The Print Translation Problem for Translation Agencies

When you’ve had a brochure or a document carefully copy written, formatted and printed you want it to be a success. If it does well for you and you see a good return on investment, you might consider using the same piece of marketing in your other branches, whether this is abroad in other English speaking countries or you have to approach a translation agency in order to have it translated into a new language.

Theoretically, this will massively increase your markets, as long as the translation is done well and the documentation makes sense in its new cultural environment. As with any translation though, problems can arise. It’s often more problematic than other types of translation as well, because with printed translation, format and aesthetics are as important as the text itself. It will require careful consideration from the translation agency, and it may need to be sent back to your designer in order to be reformatted with the new text.

Working In Situ

While most good translation agencies will be happy to receive InDesign or Photoshop files with the formatting complete and then drop the translated text straight into the document for you, it won’t always be this simple. Often languages will use different characters and this can mean that the font used will not be able to cope with the translation. If it’s not checked by the translation agency this can be easily missed, and many fonts will simple substitute the characters for one which they have, or just skip them all together. This can be incredibly detrimental to the copy of the text itself.

Text Expansion

Usually when you’re producing a brochure you would write the text before doing anything else, however with translated pieces this isn’t always possible because this is usually undertaken from a completed and successful document. If there is the a probability of translation later down the line, you should ask your designer to provide more white space than they usually would in the design. This will allow for the text expansion which is a natural and common part of the translation process. While the translation agency will usually be able to rephrase certain sentences to make sure everything fits in, it isn’t always possible, and sometimes every word is vital. You might need to reformat the whole brochure if you’ve not allowed enough space for this, or you may simply be able to remove a whole passage to accommodate for the changes in word count.


It’s important that you always give your agency plenty of information when you send them a document to be translated. If you don’t, some of the context which might be obvious in situ alongside pictures and diagrams might be lost.

When it comes to the images themselves, remember that we logically read images from left to right. This is because we also read text from left to right. In other languages such as Arabic, the words are read from right to left and therefore so are images. If you don’t change these over it might lead to considerable confusion.

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