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All You Need To Know About Multilingual Desktop Publishing

Have you ever thought about why the care labels on your clothes have text written all over them in different languages? Well, that is the magic of multilingual desktop publishing.

In today’s global marketing scenario, your brand must effectively build brand loyalty among customers of various regions and cultural backgrounds. You will be surprised that every little element associated with your brand – be it product labels, catalogues, brochures – plays an essential role in building your brand loyalty. This is where multilingual desktop publishing (DTP) comes in. In simple terms, multilingual DTP helps your customers access brand material in different languages while maintaining the look and feel of the original material.

Check out how the multinational food chain McDonald’s preserves essential elements like the golden arch while communicating with their customers in various regional languages.

McDonald's hindi thai russian japanese

Let’s dig deeper into what multilingual DTP means and all the work that goes into it.

What is multilingual desktop publishing?

Today, all content is a generous mix of text and design. Visuals – in the form of layouts, graphics, and images – play an essential role in content consumption. So, it goes without saying that when you’re getting a piece of content translated, you would want to maintain consistency in design.

While translating the text into another language may help you reach a specific section of your customers, paying special attention to design will help you build good brand recall.

Multilingual DTP requires a combination of translation and designing skills to create perfectly localised content. This is why there are DTP specialists who work on the source template and replicate it in other languages. 

What can you use multilingual DTP for?

The scope of multilingual DTP is far more than we can comprehend – there’s no limit to how much you can impress your customers or clients with properly designed content in their native languages.

Currently, brands have been using multilingual DTP for the following:

1. Brochures: In-store or off-store brochures are a great medium of offline marketing. Printing them in their potential customers’ native languages, helps brands make a great first impression.

2. Magazines: When you have readers of a variety of linguistic preferences, it’s always wise to create ‘inclusive’ content. For instance, our team member was pleased to see that Jazeera Airways’ in-flight magazine had information in English, along with the local language (Arabic).

Kuwait airlines english arabic multilingual dtp
Jazeera Airways’ in-flight magazine in English & Arabic

Also, look at how well they’ve formatted the right-to-left Arabic with left-to-right English. Only a multilingual DTP expert could’ve achieved that!

3. Technical manuals: Whether it’s instructions to assemble a product or a description of its working, many technologies, automobile, home furnishing, and appliance brands are utilising multilingual DTP. 

4. Product labels: Check out how this chocolate brand connects with the English-speaking residents and tourists in Turkey.

Turkey chocolate brand multilingual packaging
Pack of a chocolate brand in Turkey

5. Presentations: Working in a multinational organisation? More often than not, your audience comprises non-English speakers. Translating your presentation into multiple languages can help you create a great impression.

6. Menus: Restaurants and cafes in cities that receive heavy tourist traffic use this strategy to attract tourists while also staying relevant to the residents.

multilingual dtp softwares files formats

The process of multilingual desktop publishing

Learning about the process of multilingual DTP will help you understand and identify issues beforehand, along with finding their solutions. Let’s explore this process with an example. Say a home furnishing brand like IKEA wishes to translate their instruction manuals that help its customers assemble their products. 

1. Extracting the text

Your instruction manuals might have been originally created in software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Adobe Acrobat (PDF), QuarkXPress, or others. When you go to a DTP specialist with your requirements, the first thing they’ll do is extract all the text from the source file and prepare it for translation. A DTP specialist will have working experience of all publishing software and will extract text from your manuals – either automatically or manually.

2. Translation

A trained native speaker and translator translates the text and saves it in a file. Unless the translator is a design expert too, it is advised that he/she saves the translations in a file different from the source file. 

This helps in two ways. One, there would be fewer chances of design errors which may happen if the translator hasn’t worked with the specific tool (Adobe InDesign, Framemaker, etc.) Two, entering the translated text directly in the source file won’t help them use Translation Memory to access the translation of repeated terms.

3. Edit and proof

Another translator reviews the translation and checks for errors. A different set of eyes helps ensure that the translation has been done in the right context. It helps if the translator has some experience in translating manuals. He/She would then be familiar with specific terms used in manuals like ‘hinged.’ 

4. Importing translated text

A DTP specialist imports the translated text into the source file format. Given the fact that he/she has a design background, the specialist also takes a call as to if he/she wants to localise the design as per the target language. For instance, if your instruction manuals are getting translated for products sold in China, the colour red would be a great design decision. Red symbolises luck and positivity in many Asian cultures and generally invokes a sense of trust among the customers there.

5. Final check – design

The DTP specialist sees how the translated looks in a designed format. He/She makes changes concerning page margins, text alignment and boxes, page numbers, etc. to give the reader a wholly localised experience.

6. Translation and design QA

This quality analysis involves a translator checking for errors like wrongly translated or untranslated text, and wrong dates or formats. After the translator approves this version, a DTP specialist runs a final check for any design inconsistencies. 


With so many localisation services offering multilingual desktop publishing, it has become effortless for your brand to create a powerful brand image across different target markets.

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