Setting Guide

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Why do we need a guide to typesetting?

The advice given in this guide is not really special in any way, it simply follows good, standard DTP practice.

The basic idea is that the more time you initially devote to the work, the more time you save later on. This is especially important if the document is to be translated into several languages. You achieve far better results with the translated files if the setting is carried out correctly and well from the start.

Cost-effective work

Following the advice in this guide makes economical sense in two ways:

  • It makes the translation process easier
  • It saves time when doing the layout work on the translated files

It makes the translation process easier

Paragraph and line breaks in sentences

Avoid using paragraph and line breaks in the middle of sentences:


If sentences are split in the middle by paragraph or line breaks, it becomes very difficult for the translator to work with the text. It is better to adjust the width of the article, or define an indent in the style template for the paragraph.

When you have a picture with text around it, select wrapping to wrap the text around the picture rather than moving the text down using paragraph/line breaks.

Paragraph/line breaks are sometimes used to keep figures and units together. In which case, insert a non-breaking space between the words that are to be kept together.


When creating a table, it is important to keep the text together. This table looks fine on first appearances:

TabellYta EN.jpg

But on closer investigation, it doesn’t look so good:

TabellUnder EN.jpg

It would be impossible for the translator to work with this text. Instead of using tabs to separate the texts, a table with cells should be used. If tables are not available in your application, dividing the texts into three columns and using one text frame per column is a better solution.

Save time when doing the layout work after translation

Style templates

Remember to define all text formatting in paragraph and character style templates.

Formatmallar EN.jpg

Always adhere to the paragraph and character style templates. Avoid using local formatting and ‘no style’. Locally formatted text and text that is not defined with a paragraph or character style template can lose its format when importing the text after it has been translated.

LokalFormattering EN.jpg

Special characters that are used in bulleted lists, such as bullets or squares, should have a defined character style. If your application allows automatic bullet lists and numbered lists, using them will speed up your production.

DTP in Word

If the layout has been done in Word, it is important for us to know which version of Word the original was created in.

It is also very important that we get the document template that was used (.dot-fil). If there is no document template, or if we don’t get the one that was used, a lot of the formatting may be lost during the translation stage.

WordMallar EN.jpg

Tabs and indents

Use defined indents in the paragraph style template. If indents are created with paragraph/line breaks and tabs or spaces, it becomes extremely difficult to translate and the translated text will ‘shift around’. Do not use tabs on several levels (also see section “Tables”).

If there are any tabs, tab positions should be set (preferrably defined in the paragraph style template). Don't use lots of tabs one after the other.

TabbarIndrag EN.jpg

If a text has lots of tabs, it will move and may become hidden behind other elements, or overset. By setting the tab positions, it is more likely that all text will remain visible and correctly positioned.

Images and pictures

Anchored pictures

InDesign, FrameMaker: Anchored pictures and groups can be used. For multi-page documents with long stories running over several pages, it can be a great advantage to anchor the pictures and their respective captions with the body text. It will speed up final layout, greatly reducing the number of layout tweaks needed.

Quark, PageMaker, older DTP programs: Pictures that are anchored into text will disappear when the text is exported. They will then need to be manually pasted back into the translated text with the subsequent risk that they may end up in the wrong place.

TextbundnaBilder EN.jpg

Text in images

You must also remember that text in pictures has to be dealt with separately as it does not export with other text. In many cases, the best solution is to re-create the texts in the layout application (e.g. InDesign), covering/hiding the texts in the graphics files. This way, the text resides in the main document and will be translated with the rest of the text.

Text expansion

Remember to leave plenty of space for language expansion. Some languages can expand by as much as 20-25% in comparison with the original language.

Textexpansion EN.jpg

If insufficient space is allowed for expansion, not all of the translated text will be seen. Text can be squeezed or reduced in font size, but ideally there should be enough space from the start.

Linked text frames

This section applies mainly to InDesign and Quark - not FrameMaker: Sometimes text frames are linked in order to have the text automatically flow from frame to frame throughout the document (from page header frame to a body text frame, to caption frame, back to body frame and so on). As opposed to the "linking the main story"-habit, this linking of ALL text frames may cause problems. This is because most of the small text frames are not designed to allow text expansion - and most translations will expand.

Laenkade textramar 1.png

When the translation is imported, the portion of the text that doesn't fit into its original frame will end up in the next text frame. Sometimes it will not fit there either and will then be moved into the text frame after that - and so on. Nothing is lost but it can become very messy and hard to get the texts to end up in the text frames where they belong - especially if texts have moved to some other spread. In this example, none of these text frames, except for the last in the story, were designed to allow text expansion, which yields this seemingly chaotic result:

Laenkade textramar 2.png

Our recommendation is to break up long link chains before sending the document to translation. This way, texts cannot end up in unexpected places, and each frame can be scaled to reveal it's text without affecting the other text frames.

Laenkade textramar 3.png


The uppercase text attribute does not work on some of the non-Western European languages (using "Latin Extended" font sets) in older versions of InDesign and in Quark.

If text that appears in uppercase is changed to ‘true’ uppercase it will work properly when the typeface is changed. It will also make proper translation easier for translators working with Latin Extended font sets, which is why we recommend using cap

We can provide an InDesign script for changing case on large documents, which will deal with the whole issue safely and completely. Please contact us if you want access to, and instructions on how to use, this script.


InDesign CS4, Quark: Unfortunately, the small capitals text attribute does not work on non-Western European languages. Instead, the text has to be written as normal uppercase.

However, if you use a font that includes OpenType definitions for small capitals - and provided that the font contains all characters that are needed for the target language - there is no need to change the text layout.

There is also a special OpenType case called "OpenType all small capitals" in the newer versions of InDesign, and this case is safe for use on all languages that the font itself supports.