Lewis Moss concludes his two-part guide to localising your elearning.
So, where were we?
- Embedded text: Embedded, non-editable text in images need extra attention and can slow things down, especially when covering the main part of the image. Where possible, make the text available for editing in InDesign. If not, all the original PSD files will be needed.
- Word clouds: Avoid designing paragraphs or ‘word clouds’ with mixed font sizes that look good in English but have no chance of being replicated in the target language: quite often they do not have the same impact when localised and can often be ‘lost in translation’. Furthermore, due to word order difference, key words in English at the beginning of a sentence might end up in the middle or at the end of the sentence when translated.
- Style sheets: One of the most frequent issues encountered is incorrect and inconsistent usage of style sheets, in particular where one style has been edited but some instances of bold text, italics or even different fonts have been changed manually. This can cause the most significant delays of all, and is the biggest source of changes encountered during internal QA.
- Jumping the gun: Sending the artwork to be typeset BEFORE it is signed off is never a good idea, and neither are new design changes after work has commenced. Where significant changes are requested mid-project the only option is to begin the project again incurring further costs to the client.
- Right to left: Arabic or other right-to-left languages require that documents have their alignment flipped. If the design is overly complicated this will take much longer.
- Text expansion (again!): The most usual problem found when subtitling a video or slides is that the original film has been edited precisely to match the English. This causes the same problem of text expansion as explained above. The resulting text either does not fit the same time slot or is too long to read at a comfortable pace. This can be tweaked for better timings but it is always better to take expansion of text due to translation into account and add more pauses in the original work.
- Graphic placement: Another common issue particularly in animated or explanatory videos is that important graphics are placed in the area where subtitles would normally be run (mid-bottom region of the screen), so they end up being obscured. This can be worked around by scaling down the video and placing a border where you add the subtitles.
- Text Expansion (again!): As with subtitling and printed material, text expansion is the problem. If a language is longer when written, it will more than likely take longer to speak. If the voice-over is then synced to the video then often the timeslots given are insufficient as they stem from the timing of the English. So, where possible, it is best to add a few seconds of space before and after each part of script. This allows voice artists to be able to deliver their lines as faithfully to the original as possible without rushing to fit into a specific time slot.
- Backing music: Sometimes clients like to turn down the volume of a video during speech and then turn it back up afterwards. Although this works great for wedding DJs, for translated voice-overs often the gap is too short to fit all the speech in. If your video has this feature then it can be replicated in the localised version, but you should provide the background music on its own with no volume tweaks so that it can be adjusted.
- Review: As with any work, checking the end result is essential before signing off on the finished project. Does the message still get across; at the end of the day learning is the goal and the localisation process shouldn’t hinder this.
They are other things to keep in mind when localising elearning projects and many of the things listed may not apply to your project. If you’re unsure when looking to localise a project the best thing to do is check with a quality localisation provider who can support you throughout the process.
About the author
Lewis Moss works for Adelphi subtitling services.