Right justifying text in Chinese
Thread poster: Kate Hudson

Kate Hudson  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:56
Dutch to English
+ ...
Feb 5, 2007

I need some advice from Chinese native speakers in relation to a project I am running. I've had the text of a brochure on safety translated into Chinese and we are now at the DTP stage. My Chinese translator has informed me that "One crucial format problem: Unlike English, Chinese is generally leveled at both ends of a line"
Does he mean that in its printed form Chinese is usually right justified? Some of the sentences are only 1 1/2 lines long. I can understand this being done when there are longer sections of text. I look forward to any helpful advice you can give (in English Please!)

Kate


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 16:56
English to Chinese
+ ...
Leveled at both ends of a line? Feb 5, 2007

Kate Hudson wrote:

I need some advice from Chinese native speakers in relation to a project I am running. I've had the text of a brochure on safety translated into Chinese and we are now at the DTP stage. My Chinese translator has informed me that "One crucial format problem: Unlike English, Chinese is generally leveled at both ends of a line"
Does he mean that in its printed form Chinese is usually right justified? Some of the sentences are only 1 1/2 lines long. I can understand this being done when there are longer sections of text. I look forward to any helpful advice you can give (in English Please!)

Kate


Honestly, I don't quite understand that word "leveled" in this context. However, justified could be meant.

When justifying lines, we usually do not justify the last line. The other lines are justified both left and right, but the last line is only left justified.

I hope this could help.


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xxxchance
French to Chinese
+ ...
Hi Kate, Feb 5, 2007

I think he means that in its printed form Chinese is usually right justified.And your understanding is right : it should be done when there are longer sections of text.

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lbone  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 16:56
English to Chinese
+ ...
Chinese is left-aligned Feb 5, 2007

I think you should better communicate with your Chinese translator directly to make it clear, and a translator should be capable of making it clear in his/her service language in a way a foreigner can understand.

Chinese is left-aligned, not right aligned. The default alignment in MS Word, however, is aligning at both side (the term is "justified"), that is, when you have a line longer than half a line but shorter than a full line, the words in this line will be stretched so the head and end words of this short line will touch the left and right borders or margins of the page respectively. But when you have a line shorter than a half of a full line, this short line is still left-aligned. I don't know why Microsoft designs Word to have this (justified) as the default alignment - it's not the Chinese tradition. The tradition is left-aligned.

[Edited at 2007-02-05 18:49]


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Kate Hudson  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:56
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Correction to my original question Feb 5, 2007

Thanks to everyone for the input - what I should of course said in my original is: should Chinese text traditionally be left and right justified when possible?

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wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:56
Chinese to English
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Worry about both ends Feb 5, 2007

Kate Hudson wrote:

Thanks to everyone for the input - what I should of course said in my original is: should Chinese text traditionally be left and right justified when possible?



Modern day Chinese text is always left-justified. But ideally, you would like for the right side of the text to line up and be flush also. This typically applies to newpaper columns and advertising texts, etc.

Even in English, sometimes publishers go to the trouble of stretching the spacing of some words/letters to make the right-side margins flush. I've noticed this of some printed newspaper columns.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:56
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
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It must be justified on both sides and it is always possible to do so. Feb 5, 2007

Kate Hudson wrote:

Thanks to everyone for the input - what I should of course said in my original is: should Chinese text traditionally be left and right justified when possible?


However, the space betwen each character must be even. In English, if you justify both sides, the spaces between some words are wider. This is not permitted in Chinese.

In the last line of a paragraph, you should stop where it ends and need not align the right end to the lines above.

Hope this helps.


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Kate Hudson  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:56
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to everyone Feb 5, 2007

Jyuan, Thanks for your comments - I can now go back to my client and we'll be able to get this tricky problem looking right for our Chinese readers.

Many thanks, everyone.


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Nie
Local time: 16:56
English to Chinese
Just take care of the first and last lines of a paragraph Feb 6, 2007

Hi, my advice on formatting your Chinese text:

a) Indent the first line of each paragraph by two characters (or four English letters);

b) Never start a line with a punctuation mark (some DTP software may create such problems in which cases editing or setting is needed); and

c) If the last line of a paragraph contains only one character together with a punctuation mark, the common practice is to slightly edit that paragraph, either deleting one or two deletable characters (not necessarily that last character) to eliminate that short line, or adding one or more characters to expand that line a bit (important: do not change the meaning of the text).

In Chinese, a line containing only one character looks quite odd and is usually unacceptable in serious documents.

Chinese is a double-byte language. normally, it is always right aligned and left-aligned.

Nie



[Edited at 2007-02-06 13:24]

[Edited at 2007-02-06 13:25]


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Right justifying text in Chinese

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