Typesetting Guidance

Typesetting from Source Documents

The primary aim of a typesetting project is (usually) to replace / overtype the English content with the translated content. However as we all know, there are issues to consider when doing this:

  • The target document must 'mirror' the source (usually English) document as much as possible. We are not carrying out 'creative design' here - we are implementing a language into a design already completed by our client.
  • Target language length - when a target language length is longer (or even when it is shorter!) than the source language, you may have issues with fitting the content into the space allowed. Use your own judgement, and try to fit the target content in. However, if this is proving difficult, please consult with your PM before changing font sizes or the design / layout dramatically. 
  • Other language characters / fonts / scripts: please ensure you are comfortable with the target language that you are working in. This doesn't mean that you have to understand the language (as we will always have it reviewed by a native speaker), but you must be technically capable of implementing the language required. This is especially important with Urdu, Arabic etc., as these scripts / fonts / character sets can be troublesome on certain programs.


'Tidy Up' Projects

You may be asked to 'tidy up' a typeset file, rather than typesetting from scratch. This usually occurs when we have used our software (Trados) and it has automatically put the translation into the design file. The issue with this is that text boxes etc. are not made bigger, so this work usually involves editing the size of text boxes to ensure all the text can be seen. Again, there may then be issues with languages that are longer than the source language (see above).


Multiple languages on one file.

You may receive a file which has had space left for more than one language - this is common on product packaging. In these cases, we would always aim to give equal importance to each language and may put each language in a different colour to show differentiation, so that the reader can easily spot their language (see below).


'Reversing' files for right to left usage.

When localising a file from a 'left to right' language (such as English) to a 'right to left' language (such as Arabic), the following needs to be considered:

  • All text is changed.
  • Images are usually placed on the opposite side, to match / mirror the design.
  • The whole booklet / leaflet may need to be reversed (spine changes form being on the left, to the right).



  • Remember that the Client tends to see the artwork as a whole, but the end user isn’t looking at all of the text – only the information in their language. So it needs to be made very clear how each language can be identified.
  • Your PM may offer guidance (or indeed strict instructions!) from the client about how they  would like the different languages to be formatted, e.g. where text will be split down by language, etc. You may consider splitting up the different sections of text wherever possible so that all of the translations per side / page / panel for each language are together. This prevents the end user hunting for their language.
  • Consistency! Always ensure that the languages appear in the same order (and same colour) throughout the file.
  • Consider space saving / aesthetic / ergonomic solutions - which may involve reducing the length of the translation only if appropriate  such as:

Option 1, which results in a 'busier' and less clear design, has the full translation in 2 languages.

However, option 2 still retains the same meaning, but is much more compact and 'slick', and reflects the client brand.

Your PM will advise if these types of space saving / design features are applicable / permitted on the project.

OPTION 1  English: 30 days supply French: Cure de 30 jours Dutch: 30 dagen voorraad

English: 30 days supply
French: Cure de 30 jours
Dutch: 30 dagen voorraad

OPTION 2:  30 days (FR) / days (NL).

30 days (FR) / days (NL).


Reviewing Typeset Files

Please check the following:

  • Has all the text been pasted correctly? Pay specific attention to: beginnings of words, end of words, accents, punctuation, spacing, delimiters and units on numbers.
  • Have all formatting rules been followed? E.g. allergens in bold. Has this been checked after every instance in which changes have been made?
  • Do all numbers (weights, etc.) mirror the source PDFs and the source content spreadsheet / file?
  • Has all text which may be longer than the English been laid out correctly, e.g. line breaks, hyphenations, etc.?
  • Is it culturally appropriate for the target market of use?
  • Are all fonts correct / mirror the original / the client's choice?
  • Have all typos / incorrect grammar or translations been noted / amended (not preferential / style changes but actual errors)?
  • Are any capitalisations correct for the target market? If the client has expressed a different preference, have we informed the client?
  • Have you noted / questioned / amended anything that does not mirror the source file – artistically, culturally, linguistically?
  • Has everything on the file been localised correctly? E.g. the direction of an Arabic target file will change (whole booklet / imagery, etc).
  • Have script languages been formatted correctly: order of numbers e.g. in addresses (UK postcodes get mixed up sometimes)?
  • Does the target file mirror the source file as much as possible?
  • Have any text boxes been made larger to accommodate longer text, or style choices been made to accommodate this?
  • For 'right to left' languages, has all text and imagery been converted?
  • For 'right to left' languages, has the whole file been converted to read from right (back) to left (front)?
  • Are all images and connected 'links' implemented correctly?
  • If requested by the client, have all fonts been converted to 'outline' / 'curves'?
  • Do you feel that the target artwork expresses the same design 'feel' as the source?


Always contact your Project Manager if you have any queries - no questions are silly! It's always better to check, than to assume. :-)

Please also visit the Translator's Guidance page for notes on language, style, formatting, etc.

 Ask your PM if you have any queries about the above instructions.