguistic QA also served as an additional functional QA.
  16. Incorporate linguistic/miscellaneous changes.

Once the linguistic QA was completed, the integration team made all necessary linguistic and functional corrections and returned the content to the linguistic QA team to verify. As no additional changes were required at this point, the Flash localization component of the project was considered completed.

As you can see, Flash localization can be an arduous task even for the most experienced DTP specialists. Unlike a traditional documentation translation project, understanding the individual components that need to be translated and having the experience to sync them together seamlessly requires specific skill sets in order to deliver a perfectly localized Flash-based program.