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Choosing the Right Font for your Multilingual Project Doesn't Have to Be Hard

Choosing the right font for any project is certainly important, but it doesn't have to be hard. The font you choose for a document or project can impact the piece’s readability and overall tone. While you wouldn’t expect an important legal document to be printed in a whimsical calligraphy style font, you also wouldn’t expect a lighthearted children’s book to appear in boxy, bold, capitalized lettering. When you add in the fact that a document will be translated into another (or several other) languages, the font you choose becomes even more important, and the reasons for choosing it even more complex.

When designing the layout for your translated document, you will want it to have roughly the same, if not identical, formatting when compared to the source files. You want both the tone and style of your document to be consistent, so choosing a font for your source file that will work well in the language you’ll be translating it into can really save a lot of headache down the line when formatting your translated projects. Here are a few key things to keep in mind when choosing a font:

  1. Determine which languages you’ll be translating into, and choose a font that will work in each one, or at least one that has a similar counterpart in your target languages. If one or more of your target languages uses non-Latin characters (Hebrew, Japanese, Russian, etc.), for example, you will have a more limited selection of font choices. If your original font will not support these characters, you will have to replace it with a font that does when translating. Depending on the font choices, this could make a big difference in the overall look and feel of the source and target texts.
  2. Size does matter. Keep in mind that text can often expand in a translated file. What may only take 5 words to convey in English could take 9 in Spanish. If your font is small to begin with and your text box is also small, you run the risk of either not being able to fit all of the text in the target file’s text box without making it minute, and potentially illegible. When designing your source document, choose a font size that will also work if it needs to be reduced to a slightly smaller size without impacting the overall readability and layout of the page.
  3. If you are using multiple font types within the same document, use fonts that work well together, no matter the language. Fonts should work well together, complementing each other throughout.
  4. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. If you aren’t sure if something will work in the target language, your translation agency can most likely provide a desktop publishing option to ensure your project is properly formatted for both source and target texts.

Branding in a Cyber World: Get on Board!

We'll be the first to admit that branding is fascinating. Lately we've read a lot in the news about branding for businesses, especially with the changes that Starbucks has made to its logo and product offerings. How many times has Starbucks made a slight change in its logo through the years, even changing the colors a bit? The symbol of the siren has only changed slightly, making it recognizable throughout the world. Today, we read that Starbucks is now allowing customers to buy their beverages and products by using their gift cards with an app on their smart phones. Although Starbucks is even starting to offer wine and beer at some locations (believe it!), it seems that the main branding trademark of Starbucks has not changed at all. The company still plays on an emotional connection with its customers. Holding that cup of coffee makes us feel cozy and warm in the winter, while shopping with a latte in your hand makes you feel like the chic shopper that you are. How can a single cup of coffee that you might be able to brew yourself at home make you feel that way? It's the branding logic of Starbucks, and it's not going anywhere for a while!

So, now that Starbucks has jumped on board with the new app feature for purchasing their products, why not the rest of us? Sure, we market translation, interpreting and language instruction for a living. But how can we reach more people through this cyber world and still relay our personal brand to our customers? Everyone loves (or needs) coffee, but not everyone needs a document translated to get themselves through the day. Our take on it is the way you treat your clients. We try to be as ethical as possible in dealing with our clients. We try to get them a translated document back early, if we're able. The other side of the coin is not actually the services you render, it's the way you treat the people who are your customers.

Again, we reference Starbucks. And no, they aren't paying us to promote their business. They just have it down. For the most part, they have friendly baristas who make beverages in a timely manner. They have light music playing and soft couches and easy chairs for you to sit and relax or work. They have outlets throughout the store for you to plug in your laptop or cell phone. You can spend endless hours with friends chatting away or working on your computer (especially now with their recently free Wi-Fi connection). Then, if you need a refill, just take your cup back and get one within a few minutes. Instant gratification and little work involved.

So, making your customers feel like they don't have to work that hard to get the quality service they need will keep them coming back. We recently had a customer who emailed us on the weekend to add something to his translated document. It could have waited until Monday, but he had a meeting with his boss the following week, and we knew he needed it. We took a few minutes to take care of the changes he requested, and as easy as hitting the "Send" button, he was a happier client.

We took a personal branding test once, and most of the people who responded (clients and friends) said that we are easy to work with and efficient. So, find out what your personal attributes are and run with them! Use the cyber world as a tool in helping you to continue using them to the best of your ability. If it's simply the way you talk to and treat your clients, what better way than in your emails to them? Make sure they know how much they matter to you.

Use the cyber world to your advantage. Obviously, that's the way things are going these days.