Typesetting Translations In Right To Left Languages

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We are often asked about multilingual typesetting and dtp. Many translations are either for print, such as brochures and other marketing materials. We also typeset packaging, inserts and product user guides. Much typesetting and DTP is relatively straightforward these days. However, there are particular issues when typesetting translations in right to left languages.

Typesetting translations in right to left languages

Right to left languages such as Arabic, Urdu and Farsi can give problems in most major design programmes. This includes both Adobe Illustrator and InDesign. The issue is that they corrupt the script, there are possible workarounds, but they are not for the feint hearted. The solution is to use a Middle Eastern version of the product. For example there is a Middle Eastern version of Illustrator. Another company manufacture this, under licence from Adobe. We can prepare text or finished artwork, in an outlined EPS format. This allows you to import the text into the standard version. Once outlined, you can’t corrupt the text.

Some languages such as Simplified Chinese are more straightforward. However, Chinese needs an expensive set of fonts. These are probably not worth buying for small volumes of work. The solution is to use our DTP and typesetting service.

Proofreading and artwork checks

We recommend thorough checking with all multilingual artwork and print proofs. However, right to left languages require special attention. The issue of corruption is there. Even if correctly typeset, there is the risk that an artworker doesn’t realise the problem of corruption, and adds or amends the text using the standard version of the design programme. We have even had instances of clients using corrupted Arabic as “holding text”. This is risky, as someone might not realise, and authorise it for print. Errors or omissions are possible when preparing artwork, and proofing is the only way to eliminate this risk.