DTP: Providing Modernity, Artistry, and Multilingualism

March 17, 2014 |

After a talk with the office manager, the secretary mechanically and less than enthusiastically, reaches for the third drawer where the sticky notes reside. A grumble can be heard, as the memory of their adhesiveness returns, the ground below the message board being littered in old sticky notes. While the note is being filled out, technology experts representing the biggest brands are busy devising the newest virtual sticky notes for a computer’s desktop. The layout cannot be too intrusive, and the yellow background acts as a reminder of everyone’s good or bad experiences with the paper version. The significance of this mundane desktop feature is that humanity may have lost its last activity that involved handwriting…a phenomenon that would have distressed Trithemius,  the 15th century monk who said, “printed books will never be the equivalent of handwritten codices, especially since printed books are often deficient in spelling and appearance”. Admittedly, the curves and loops of cursive script are a beautiful art form, however, desktops can also succeed in providing an exquisite and functional appearance, whether laden with sticky notes or not!

Often, a website will engage in desktop publishing (DTP) by configuring their graphics and typography with preoccupation for the appearance on desktops (and now mobile phones). Long hours of formatting are involved, using a wide range of tools from word processors to many of the Adobe Publishing programs. The office’s graphic designer will need a rest after completing the project, well, until the day a localization process is underway. In this scenario, the designer has to go through the entire process again with the translated material. Luckily, companies like Alpha Omega Translations offer to provide the translated content already placed in the original layout! Languages that prove difficult in their length and unconventionality such as Hebrew whose word for “sticky notes” is “פתקיות דביקות”. These can be accommodated for by modifying the font, or, in the case of different alphabets, converting the text into an image for compatibility with all computers/ desktops.

Surprisingly, however, when converting from English to Hebrew or Hebrew to German, another language may feature in the process, namely the Latin language. Latin was one of the shorter alphabets that eased the task of arguably the first desktop publisher, Johannes Gutenburg, when he constructed block letters for the printing press. Latin was also used by Cicero, and admirers of the orator created text from his speeches in jumbled form to be used in DTP for a process called Greeking. All questions about Latin being called Greek aside, the unfamiliar language helps show how a graphic or text will look on the page without the content serving as a distraction.

Many DTP projects are meant to be printed out. One case is instruction manuals which include complicated layout and formatting patterns because of the integration of words as labels into a diagram. Brochures that use a lot of graphics or newspaper and magazine covers that garner attention with headlines, columns, and captions, all need to be printed out. When considering the printed version, attention must be given to the page’s margins which may have been decreased to fit longer text. In a process called bleeding, there are no margins, and while perfect on the screen, printers may have difficulty printing these types of documents.

While Trithemius represented a community that contended with modern day DTP merely with the first letters of their illuminated manuscripts, the possibilities are now infinite. If infinite could be multiplied, and the plethora of new fonts, layouts, and shapes were available in different world languages, businesses would stand to profit even more. DTP provides all the benefits of eye-catching graphic design without taking away from the quality of the translations made by professionals selected for their native language who recognize symbols that are appropriate for the target culture. It would be absurd if desktop sticky notes was a symbol with negative connotations in any language, except maybe Tibet, where there are so many monks, probably luddites like Trithemius.

For an overview of our translation expertise, visit our desktop publishing service page.



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Category: Business Translation

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