;   Medical Translation Insight: Source-language analysis = Multilingual desktop publishing success - ForeignExchange Translations

Ensure success in multilingual DTP through a thorough analysis of source materialsWhen it comes to multilingual desktop publishing (DTP) in a medical environment, there are two main considerations: First, what tool does the client use to develop the materials and second, how thorough is the translation supplier's analysis of the source documentation.

Sample document and specifications
The quality of any analysis relies first and foremost on a representative sample document supplied by the client. If a sample of the final version is not available at the pre-production stage, the sample should resemble the final version as closely as possible. At the very least, the client should provide an editable sample of the project, not a "static" print or PDF sample.

In addition to the sample, the client should provide complete DTP specifications. The software should be clearly identified by name, version number, and platform. An inventory of fonts, including vendor and classification numbers should also be provided. Remember: font "classification" is still chaotic. Avoiding confusion can mean the difference between a successful project and a missed deadline.

The client should also provide an approximate word and graphic file count. Counts based on the source are more reliable than projected counts based on targets that may vary widely. Graphic files should not only be counted but described in terms of the whether they are illustrations, images, or screen shots; the software used to create them; and the format in which they will be provided. Finally, the client should be as clear as possible about deliverables, specifically regarding how the documentation will be distributed to users, as print and/or electronic media.

Once the client has provided representative samples of the work and precise production and delivery specifications, all of the materials should be evaluated to determine if they support the project described by the client. When the specifications and expectations are fixed to the extent possible, the DTP specialist should then perform a more thorough analysis in order to cost-out the DTP portion of the project and to develop a reasonable staffing and scheduling plan.

Layout considerations
The general layout of documentation has a large impact on both budget and deadlines. Text-heavy documents that utilize a single-column layout with a minimal number of readily available or standard fonts are simple to manage. Sidehead or multiple-column formats, tables and alpha- or numerically-sorted lists complicate the task. Graphics with localizable callouts require more attention; callouts embedded in graphic files may demand even more time.

An important consideration at this stage is the use of styles. Documentation that exploits paragraph and/or character style sheets fully and applies them consistently and correctly is far easier to DTP than a custom-built document in which style sheets have been ignored or over-ridden.

Beyond layout considerations, DTP specialists need to evaluate the tools chosen to effect the localization. Not all applications support all target languages. Alternative tools may need to be adopted for certain targets (e.g., bi-directional languages like Arabic and Hebrew). Alternative fonts may also need to be identified to support certain languages while maintaining the graphic signature of the documentation.

Communication is key
In the end, however, any analysis is useless unless the results are communicated to all those involved in the process. Client contacts at drug and device companies need to understand how the project departs from original specifications and expectations.

Both the client and the translation supplier need to be aware of potential production difficulties before deadlines or quality are jeopardized. Translators need to have the clear understanding of the specifications that affect their part of the process.

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