Home 9 Services 9 Exploring the Challenges and Solutions in Indigenous Multilingual Typesetting
3 min read

Nov 29, 2023 | Services

Exploring the Challenges and Solutions in Indigenous Multilingual Typesetting

Multilingual typesetting is the art of crafting visually appealing and linguistically accurate documents in multiple languages. Yet, it comes with unique challenges.

Indigenous Communications languages are an essential part of cultural identity. Preserving these languages in the digital world is crucial but poses many challenges. Multilingual typesetting allows for the accurate creation of documents in multiple languages. However, indigenous languages have complex features like special symbols, bidirectionality, etc. It makes specialised typesetting tools essential.

This blog defines the concept along with its importance and uses. It examines key issues in digitising indigenous languages through multilingual typesetting. It also suggests practical solutions to these problems. The goal is to promote indigenous language preservation and bridge the digital divide. Let us first find out how the blog defines the concept, its importance, and its uses. Thereafter, we will speak about its challenges and solutions.

Importance and uses of Multilingual typesettings

Multilingual typesetting is formatting and arranging text and images that have been translated into different languages.It is essential when translating documents like brochures and websites into other languages. This process takes the translated text and correctly fits it into the original design.

Professionals attractively arrange the text, images, and graphics to appeal to international audiences. This includes tweaking fonts, sizes, positions, line lengths, margins, and spacing.

The goal is to ensure translated materials like:

  • Marketing flyers
  • User manuals
  • Presentation slides
  • Product packages
  • Website pages

Look polished, read naturally, and convey branding consistently across languages. Smart software helps automate parts of multilingual typesetting for efficiency. But human expertise ensures aesthetics, readability, cultural appreciation and technical accuracy. This formatting & layout of translations helps global companies smoothly communicate their message effectively through key collateral in the local language. Additionally, translation management system  also helps global business for effective communication.

What are the Challenges and Solutions in Indigenous Multilingual Typesetting

Challenges in Matching Fonts and Language Symbols

Getting the fonts and symbols right is hard when typesetting documents in different languages.

  • One issue is that standard fonts don’t have all the letters and symbols used in different languages. So, some characters show up as weird shapes or boxes.
  • Also, each language has different rules about things like hyphens and spaces between words. The fonts need to match these rules.
  • Another problem is sizes of letters and symbols vary between languages. This can make text look uneven or ugly when different languages are mixed.

Solution – Smart Font Management Technology

Special font management software can solve these problems.

  • The software identifies the perfect font for each language in a document. It makes substitutions so rare language symbols display properly.
  • It also automatically adjusts the sizes and spacing between symbols and letters for visual harmony.
  • This smart technology ensures seamless blending of different scripts and alphabets when typesetting multilingual materials.

Challenge with Text Length Changing Between Languages

The text often gets longer or shorter when translating from one language to another. This causes significant issues for formatting and typesetting.

For example, German words are long when translated from English, stretching across the page. However, Asian languages with complex symbols, like Chinese, may shrink in length while needing more space between lines.

  • Other languages like Spanish can grow 20-25% longer than the original text when translated.
  • This unpredictable text expansion or contraction messes up document layouts and makes text overlap or spill over. It creates an inconsistent look across languages.

Solutions – Smart Adjustment of Layouts

Special software can dynamically tweak the layout to deal with text length changes between languages.

  • These programs automatically re-wrap lines, alter spacing, or change margins to fit each language’s text length best. 
  • This prevents overlapping or gappy text.
  • It allows seamless flow between languages within a document while maintaining a harmonious design through smart layout recalibration.
  • The result is readable and aesthetically consistent typesetting across multiple languages in one file.

Challenges –  Handling Mixed Text Directions

Typesetting gets very tricky when dealing with languages that flow in different directions.

  • While English reads left-to-right, languages like Arabic and Hebrew read right-to-left. This means carefully flipping layouts when translating documents.
  • Asian and Middle Eastern scripts like Chinese, Thai, and Arabic also have elaborate, artistic character sets. These complex symbols need precise positioning rules when formatting text.
  • It is hard to adjust texts between English and right-to-left scripts like Arabic manually. The intricate symbols also raise issues that hands must fix.

Solution: Automated Script Streamlining

Smart software can automatically flow text correctly between English and right-to-left languages in the same document.

  • The systems have advanced intelligence to recognise nuances of complex glyphs in special scripts like Chinese and Arabic. 
  • This ensures the perfect positioning of intricate symbols following each language’s unique formatting rules.
  • Automating streamlines typesetting mixed English and bidirectional text with complex Eastern/Middle Eastern character sets. No more need for difficult manual adjustments!

How Multilingual Typesetting Works?

When translating documents like brochures or posters into other languages, unique typesetting helps fit the text correctly. Here is a step-by-step guide to the process. First, experts extract and translate the original text into the target language – like Spanish or Chinese. Linguists make sure the translation sounds natural and matches the company’s voice.

The client can then check the translation to see if it communicates their message correctly before finalising. Next, a typesetting professional imports the translated text into the original design file through built-in programs like InDesign.

The typesetter spots and fixes any text that doesn’t appear in the new language. They may tweak things like:

  • Font sizes to allow translated words to fit
  • Space between lines or margins to suit the language
  • Issues with italics, underlining, soft line breaks

This ensures the text looks clean and readable after translation. It also preserves the original visual design. Significant text length differences can exist if the language differs from English, like Japanese. Typesetters dynamically adjust text box sizes, rearrange layouts, and re-flow text to compensate.

Finally, proofreaders check for any consistency or formatting issues across languages. The complete, accurately translated, and typeset document is ready for printing and distribution.

Collaboration between translators, typesetters, and proofreaders is key to polishing multilingual documents that effectively communicate the company’s message globally.


Multilingual typesetting connects businesses with global audiences but comes with hurdles that require human expertise to overcome. Issues arise from text length changes during translation, complex scripts mixing directions, and fonts lacking support for diverse language symbols. New AI software automatically corrects certain formatting problems, lending visual consistency across multilingual documents. However, only human translators have the linguistic skills for accuracy and cultural wisdom to convey content appropriately worldwide. By combining innovative technology and seasoned translators, businesses can facilitate clear communication and forge genuine connections across cultures through high-quality multilingual content. Complex software has a role in efficient typesetting, but cannot replace the discernment of experienced language specialists steeped in the nuanced contexts of diverse local markets. It is through human ability and technological innovation working in tandem that excellent multilingual typesetting can enable businesses to speak resonantly to global communities.

Emily Chen

Our Categories

Request A Free Quote


Top Posts