Understanding DTP and What are the Benefits?


DTP, also known as Desktop Publishing, is the least talked about in our industry, yet it’s an indispensable marketing tool in the business.

Why print materials when we can have digital copies, right?

But whether printed or digital version, DTP will never be obsolete, especially when you’re trying to reach out to your customers in China.

Designs, texts, and layout matter in publications regardless of the industry.

READ MORE >>> What is the Role of Localization in Translation Services

What is DTP and tools to use?

DTP or desktop publishing is producing printed materials via desktop computer using premium software and tools. These materials can be used for reports, advertisements, magazines, brochures, and among others.

English designs and layout follow certain DTP best practices. It’s the same thing when working on the Chinese version.

Fonts, spaces, strokes, and paginations are necessary because through the translation process – when texts are also shortened or lengthened – the design and layout are affected.

Localization, on the other hand, adds a refined touch where specialists, designers, and professionals consider the color, format, and designs.

Take note that the MS Word is NOT a DTP tool or recommended as a typesetting tool.

Here’s why:

  1. It’s not stable, and it often crashes when working on large documents with over hundreds of pages.
  2. Images and texts don’t match well. It’s frustrating when you pinpointing image position on a page. She said, “Like a naughty ghost after you arrange the formation on the rest of the pages, that image or text box might just disappear or move to another page, which is hair pulling and time-consuming to make an adjustment.”

That’s why the AZ-Loc DTP team chooses premium applications such as InDesign, FrameMaker, PageMaker, QuarkXPress, Photoshop, and among others.

It’s easy to point out the images and text boxes as you wish, and they will not disappear or move.

DTP applications support templates. It would be easier for the specialists to create and maintain those large files or documents such as catalogs, brochures, and magazines.

What are the benefits of DTP in your business?

  1. You can streamline your work

DTP is part of a cycle that pushes you to plan ahead, saving you a lot of money and lead time throughout the process. And because our specialists use premium applications, they already have templates. They shortened the lead time when it comes to designing and layout.

  1. You have consistency, low maintenance fee, and overall efficiency

Branding is important in building the company’s identity. And with DTP, the similar products have consistency when it comes to the design aspect.

For the new versions, the DTP specialists can easily export a workable and editable file for translation in a split second. Sophie shares how it works.

“DTP specialists can prepare a translation-ready file that only contains the texts. A 300-page catalog with over 500 MB size InDesign document can generate a translation file in dot-idml format, which is less than 5 MB. It is easy to transfer, import and process using CAT tools.”

She explained, “DTP specialists can easily import that document (once the translation is finished), and this means, all translations can be copied and pasted where they should be positioned, saving translators more time and of course, you can save costs from the manual work.”

DTP specialists will only need to adjust the layout and make sure that all texts follow the DTP rules.

Thanks to the CAT tool, the translator can re-use the translation memory to generate more accurate and consistent translation faster and at a lower price. Efficiency is a loop in the cycle and saving you lead time and costs. And if there are images that needed to be replaced, it can be updated by extracting the new one from the centralized folder, and refresh the document.

DTP is more than just fixing the layout and design.

5 Best Practices on Chinese DTP (Desktop Publishing)

Small things matter when it comes to visuals.

Localizing designs in Chinese comes with a set of considerations on pagination, layout, strokes, fonts and among others.

For example, in DTP, there are best practices that graphic designers, translators, and proofreaders should know.

READ MORE >>> Graphic Design and Visual Content in Chinese

DTP can be in a digital or printed format that should be appealing and adds aesthetic value to the content for publication.

Here are some of the DTP projects that AZ-Loc team handles daily:

  • Corporate brochures and pamphlets
  • Product catalogs and datasheets
  • Technical guides and user manuals
  • Packaging design
  • One-page Executive Summary
  • MS PowerPoint presentation deck
  • Business cards

And here are the 5 Best Practices regarding DTP:

  1. Use professional and premium DTP applications

Designs and graphics in English come with a variety of font face and templates. But in business presentations created in MS PowerPoint, it’s recommended to use the system fonts. These are the fonts that are safe to use as they are available on all computers.

On the other hand, non-system fonts are the fancy, custom ones that are also used in advertorials and designs to add aesthetic value and appeal.

When localizing in Chinese, we recommend using the system fonts like when working on presentations to make sure the Chinese characters are displayed correctly.

But when working on brochures, technical guides, and these complex projects, professional DTP tools such as Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, FrameMaker, and PageMaker are indispensable.

  1. Choice of font face display for a variety of projects

I asked Sophie Ao, regarding the fonts in Chinese and she shared her insights.

“There are many pretty Chinese fonts available on the DTP tools we use, but for the older versions, they don’t support the CCJK language well.”

She added, “There are also safe fonts that we can use for Chinese brochures, but they don’t look enticing. If we use Arial Unicode MS, for example, it will make the some of the Chinese characters bigger than others, presenting a horrible layout.”

And she pointed out, “That’s where distrust and disrespect set in. The readers will think it, “It seems this company is not that professional, their document looks terrible.”

English fonts are fancy. Chinese fonts also have fancy ones like calligraphy and handwriting style that perfectly matches our projects for elegant catalogs and brochures.

  1. Avoid the “orphans” or “widow” lines

And by this, we’re not talking about children and the poor widows; these technical terms are used in typesetting.

They are the lines at the beginning (widow) and end of paragraphs (orphan) and usually dangling on white spaces, separated from the rest of the paragraph or texts.

Chinese audiences don’t like these, and so they should be avoided in each document. As the two best practices mentioned above are contributing factors to avoid the orphans, the designer can adjust the kerning or size, the spaces between the characters.

  1. Check the manuals index differences between Simplified and Traditional

Manual guides in English have an index at the end of the document that is arranged in alphabetical order.

However, when working on DTP in Chinese, Simplified Chinese characters are arranged by Pinyin or the Romanized spelling of the characters. On the other hand, the manuals in Traditional Chinese are based on the number of strokes.

  1. Watch out for alignment for consistency

Uneven alignment of lines in a document isn’t appealing to the Chinese readers. It’s recommended that paragraphs should have an alignment (justified) to remain consistent.

Sophie added more interesting insights when it comes to adjustments especially when English words are translated into Chinese.

“Usually when 1,000 English words are translated into Chinese, it will render into 1,700 Chinese characters. But because these characters are compact, the Chinese translation are shorter in length than the English version.

She added, “The rule for DTP on text space is that when Chinese and English versions are combined, we should reserve a space at the start and the end of that English word.”

And if the last line of the paragraph has one character (an orphan) it’s best to adjust the kerning or spaces between the characters. The language is a double-byte, which have right-aligned and left-aligned.

DTP is more than just fixing the layout and design.

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