If you’re planning to take your company global, it’s important to take text expansion during translation into account ahead of time. This is especially crucial if you’re translating the text within marketing materials, because it’s easy to unexpectedly run out of space.
If you want to avoid having your message cut short, consider these tips on dealing with text expansion.
How Much Text Expansion Should You Expect?
The amount of text expansion to expect varies by language. For instance, Italian often only takes a little more space than English — about 10 percent more, in fact. On the other hand, German may take closer to 30 percent more room than English.
And if you’re using character-based languages such as Japanese, Chinese or Korean, you can expect both vertical and horizontal expansion of the content you translate.
In general, it’s best to anticipate about 35 percent more text than the original document when you’re translating from the English language. This means you need to leave sufficient space in your marketing materials while preparing for translation.
Keeping Your Documents Easy to Edit
If you’re not sure exactly how much space to leave when preparing your documents for translation, it’s important that your content be easy to edit. This means ensuring you can resize or move graphics and headings, as well as adjust/condense wording where necessary.
In addition, when you’re writing the original materials in English, keep in mind that many abbreviations we have in the English language cannot be replicated in other languages. So a shortened term that doesn’t take up much space in English could double or triple in size when you translate it, which could make your text expansion dramatic.
It’s also best to avoid using idioms that often don’t translate. An example of this would be the phrase “sleep like a log” or “the early bird gets the worm.”
In general, it’s helpful to keep text expansion in mind as you write. Know that you’ll likely have to shift the layout for each language after translation, so make sure anything you add to your marketing materials is flexible enough to adjust multiple times.
Why Planning Ahead Is Important
If you forget to plan for text expansion during the translation process, you run the risk of not being able to fit all of your content on the page as needed. This can make your project more difficult and it may mean you end up with marketing materials that don’t look professional or that don’t adequately represent your brand.
If you try to cram your newly translated text into the same space as before, you’ll be eliminating the white space that is so visually appealing to your readers. Allowing the text to keep going until the edge of the page will likely overwhelm audiences making them unlikely to read your materials.
You might be tempted to completely remove design elements, such as images, charts, logos, or headers, in an attempt to leave more room for text expansion. But doing so can take away from the reading experience you want your audience to have in every language. And if they see that the English version of your marketing materials has graphics and theirs does not, you run the risk of offending and/or alienating them.
Overall, if you want your content to appeal to several different audiences around the world, it’s important for you to keep the possibility of text expansion in mind as you prepare for translation of your marketing materials.
Once you’re ready to begin localizing your marketing materials, contact the professionals at Accredited Language and we’ll help you reach a whole new audience (or two or three!).