InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop for Translation?
Whatever you have translated and whatever language you have it translated into, you are going to be putting the content somewhere.
For translated marketing materials such as international brochures, prospectuses, etc., the Adobe suite is usually the first port of call when looking at your design. However, there are limitations to some packages which make it much more difficult to translate the text efficiently and cost effectively. Check out our Implementation page here >>
Here’s our run down on the 3 top packages.
Illustrator lets you create precise, editable vector graphics that stay sharp when scaled to any size. Use flexible shape and drawing tools to create logos, icons, and other illustrations that look equally good on a business card, flyer, or billboard. Edit and customize text in many ways to create striking typography.
Use Illustrator to create artwork that will be used across different mediums, and for varied types of artwork including custom typography, infographics, and one-page design layouts like a form or a flyer.
This is a great package, but does cause issues when it’s not being used primarily for its main function – illustrating! If you have a load of text which requires translation (more than say, a strapline), commonly used translation tools (such as Trados) usually can’t pick it up. This means that there’s going to be some element of manual work going on, and this increases time, costs and human error.
Really, Illustrator should be used for illustrating, leaving InDesign for laying out text…
InDesign is the best choice to design and publish multipage documents containing text, vector artwork, and images. Use precise grids and guides to position page elements and create polished layouts. Take advantage of professional typesetting features to format text consistently across pages, chapters, and publications. You can also publish your document online and share it with a single click.
Use InDesign to create a variety of digital and printed material such as stationery, resumes, pamphlets, annual reports, catalogs, interactive digital publications, EPUBs, books, magazines, and more.
Here here! InDesign files (idml, indd, etc) can be pulled into most translation software (the management of content for human translators, not ‘machine translation’ FYI) meaning that the whole process is super slick (presuming that the text has been left as text and not converted to curves / outline).
No more copy and pasting! With InDesign files, the content is translated within the file, meaning that a tidy up (and a native speaker review) is needed on the file, but there’ll be no human sitting copy and pasting content from a Word doc to InDesign and making mistakes…
Photoshop is your go-to application for working with pixel-based images designed for print, web, and mobile apps. Powerful editing tools let you correct exposure and color balance, crop and straighten images, alter colors in your photograph, remove blemishes from a portrait, or combine multiple images into a new scene.
Use Photoshop to create image-heavy flyers, posters, web and app designs, videos, and animations, or to edit 3D content.
This is an image editor – it shouldn’t be used for laying out full leaflets, brochures etc. It’s not built for that and it makes changing any text almost impossible.
Adobe sum it up perfectly by explaining how the 3 packages work together:
“Our apps are designed to work together. Take a look at an efficient workflow that uses all three to produce a well-designed catalog.
Create a striking logo in Illustrator using simple vector shapes and some refined type. In Photoshop, place your finished logo against a new background. Then change colors and make easy adjustments to create a realistic composite. Add this composite image to a multicolumn layout in InDesign, and finish off with stylish text at different sizes. Now you can print, email, and share your catalog online.”
With all of these packages, one essential thing to note is that we can’t really do much at all with text that is no longer in a ‘font’, i.e., one that has been converted to ‘curves’, ‘lines’ or ‘outline’ – as then it isn’t even ‘text’ anymore – just shapes!
Working with non-Latin character sets
One other thing that we can’t go without mentioning, is designing with languages that don’t use Latin / Roman alphabets.
European languages use either the Latin / Roman alphabet (English, German, Italian, etc.) or Greek, Cyrillic alphabet (Russian and Bulgarian etc). The Latin alphabet is especially widespread and is used for many languages around the world, not just European languages.
Some languages only represent the consonants of a language. This type of writing system is called an abjad, and 2 well-known examples are Hebrew and Arabic. These languages are notorious for causing problems for designers!
The Middle East or North African edition of the software should be used and solving this isn’t as easy as simply changing the font. Many designers have come a cropper with this – in fact we’ve seen Arabic text where the words were in the right order, but the letters in each word were back to front! If you don’t speak Arabic, you simply wouldn’t know there was a problem. You have to utilise the Adobe World-Ready feature at an expert level to get this right.
This covers aspects such as:
text direction (including at a character level when you have a mix of languages in the same paragraph)
story direction (for when you’re working in columns)
automatic Kashida insertion (we’re getting really technical here – only an Arabic speaker should play around with these!)
ligatures (typographic replacement characters for certain letter pairs)
diacritical marks (and diacritical colouring)
digit types (Arabic, Hindi, and Farsi options)
special character insertion
binding direction (for books, brochures etc)
page numbering and more
If your work isn’t being handled by someone who is an expert at these elements above, it’s best to leave it with the professionals (us!) to handle this and the final review by a native speaker – the essential part to ensuring there are no embarrassing mistakes to trip you up.
The best thing to do is to talk to us about your translation requirements before you start designing – then our techies can talk to your techies and the whole process is much easier, quicker and cheaper.
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