Remove inefficiency and errors while producing documents in many languages

by Stefano Bernardi 4 minutes to read

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

You might not even be aware of it, but the chances are that you are wasting lots of time and money with the production of your documents.

Inefficiency and errors are common when InDesign files are produced in many languages.

Because of my job at Redokun, I work with people and documents from all over the world, and I have noticed some basic mistakes that everybody makes when working on multilingual projects with InDesign.

Missing the bigger picture

Not understanding the job each person does is the main issue and it’s the single reason for most mistakes.

Designers and managers don’t understand how much the layout they choose impacts the production of the documents.

InDesign users underestimate the importance of the structure of their InDesign files.

Translators often don’t know InDesign.

Companies don’t use the right tools.

Without having a complete picture of the issue, it’s hard to make choices on how to produce your documents.

The impact of the layout

The layout of the document is fundamental because it defines the space in which the information will flow, it gives limits and possibilities to the InDesign user, and it might restrict the tools you can use.

Automation can not only decrease costs, but it can also improve the quality by reducing the chance of errors drastically.

With a bad layout choice, translators will have difficulties when using their own software (or they won’t be able to use it at all).

You also won’t be able to use any software to manage the production of your documents, and the InDesign user will probably have to copy and paste each translation into the right spot inside the document.

A multi-languages layout, for example, is often hard to tackle. That is not only because you will have to insert the translations by copy/pasting each of them but also because your document will be ready only when all the translations are pasted into the file (and controlled).

The document’s structure

Two of the main tasks when creating the translated versions of your documents are translating the text and adapting the layout to the space taken up by the translation.

When your InDesign document doesn’t have the correct structure, you’ll need to readapt the document any time changes are applied.

Your document should be “programmed” to “host” a shorter or longer textual content (Personally, I make sure text-boxes can host 30% more text) by using threaded text-frames correctly and images should be anchored to the text when necessary.

Also, use different language layers only when it is necessary. This common practice is helpful only when you go with offset printing (We talked about it here: Save money on printing your catalog).

Help translators do their job

Because most of the mistakes are linked to the way files are created, it’s the InDesign user’s concern to make sure documents are translation-friendly and will be OK when the text is replaced with the translation.

Also, you should use special care with images with text inside.

You don’t want your translators to have to go over each image, and you don’t want to replace each image with its translated version because that will dramatically increase the risk of mistakes (More about this topic in this post).

You should create and import your images without text, create the text labels in InDesign and place them over their image, and then group the image with the labels.

Legends are also a good way to deal with text inside images.

This way you make sure translators only have to deal with a single file and no one is responsible for remembering to replace an image with the translated one.

Your team is an orchestra

As in an orchestra, during the development of a multilingual project in InDesign, there is the need for a conductor. Someone who gives directions as to how the workflow should be structured.

It’s the InDesign user who should be the conductor in the development of a multilingual InDesign document. We developed Redokun to help you exactly doing that—organize the workflow and execute each step.

Stefano Bernardi
Stefano Bernardi

Stefano has worked on numerous mid to large–sized InDesign projects for Alstom, DeLonghi, Philips, and many others before starting Redokun in 2015.
As Redokun’s Co-Founder, Stefano spends most of his time helping customers to optimize their InDesign work-flow. He also holds in-house InDesign courses for companies in the Venice, Italy area.

19 Tips To Optimize Your InDesign File For Translation (Free eBook)

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