Poll: Freelance translators, are you considering to start providing Desktop Publishing (DTP) services?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 07:03
Aug 29, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Freelance translators, are you considering to start providing Desktop Publishing (DTP) services?".

This poll was originally submitted by Sophia Jusoff. View the poll results »


Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 17:03
English to Russian
+ ...
No Aug 29, 2010

These are absolutely different professions! That's almost the same as if you asked if I was going to provide financial consultancy or psychological counselling or whatewer else!

[Edited at 2010-08-29 09:33 GMT]


François-Xavier Pâque
Local time: 16:03
Member (2010)
Russian to French
+ ...
What is ? Aug 29, 2010

Could somebody explain to me exactly what DTP is ?

Thank you very much !


Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:03
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
No Aug 29, 2010

Personally it would bore me to death.

François: it's Desktop Publishing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desktop_publishing


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:03
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Oh, no! Aug 29, 2010

Alexander Kondorsky wrote:
These are absolutely different professions! That's almost the same as if you asked if I was going to provide financial consultancy or psychological counselling or whatewer else!

[Edited at 2010-08-29 09:33 GMT]

They are different professions, however often closely connected.

In your analogy, it would be as if a financial consultancy firm included in their package psychological counselling to regain the courage to invest after having suffered some heavy losses with their competitors.icon_biggrin.gif

Translators seldom go into "creative, from scratch" DTP, but mostly into rebuilding publications after they have been translated. Some colleagues plunge into the pitfall of attempting to rebuild rather complex publications using... MS Word, which is conceptually a word processor, viz. a sci-fi-bloated typewriter.

Some clients/PMs plunge into the pitfall of coordinating the work of: a) a translator who doesn't know squat about DTP; and b) a DTP artist who can't understand a word of either the source or the target languages... or both! This often involves a lot of rework for both, and may tend to an endless loop.

The problem is that most current feature-laden DTP software is directed to creative artists, so translators will be lost in countless and complex resources and plugins they'll never have to touch with a ten-foot pole.

The solutions I see for translators are:

  • Get to know a DTP artist, and watch how they do it, especially the workflow. Learn how you can deliver your translation in a way that will make their work easier, faster, and closer to failproof. It doesn't matter much which DTP software they use - though each one is quite different - because the intent is for you to see that, differently from a word processor, it's not one long "sausage" of text & pix, and text boxes are much more flexible and easier to handle.
  • Learn to use a PDF editor, like InFix or alikes - though I don't know of any yet. As the PDF format is overwhelmingly popular, insted of cursing it, work with it.
  • If you feel like doing it, learn to do DTP. Actually, if you can lay out a translated publication in any DTP application and distill it into a PDF, it won't be obvious which software you used to do it. Though I never tried it, opensource Scribus DTP software could be a low-risk, no-cash, time-only investment (if it works).

Quite frankly, the concepts used in DTP are much more natural to humans (e.g. right-justify, hyphenate, underline) than those found in CAT tools (e.g. propagate, fuzzy match, concordance), as we've been deliberately using the former since we learned to write, while we have always used the latter intuitively. So it shouldn't be rocket science.


Michaël Temmerman  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 08:03
English to Dutch
+ ...
no Aug 29, 2010

As in translation business investments in new software and knowledge usually aren't rewarded at all by higher rates, I won't even consider this.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:03
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
No Aug 29, 2010

I do not interpret either.

I try to specialise in translating certain subject fields and provide a really good service in those.

With three source languages and a tendency to spread over a very wide range of subjects, I wonder occasionally whether I am already stretching myself too far for a one-person business.

I am not interested in DTP, though having once worked at a printer's, I can mark up a PDF if I need to. Luckily others do like DTP work, and they have to earn a living too.



Theo Bernards (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:03
English to Dutch
+ ...
I already offer partial DTP checking... Aug 29, 2010

But only to the extent that I can check a translated document against a source document to see if the formatting, lay-out and typesetting in the target document follows the source document and comment on obvious differences so that the original DTP-artist (and artists they usually are) can amend the document where necessary. I charge a nominal fee for that service if the translation is already done by another translator (hey, we need to eat in lean times) and if I have translated the text myself it I do it free of charge, as an ad-hoc added service. It's an effective way of keeping the customer happy, because DTP doesn't come cheap and they generally appreciate the extra pair of eyes looking over the results of such work. Satisfied customers tend to come back with more assignments, so I don't say no too quickly to such requests.

And I agree with José, they may be different skills, but they are closely related and I think it is only natural for clients to ask if you offer such a service as a translator.


Laureana Pavon  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:03
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...

Partnering is a great idea Aug 29, 2010

I agree that translating and DTP (as opposed to formatting a Word document) are completely different things, but I do find that end clients need both.

My solution?
I've partnered with a professional designer. It works out great for both of us because translation clients need design and DTP customers often need translations.

Broadening the services I am able to offer has helped increase my end client base.


Elizabeth Lyons  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:03
French to English
+ ...
What do you mean? Aug 29, 2010

What is the implication of this question? In a vacuum (am I missing something?) the only thing I can think of is that this suggests that there is not enough translation work, so we should start offering non-language related services to survive.

Why would I want to add anything so far afield from translating, when there is plenty of translation work available for professionals?

With all due respect to the skills needed for DTP, they require a technical background where, in my view, translation is based on a more traditionally academic one. While there is a certain amount of DTP/IT competency involved in working electronically now, that is tangential to the main task, representing tools to process the files.

This poll question needs some context. Otherwise, I feel this question is rather irrelevant to linguistic specialists.

[Edited at 2010-08-29 20:40 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-08-29 20:42 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-08-29 20:45 GMT]


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:03
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, but there's not much demand Aug 29, 2010

I don't really even consider it part of my translation business. I was a staff editor in international organizations for 13 years before earning the official title of translator. I edited books from start to finish, which also involved a lot of translating, so I count that period as part of my translation career. At that time, I also studied printing, layout, and design when we still used hot type and it was still considered an arcane craft.

Nowadays everyone is a desktop publisher and they usually don't want much help. However, I have had 8 clients for whom I did their regular newsletters over the years.


Anna Katikhina  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:03
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Does this count? Aug 30, 2010

I work with several publishers already... Why bother doing it myself when there are skilled proffessionals?icon_biggrin.gif


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Poll: Freelance translators, are you considering to start providing Desktop Publishing (DTP) services?

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