The role of a foreign language typesetter

The role of a foreign language typesetter

One may wonder, when would a foreign language typesetter be needed? Let us take a common example of when I put my services to work. If a business has a promotional brochure, there may come a time when it would need to translate its material for the purpose of marketing to a broader, more diverse and international audience. The number of languages in which they would like to translate depends on their needs, and it could range from one or two languages, to as many as thirty or more. So, the business would approach a translation firm and provide the text to be translated. Once the text is translated into however many languages, the next step is to implement the translations into the brochure. This is where I come in.

Foreign language typesetting (or multilingual typesetting) refers to the practice of formatting translated content to fit the foreign layout of the original text, while simultaneously taking into account typographical variations between the original and foreign languages. To have a translated text that is precisely the same length as the original is rare.

An example of this is a bilingual (English-French) lid labeled:

For use by date see side of pack
Voir sur le côté de l’emballage pour la date limite de consommation

Typically, non-English languages take up 30% more space than English text. It is therefore worth planning to leave enough white space to account for the word growth that is common when the text is translated out of English into non-English languages. A conservative but safe assumption is to typically add 50% for length when designing a layout for a document that will be translated into multiple languages.

If not enough space is available, paragraphs, line breaks, and page breaks have to be adjusted accordingly – along with any graphics or charts that surround the text. Alternatively, the typesetter may have to reduce the font size or alter the amount of space between lines of text within the document.

Typesetting in a foreign language is to examine the macro typography of the original text in order to correctly input the document to the end language. When typesetting, the typographical customs of the respective language have to be considered so that the final document changes from the original as little as possible.

It is important to identify and adapt your text to fit the diverse reading style in your target country. Everything from font size, font style, line spacing, and reading direction (left to right or right to left) must not be overlooked.

This profession can be very tricky when different writing methods are utilized in a single text. For instance, a French business would like to have its booklet translated into Chinese. In many situations, the name of the business would still be written using the Latin alphabet. This would result in selecting a Chinese font that matches the Latin characters. I possess a wealth of fonts for dozens of languages, which allows me to ensure that the overall design of the foreign layout remains as consistent as possible with the original.

There are also many typesetters that struggle with languages which are read from right to left (ie Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, etc). If you need multilingual typesetting of a right-to-left language, the layout needs flipping. In right-to-left typesetting, bullets, flowcharts, and tables all need reversing, which can incur extra cost and time. I can do this for you. I follow a meticulous and methodical process in which I mirror all elements to better suit these respective languages. My ability to read and write Arabic provides me with a key advantage when working with right-to-left script.

A professional foreign language typesetter is able to produce a final document that flawlessly complements all types of languages; creating a geographically-tailored text. I can format and typeset localized text to match the original layout of publication and comply with foreign language typographic standards.

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