The world of translation has transcended the old expectation of "quick" translation without respect to quality or nuance. Because so much of the world is now accessible via the Internet, it is possible to have a virtual presence almost anywhere and to "see" your potential audience in the engagement of daily life. Thus a translation agency can prosper only when it matches the speed of translation with the accuracy, literacy and vibrancy of a highly skilled production team. Every translated document must do more than repeat the words in a new language. It must do so at the deepest level of nuance, and it must have visual appeal that matches the esthetic of its target culture. Clients today want their messages to be presented as pieces of literary quality. They want color, contrast and texture, and they demand that everything connect with the reader in the most natural way possible. However, right-to-left (RTL) languages can be challenging for those who have grown up in the left-to-right world. The following are some key points to observe:

  • Middle Eastern languages such as Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Urdu, Dari, Pashto and Kurdish are read in the direction opposite that of Western languages such as German and English.
  • Configuration of text, images and numbers:
    Issues with the direction of the text aren't a major challenge, thank to the "Text Direction" button in the Microsoft Office suite. A simple click will do the job. However, doing the same for languages such as Kurdish and Pashto in more visually oriented software (such as an Adobe product) could be a challenge. The most common issue arises when it's necessary to change the direction of the images. As the direction of the text changes, the entire layout must follow suit. So, once your German text has been translated into Arabic, Kurdish or Farsi and you want to do incorporate the translation in your typesetting platform, the single click of direction makes a mess of the text and images. Bullets and numbers are subject to a similar dynamic. Basically, the bullets in the German text--which appear to the left in the first column--will be seen in the second column of the Arabic text, which runs in the opposite direction. Furthermore, numbers don't follow a simple pattern in the Middle Eastern languages when mixed with English or German text. This means your translation on a typesetting platform main contain the same numbers in the Western "1, 2, 3" format and in the ١,٢, ٣, format, which should be essentially the same for consistency.

Here are some additional issues:

In some languages it isn't acceptable to hyphenate words. In languages such as Russian and German, compound words can be very long, so proper hyphenation is critically important.
Line breaks
You’ll want your text to be easy to read and for lines to break at the right point. With Japanese, it’s visually better for line breaks to take place between words, although this isn’t a linguistic requirement and software won’t do this for you. 
 Page structure
Right-to-left languages read from back to front, so all the artwork must be "flipped."
 Non-breaking spaces
In some languages, non-breaking spaces are needed in order to keep two words (or words and numbers) together.
Should capitalized words have accents? Are your accents showing? Does your font contain the required accents, or has it substituted them because the necessary characters are missing?
The standard practice for the capitalization of headings varies from one language to the next. Do you know which is right for your language?
Fonts are among the major pitfalls of multilingual typesetting. What happens if your corporate font doesn’t contain the letters needed for your target language? (This is relatively common with languages that require an extended Latin alphabet.) Should you use a Unicode font? What about right-to-left languages such as Arabic, Farsi and Hebrew?
 Text length
It might seem like a good idea to fill every bit of space with text, but doing so can create problems when it comes to typesetting a foreign language. Did you know that French is typically 25% to 30% longer than English?

While handling text ligatures, justifications, diacritic marks and positioning, kerning, or Arabic and Hindi numbering in Arabic, Persian, Hebrew or Kurdish might be a nightmare for our clients or less experienced LSP practitioners, our graphic design team strives to convey the original intent of your German texts into the target languages.


Understand the entire process

Proficiency in any of the creative design and print applications doesn't mean you'll typeset multilingual material accurately or creatively. You may be able to position the text as indicated, but will you know whether there’s a mistake in the grammar or script? Do you really want to lose the sleek style and quality of your glossy marketing brochure as the result of typesetting by someone who isn't fully aware of the intended nuance? To set type accurately and with creative flair, a solid understanding of the whole process is essential.

Invest in the correct software

Most versions of design software don't support right-to-left languages or complex scripts. For example, InDesign and Illustrator don't support Arabic, Farsi and Hebrew and special Middle Eastern versions are required, or world-ready composers must be added. If you paste a language such as Arabic into unsupported software, it will show the characters but will often reverse them. For example, Arabic would be written as cibarA… (but in Arabic, of course). A limited knowledge of complex scripts + the incorrect software = one big foreign-language headache.

Employ the right people

If you’re going to typeset foreign languages in-house, be sure you have adequate linguistic and cultural knowledge. If you're not quite certain of that capability, seek a professional service. Highly skilled professional typesetters might seem like a luxury, but the alternative could be hours of editing and resolving complex multilingual typesetting issues. Because you’ve already spent money on a quality translation, you really don’t want to be let down by sub-par typesetting.


ReoRex offers an extremely proficient team of DTP and design professionals for Middle Eastern languages. So, you can always be sure of a great result. Simply ask one of our project managers for a sample of a designed page in your target format. Our experience in DTP for Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish, Hebrew, Turkish, Urdu, Pashto and Dari speaks for itself. Request a sample, and you'll get the message. ReoRex is your ideal partner: a single point of contact for access to the realm of international business, culture, academia, government and science.