How do I get brochures translated?

brochure translation

Company brochures, whether they provide an overview of your business, are sales orientated or include technical information, are important assets for reaching new markets.

It is likely that you will have these in a PDF format, having worked with copywriters and designers to create the original versions in English. If your business is expanding into overseas markets, translating brochures into different languages will help build a resource of marketing and sales assets for distribution online, at conferences or trade shows and when meeting people face-to-face.

So, how to you go about brochure translation? Can you just hand over your PDF and ask a translator to return it translated and localised for your target market?

Initially, yes. Your PDF is fine for a translation service provider to use for a quote, based on the word count and number of pages.

However, brochure translation is more than translating the words on the page, it also involves artworking, and this may require localisation. For example your original brochure may have location specific or culturally inappropriate images that will not work effectively in a different country. Similarly, it may be beneficial to localise graphics so they are better aligned with your target market – such as changing ‘£’ signs to ‘€s’ if the brochure is for a European audience.

It is not possible to edit PDFs* and change the text and graphic elements to your translated and localised version. Therefore source files in Word, InDesign, Illustrator, Quark etc. will need to be sent to your chosen brochure translator.

Outlined below is how we translate brochures into different languages, and localise them for your target market.

How do brochure translations work?

With all the relevant source files available, the first step is to put together a team with the right expertise for your project. This may include linguists with sector-specific experience to ensure technical terminology is correct; transcreators who are experienced at creative translation and branding.

Technical translations not only require linguists with experience in your industry, who have excellent technical knowledge, but they must also be native speakers. This helps to ensure that your brochure content balances technical terminology with readability, and that the right technical terms are used. While a particular term may be perfectly correct, if it is not in common usage in your target market and sector, the brochure could appear dated, too formal or casual, or just a little strange in that context.

Once the linguists have translated all the source text – for large projects a team of linguists may be required as well as the use of translation tools such as Translation Memory for consistency and accuracy – the project is handed over to the Desktop Publishing team.

In many cases brochures can be re-created using existing graphics and images. However, translated text tends to be longer than the English source text, so the artworkers’ job is also to ensure it works in the existing layout and design – and make adjustments that retain the overall style and impact of the brochure.

There may be other aspects of the translated text that affect the design of the brochure. A prime example of this is languages with different character sets like Arabic, Chinese, and Russian. Characters occupy the available space in different ways, often taking up more room vertically as well as horizontally. Given the opportunity to redesign your source brochure, we would recommend that you leave as much white space as possible!

Your target language may also be read right-to-left instead of left-to-right, and this will affect the design too. Graphic elements cannot simply be reversed, especially if they contain text or numerals. These will need to be managed carefully by the artworker to ensure they work in the new format.

Attention to detail is paramount with brochure translations, so once the DTP team has finished the brochure is passed back to the linguists for final review and to check that there are no formatting mistakes. Once approved it is delivered to the client as a PDF again, but also with the translated files (Word, InDesign etc.)

How to choose a brochure translation provider

Because of the complex nature of brochure translations, we recommend you use a translation agency that has the range of expertise needed in-house. The following points should be given special consideration:

  • Technical terminology – use native speaking linguists with excellent technical knowledge, and sector-specific experience
  • Localisation – use expert translation teams that can advise on the all aspects of the localisation of your brochure, and whether text or graphic elements need changing
  • Language expansion – ask how the provider will manage language expansion (common when translating from English to other Latin alphabet languages), different character sets and right-to-left languages

Most of all, use a brochure translation provider that is prepared to work with your business collaboratively on the best way to translate and localise your marketing content. While some projects are relatively straightforward, many involve making crucial decisions about the text and design to ensure it works effectively in the target market. Therefore partner with a translation agency that can support you through this process and provide creative solutions to these common challenges.

Find out more about our brochure translation services here.

* If source files are not available translation agencies like Comtec may offer DTP and artworking services to re-create the original brochure’s design files in your target language. Contact our team to get a quote for this service.

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