DTP productivity metrics sources sought
Thread poster: ABOVE

Local time: 12:40
English to Polish
+ ...
Oct 28, 2009

Dear Colleagues,

I am looking for your opinions or outside sources (academic research would be the best) that provide analysis of DTP productivity metrics across languages, especiali bi-di ones.

For example, if you work on DTP of a TM-generated PPT in 50 languages , how much time it takes to process Hebrew, as compared to e.g. German.

Let me know if I should elaborate on my question.

Kind regards,

Ryszard Kasprzyk, SAP


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Unassessable variables Oct 28, 2009

Dzien dobry, Ryszard,

To set the environment, I translate EN-PT both ways, and do DTP in any language/pair among EN-PT-IT-FR-ES using PageMaker.

One vital aspect in DTP work is the end-client's "leniency" - let's call it so - regarding some lay-out specs. I'll illustrate with one single EN-PT example, to avoid writing a whole book here.

A few considerations:

  • Text translated from EN into PT "swells" up (and often close) to 20% in char count.
  • Hyphenation in EN-US and EN-UK may be different, but either way individual syllables may often be longer than 4 chars.
  • Hyphenation in Portuguese is phoneme-based, hence most (not all!) syllables are 2 or 3 chars long.
  • Fully-justified text in a language having long syllables tends to generate larger-than-usual spaces between words which, seen together, create something called (in Brazil) a "rat track" within text blocks.

This leads EN typesetters to frequently use left-justified text, that looks neater that fully-justified text with rat-tracks. On the other hand, as it's much easier to avoid rat-tracks in PT, fully-justified text tends to be regarded as more "professional" looking.

So, still considering an EN-to-PT translation DTP, if the end-client will accept that left-justified text in EN will become fully-justified text in PT, this will help a lot in accomodating the text "swell" in translation. Otherwise, text-crammed pages will require a lot of tinkering with kerning, tracking, leading, font-microsizing, etc. to fit in.

This is just one of the countless human-decision-driven aspects in interlanguage DTP, considering only one language pair, and in one direction. The specific layout itself brings in another array of variables.

My view is that there are too many variables involved, and too many language pairs around to predict any kind of productivity, even if only relative.




Local time: 12:40
English to Polish
+ ...
Thanks for input Nov 13, 2009

Dear Jose,

Thank you for your extensive answer.




Ulrich Leininger  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:40
English to German
+ ...
Change in length May 3, 2012

I agree that it would be hard to put it down to a number, e.g. "language X takes 20% longer than language Y". However, some languages tend to be easier: for example, Chinese is extremely compact, meaning a Chinese paragraph, sentence or word is almost always shorter than in the original language. This isn't that important if you have a largely continuous body of text, but with tables, image annotations, etc., "long" languages can require extensive and time-consuming adjustments.

For us, the change in length is the most important factor in estimating the workload.

The Economist recently published statistics for a few languages - it's probably not very reliable, but still interesting:



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