Numbers in Different Languages: Typesetting Multilingual Numerals

Not all languages share the same numerals; something it can be importantly to remember from the start of the design process. A page design that plays on the shape of a number might fall apart when typeset in a foreign language.

First, what we all have in common. Whatever language we speak, we all count. Quantities matter. The vast majority of languages have separate words for particular amounts. 

Many of these use the same symbols for these amounts as we do in English. The French might say “dix” when the English say “ten”, but we both write “10”.

But many languages do not use the same symbols. Continue reading “Numbers in Different Languages: Typesetting Multilingual Numerals”

Selecting languages for multilingual documents

Which languages should be present in a multilingual publication? In short, it depends on the publication, its budget and target audience. But there are some foreign languages that crop up again and again that will always get used in winning multilingual publications.
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Designing for multilingual print: starting points for foreign language versions

When a document is to be produced in several foreign languages,* it is all too common for the English to be produced first and this document translated. If you are starting a multilingual design project, what are the simple considerations to help your design work?
Continue reading “Designing for multilingual print: starting points for foreign language versions”

Getting started with German typesetting

German is an important global language, with approximately 120 million native speakers and perhaps 80 million more who speak it as a second language. It is the main language of Germany and Austria, with a significant part of the Swiss population also having it as a mother tongue. There are also noticeable pockets of German speakers in Namibia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. In fact, German is one of the nine recognised regional languages of Namibia. There are some variations from country to country: for instance, a specific translation may be required for Swiss German.

The German language is particularly important in business, as Germany is an important member of the G8 and the European Union. The economy is the fourth largest in the world (by nominal GDP) and the fifth largest by purchasing power parity. Crucially, Germany has become a goods import/export powerhouse, being the world’s second largest exporter and third largest importer. In other words, Germany exports more than the entire USA. In fact, its exports amount to more than those of France and Japan put together. Going the other way, Germany’s colossal imports are greater than those of the UK and France combined. So, in business terms, German is important but what’s the deal when it comes to German typesetting?
Continue reading “Getting started with German typesetting”

Arabic typesetting: get it right (to left)!

Arabic is one of the world’s great languages.

The Arabic language has a long cultural history, with Classical Arabic stretching back to least the 4th Century. Arabic typesetting and calligraphy also has a long history, as described in this excellent ilovetypography article, “Arabic calligraphy as a typographic exercise”.

Today, it is spoken as a first language by 280 million people. Geographically it is a key language in a wide belt stretching from Morocco across north Africa via Libya and Egypt through the Middle East to the Gulf states in the East such as UAE and Oman. Arabic is an official language in 26 countries, the third most frequent behind English and French.

So it is no surprise that Arabic frequently crops up in multilingual typesetting projects. Yet, for those used to other languages, Arabic typesetting contains some stumbling blocks.
Continue reading “Arabic typesetting: get it right (to left)!”

Multilingual typesetting advice, tips and how to’s coming up!

This is a new website, and a new blog.

It is written by people who have spent a long time (too long in some cases) actually doing multilingual typesetting.

Whatever the language, whatever the destination: we hope to have useful advice and tips to offer.

We aim to bring you the impartial inside track on what you need to know, so your publications will be as excellently typeset in foreign languages as they are, no doubt, in English!