While browsing the offers from various translating agencies, printing houses, but also graphic designers, we can often find an unknown word “DTP”. People interested in graphics have probably heard of it but the vast majority has no idea what the whole process looks like. In today’s post we’ll explain what DTP really is, and where it is used.

DTP, known as desktop publishing

DTP is one of the leading procedures when it comes to the text processing, used by e.g. translating agencies, publishing houses, graphic studios. DTP is nothing else but preparing graphic materials for further duplication by external printing. To be specific, it is nothing other than preparing long files for printing.

What is DTP used for?

DTP services are used for any publications that require graphic processing, such as books, e-books, brochures, magazines, websites, newsletters, flyers, informational prints or PDF files. Professional graphics that use DTP mainly use software like Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Publisher or Scribus.

DTP and translations

Translation means a lot of different activities – not only simply translating. Top translation agencies in addition offer their clients a way to keep the original layout of their documents and prepping them for printing. PDF files that are being sent to the agency require conversion into a version of
a text that allows edits so they can be translated. That brings a risk of losing the primary look of the document, which after conversion does not look very appealing. That is why sometimes the help of
a graphic designer is needed. There is also another reason for using DTP services. As we all probably know, languages vary. Some of them have a specific structure, that means some words are longer, some shorter, which influences the amount of text and its layout.

Writing in Arabic or Japanese is much more different than writing in Polish – unlike us, its users write from right to left. What is more, Japanese script goes from top to the bottom, which results in vertical columns. The use of DTP in translating those languages needs adjusting the layout of a page in a way that is friendly and clear for the receiver.

German is yet another great example. Because of its complexity and obvious differences in length of words, the whole process of DTP needs more attention. Also, German letters Ä, Ö, Ü and ẞ often makes it difficult in designing a text’s layout.

Chinese as a real challenge for DTP graphics. The main problem is yet another alphabet system and the need to install a specific program that will use Chinese script.

Translations in Ukrainian need more focus because of the fact that one word in this language has many meanings – sometimes even dozens! That means that the final translation is much longer than the original text and requires specific corrections in the layout.

What do we need to focus on?

Clearly, the most common difficulty when we look at texts in various languages is the difference in the amount of text. As such, the person responsible for the whole DTP process has to take into account the fact that the translation will be much longer or shorter than the original piece. The variety of languages is something we can’t get rid of. A different alphabet, font, or the word order – all of these factors matter in the layout of the document.

DTP is an extraordinary useful tool, especially in the translation industry. There are more programs that are used in the processing of texts year after year. DTP is today’s standard and a factor of quality, both of a translation agency or others that prepare professional texts.

(translation M.K.)

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