Document translation: Tips on how to prepare

In today’s media communications knowing how to prepare for document translation is important. Online user-friendly tools exist to create flyers, ads and presentations. Most of these free tools are considered as “time and money savers”, but they can also be deceiving depending on the use requirements.

Creation of ads, flyers and presentations that will need to be translated into other languages will benefit from early preparation.  Organizations can save money and time in the early creation process by allocating a budget for the translation and desktop publishing process.  

Preparation for document translation


When creating a document for translation there are some important steps that need to be considered previous to starting the process:  font size, spacing, selection of graphic design platforms, free online design platforms vs selecting an experienced graphic designer; and source files that are adaptable to your selected images and graphics.


Once the English version of a document or a presentation is approved for translation, it is important to consider language extension or contraction in the spacing.  Spanish is a language that requires more page space when translated. An option is to reduce the font size for the Spanish version; however, this may result in some difficulty for readers to follow.  Other languages may contract in size, and others, as Chinese, Japanese or Korean require correct placing of text characters in a sentence line.

Graphic designers preparing document for translation


Many on-line platforms can be extremely useful and user-friendly for graphic design creations. Free platforms, such as CANVA, offer services and features such as 250,000+ free templates, 100+ designs, hundreds and thousands of photos and videos to select.  What can go wrong?

Although these platforms offer great value in the source language creation process, to adapt these designs for translated material requires essential language specific planning. Example: 

CANVA offers many user-friendly features with their free account, plus other features such as branding and up to five (5) users at their minimum price.  We will now review the use of their free account and see what possible issues you may encounter.

*CANVA’s free account does not let the designer save the source file. You can create a document and export it to PDF. A nice, print ready PDF. What could be the problem?   Once you have a final file it is time to send it to the translation team. A translator is capable of translating everything, but if the translator is not a graphic designer, he/she will only be able to complete the translation process in the actual PDF file.

To create a translated,” mirror image” of the source file, the best recommendation is to find a multilingual-multimedia agency, capable of producing a translation of the document that recreates the quality of the original English file.  When an agency asks for the original source file in which the document was created, CANVA’s will not let you produce a source file, you can only export a PDF.   This is important to take into consideration, because without a source file it is difficult to guarantee a mirror image of the target language document.


If your organization does not have an original source file but would still want the target language document to look exactly as the English file, it is important to select a graphic designer who can recreate the source file.   The cost of a Graphic Designer is based on an hourly rate. The cost to design documents will vary according to the size and complexity of the design of the original source file.

Now the meaning of FREE is no longer a commodity, but rather a hassle.  The time and money an organization tried to save will now be spent on the recreation of the file, an English source file that could have been created at the onset of the process with special attention to graphic design preparation for translation into other languages.

CANVA is actually a great tool! But if an organization’s goal is to translate their material into different languages in the future, we recommend using a Graphic Designer who can create a malleable file that can be adapted to different languages in the future.  An added bonus is that updates and changes can be easily performed, avoiding the problem of having to recreate the file in CANVA, with savings in costs and time.

Merino Productions Translations recommends


When in need to create material targeted to more than just the English-speaking community,  best practice is to hire a professional Graphic Designer to create marketing or educational material.  It is important that the designer works with the latest updated file with the industry standard Desktop Publishing software. We recommend Adobe In-Design.  Selection of a translation agency that offers experienced Desktop Publishing services (not all translation agencies are capable of this).  Select a multilingual multimedia agency that can produce a ready to translate, ready to print Desktop Publishing file, which is ready for future updates.

When creating a document for translation Merino Multilingual recommends you create a file in Microsoft Word in order to save your source file for future edits or for language translation. It also allows charts and image creation.  When preparing to send your documents to a translation agency, it is recommended you save the images of the document in a separate folder, where they can be easily accessed, especially the source language images that have written content. 


  • If you are planning on creating a document that will need translation, It is recommended to NOT use Publisher.
  • Consider font size, spacing and design methods when preparing the source file in order to prepare for a quality mirror image translated document.



Merino Productions, a unique agency West of Ventura County that provides Multilingual Solutions for multilingual multimedia: Video Productions, Voice-Over, Subtitles, Desktop Publishing and Document Translation.


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