DTP for the Common Man

Our "Common Man" blog series is committed to bringing you the most easy-to-digest information on translation industry topics and technologies. Previously, we addressed CMS platforms, API, connectors, proxy solutions, SEO marketing, crowdsourcing, GeoFluent, global testing, and sales skills. This week's post is aimed at a topic that many people may find confusing or confounding: DTP.

What does DTP stand for? What is it used for? How does it fit into the "big picture" when it comes to translation?

Let's read on!

What is dtp?

DTP stands for desktop publishing. You probably know what those two words are independently, but when put together, do you get any inkling as to exactly what DTP is?

If not, that's ok. We're here to help.

DTP is the use of specific page layout software on a personal computer (hence, desktop) to create documents. The software is used to manipulate blocks of text and visual elements (such as illustrations) to produce an appealing display. DTP documents can be in any number of file types, including PDF, e-books, slide shows, web pages, etc. Read: any complicated document containing elements that cannot be manipulated in a word processor.

                     Example of DTP at work.

                     Example of DTP at work.

Common DTP software includes:

  • Adobe InDesign
  • Framemaker (also owned by Adobe)
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • Print Shop
  • QuarkXPress
  • Scribus (open source)

Those who exclusively work in DTP are sometimes referred to "DTP artists" or "DTP engineers."

why use dtp?

DTP is necessary when dealing with heavily formatted documents, such as magazine articles, cookbooks, commercial printing, and instructional manuals, among many others. These types of documents contain more than just text; normally there are also graphics, which must be placed in a very specific place on the document layout. DTP software contains tools which can manipulate the text and graphics to create a desired end display. As such, using a simple word processor for a heavily formatted document will normally not work because the word processor is not properly equipped.

The art of translation has been around much longer than computers and software, so you may be wondering how people dealt with heavily formatted materials before the advent of these technologies. Well, before the use of software, the tasks involved in DTP were completed manually by graphic designers and professional typesetters. As you can imagine, it was a lot less technical and a lot more time-consuming than it is today.

When it comes to modern-day translation of heavily formatted documents, the text has to be extracted from the files and sent to the translator. When the translator sends back the translated text, it has to be reintegrated into the original file format and made to look like the original. This is where DTP comes in. The DTP team back-converts the document, and the elements that were extracted are replaced so that the document is print-ready. 

The seasoned Operations Team here at Lionbridge onDemand is ready to help you with your DTP translations. Lionbridge has a fully-staffed, dedicated DTP team who work to ensure all deliverables are formatted correctly and are of the highest quality. To learn more about Lionbridge’s DTP services, please visit our website


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