Why Formatting Needs to be Adapted During Website Translation

onApril 30, 2015


Website TranslationMany businesses and organisations use a translation agency to handle their website translation work for them. Translating a website is a lot more than just translating text as spacing issues are very important. A chunk of text could be translated perfectly satisfactorily by a translation services provider, but because of natural differences in the length of the source and translated languages, you could end up with messy pages. The translated text may be far too long or to short. One way around this is to ensure that the formatting is adapted during the translation process.

The formatting issue arises because of the differences in sentence structure and syntax between different languages. Some languages are just wordier than others. Analytical languages, like Indonesian or Tagalog, for instance, just don’t use the same number of words as non analytical languages. The meaning is conveyed by the context. Some languages have complex prefixes and suffixes as well as noun classes (e.g. the German or Russian male, female and neuter) which make segments of text longer than other languages. One way around the space issue is to make your blocks of text of such a size that there is sufficient space to allow for greater or less length after translation.

In addition to spacing, things like font styles may not be equivalent when a piece of text is translated, so even if the space setting is similar, the selection of a different font may be needed to ensure that a website text entry fits the intended space on the translated page. Commonly used fonts such as Arial, Calibri and Times New Roman are usually supported by most languages, but more obscure fonts may not be. In addition, italicisation may not be supported by the language required.

Most professional translation services that regularly handle website page translations should be well aware of formatting issues. It is basically a matter of making your requirements clear and having your translated pages checked so that if there is a messy page, it can be modified by your designer.

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