welcome in several languages

Text expansion

An earlier version of this post appeared on the Society for Technical Communication – Philadelphia Metro Chapter blog.

Most e-learning clients only think about translation and localization after they’ve already designed a course in English. We suggest reversing the process, because designing with localization in mind saves time and money.

Here are issues that e-learning designers can address during the development and authoring stage in order to make localization easier later.

Provide white space

Everybody talks about the importance of white space, so it shouldn’t surprise you that it’s important for localization also. Many languages expand in translation. Italian, Spanish, French, and German all require 20-30% more words and characters than English, and if there is no room for it to expand, visuals may need to be redesigned.  If you are using voice-overs, keep in mind that they will also get longer, unless you take steps to condense the script during translation.

Everyone learns best in their own language.
Contact us to learn more about e-learning localization.

Don’t get fancy with fonts

Minimizing font variation reduces the cost of integration. If you are using special fonts, the localization team may need access to the licenses (more about fonts here). The best strategy for creating a localization-friendly project is to supply a version of the module that uses the fonts included in the authoring tool. This simplifies things a lot.

Limit audio syncs

The number of audio syncs and the complexity of the animations bear a direct relationship to integration costs.  A voiceover in a different language will require re-syncing of the on-screen animation. In addition to the text expansion issue, differences in syntax can require rearranging the visuals. If you want a complicated animation scheme, ask yourself: are all your audio syncs really necessary?  You will save money later if you keep it simple now.

Add cue points

To make it easier for localizers to re-sync the audio with the animation, each file should contain all the necessary animation-audio syncs as cue points in the timeline. Although they are not necessary for the animations to function, cue points provide a single point of reference for localization engineers and lessen the chance of error.

Avoid unlabeled layers and objects

It’s very frustrating during localization to come across things like “untitled layer-1” because their role in the module is not clear. By using descriptive titles for objects and layers you make it easier for integrators to find editable content more quickly and efficiently

Never embed text in images

Translators use tools to draw out the translatable text and re-integrate the translated version into the e-learning platform. If text is embedded, the text is “stuck” and the graphics will need to be re-designed using a desktop publishing software like InDesign or Photoshop.

To learn more about our services,
visit our E-Learning Translation and Localization page.