DTP Source Improvements

A few basic steps to instantly develop a standard localization-optimized DTP source document, cutting the localization DTP effort in half. Learn more.

When localizing print and online publications, one key aspect is the cost and efficiency of desktop publishing (DTP) work required, on both the source and target levels.


This article was written by Roman Civin and Jan Musil, and published in ISTC Communicator magazine Autumn 2010.

Let’s assume your authoring environment, yearly volumes, content and publication types do not justify going to a topic-based structured authoring process or other change of paradigm, and instead you need a fast and simple solution. In this respect, DITA is a double-edged sword — a solution which, while robust, can also take a considerable amount of time and money to implement.

In this article, we will look at a few basic steps to instantly develop a standard localization-optimized DTP source document, cutting the localization DTP effort in half. We will use a recent InDesign project as a sample, but the same principles would apply for any standard DTP authoring tool, such as FrameMaker, QuarkXPress, or even Word. The sample InDesign project is a 16-page marketing catalogue which we needed translated into 20 languages.

Specifically, we will demonstrate:

  • How to double productivity of localization DTP efforts by the use of simple optimization steps
  • How to save 38% on the publication localization DTP of just one 16-page document
  • Recommended changes in the way source documents are created
  • How to identify and save time on routine tasks.

The Source

There are many constraints during source creation. To name a few

  • Content is provided inconsistently by different groups or divisions
  • Text is not provided in time
  • Publication layout exists before the content — size limitation
  • Each DTP author works differently — no template.

Needless to say, problems at the source level will be encountered later, during the localization stage, when localization DTP effort is multiplied by the number of languages. Localization DTP means working on every .indd (InDesign Document) file where translated text and graphics replace the original text and graphics (export .inx (InDesign Interchange), translate, import .inx). Using our example, you will need to DTP for each language; this means 20 .indd localized files that replicate the layout of the original English .indd. A single issue will need to be fixed 20 times.


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