Multililingual projects are by their very nature complex. With an English-only project there is just one document to be created, revised, printed. With a multilingual project there are as many documents as there are languages in the project. That may be just one or two languages; it could be 30 plus languages. The more languages involved, the more important it is that the project is organised and managed carefully. Over the years we have developed and refined a system for organising multilingual projects. The following is an outline of the key steps in that system.
Step 1: Creation of the master artwork
This is usually in English. A designer will make up the document in Adobe InDesign according to the client’s requirements, incorporating copy and pictures supplied by the client. The copy and layout may be revised until the client is happy with both. It is always good if there is space in the design to allow for text expansion in the language versions (translations in most languages take up more space on a page than English).
Step 2: Export of the master English Word file
Once the master English design has been approved, we export the text from the InDesign document through our LanguageFlow software and write it to a Word file. Typically the Word file is formatted as a table. Each row of the table contains a paragraph of the document. In the first cell of each row is a unique reference code for the paragraph; in the second cell is the English text of the paragraph; at this stage, the third cell is blank waiting for the translation.
Step 3: Translation of the Word file
Translators translate the Word file. Each translator gets a copy of the Word file and translates it, inserting their translation into the third column of the table. The result is a set of Word files (as many as there are languages in the project), each containing the English text and a translation of that English text.
Step 4: Import of the translated Word files
The master English InDesign document is duplicated as many times as there are languages. The translated Word files are imported through the LanguageFlow software and the translated text is flowed into the (duplicated) InDesign documents. When it is flowed into InDesign the translated text takes on the style in the InDesign document. The result is a set of InDesign documents, each in a different language, all identically styled.
Step 5: Proofing the language documents
The language documents go through as many rounds of revisions as are needed until they are approved. Word files and PDFs of each language version are made available to the client on our WorkFlow site. Typically the country managers download their language files and make any text revisions they require in the Word files and layout revisions in the PDFs. These are returned to us and the requested revisions implemented. In the case of text revsions, the Word files are re-imported through the LanguageFlow software and any revised paragraphs are flowed back into the InDesign documents (this is RevFlow, a system for implementing revisions that keeps the text in the Word files and the text in the InDesign documents in synch).
Step 6: Approval and print
Once the language files are approved, either High-res PDFs or the InDesign documents themselves are sent to the printer, whichever the client requires. At the end of the project the client also has the complete set of Word files containing the approved language text for the project. Future, subsequent updates to the documents can be easily made by revising the Word files and initiating a round of revisions as described in the previous step.