Great Tips for Graphics in Technical Communications

For technical communications, graphics and images play a crucial role. It is much easier to show how a complex, technical process or procedure works visually than explain it in paragraph form. Technical documentation is typically filled with screenshots, flowcharts, diagrams, drawings, etc. When it comes time to translate your materials, graphics need to be localized, too. As a language services provider with a multilingual desktop publishing (DTP) team, we wanted to provide you with a few tips on how to prepare and handle graphics localization.

1. Source Files

We always say to avoid embedding text in images, but in technical communication we see this quite frequently. To save our clients time and money, we prefer to have source files such as Photoshop or Illustrator files, rather than .gif, .jpg, or, .tif files as the text is not editable. Source files along with any fonts or style guidelines that you have for images are helpful. We understand source files get lost or are unavailable. If this is the case, we can recreate images or create text boxes to lay out translated text, but these steps add extra time and cost.

2. Screenshots

If screenshots are used in documents, we would need localized versions of the screenshots. It’s important that the text is translated correctly to match the various buttons and terms used in the software.

3. Linking Graphics

When you link, any change made to the image in Photoshop or another design program will automatically update wherever the picture is embedded. This helps when placing localized images back into the file and for future updates.

4. Text Expansion

Text can expand from 14-40%, depending on the language. This can create problems with layout, especially tables, charts, or other areas with spatial restrictions. These areas may need to be resized. If you allow for font size reduction, let us know what your guidelines are ahead of time. Or, you can use numbered callouts in your documents. Often, in the quoting process, the LinguaLinx team will point out potential areas where expansion may be a problem and will ask the client how you want this handled.

5. Listing Graphics

Providing a list of all graphics used in a document is extremely helpful. The list would include the names of the files, file types, if the image needs to be localized or left as-is, if the source file is available, page numbers, etc.

For Translating Technical Communications

When working with an LSP on translation of technical materials, accuracy and timely delivery are of upmost importance. Graphics are an important part of this process, and any of these tips can be very helpful in saving time and money for you as the client.


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