Graphic Design Around the World

How Graphic Design Differs Around the World 

Why would you need a multilingual design studio, anyway? As long as the words on your documents are translated correctly, shouldn’t that be good enough?

Well, no. Not always, especially for ads, marketing materials, and other visually intensive content. Earlier this week, we looked at some reasons why multilingual typesetting is harder than it seems. But getting the words to look right on the page is only part of the puzzle. You might think that good design is universal, but what makes a “good” graphic design in the UK won’t necessarily resonate with your audience in Japan.

With that in mind, let’s a took at some of the ways graphic design differs around the world:

Graphic Design in Japan and Asia

In the West, we tend to think of the Japanese as the original minimalists. However, graphic design in modern-day Japan is often anything but minimalist. Japanese consumers tend to favor designs with bright colors and bold brushstrokes.  Circles and flowers are common motifs, and cute mascots are a common way for businesses to make themselves more relatable to their customers.

Japanese design is also frequently “information dense.” This tendency is especially notable when it comes to websites. Japanese websites often seem cluttered and “dated” to Western eyes, but as Rich Mirocco explains on the Canva Design school blog,

“(In Japan), details are a welcome aspect of communication and therefore web design too, as a website conveys information and sells the company and its products in place of a live salesperson.”

Many of these traits are also considered desirable in China and South Korea. In China,  Website Magazine  notes that

Chinese sites tend to be divided into many independent spaces, while on western style sites the layout is arranged around a focal point on a page. This is dictated by cultural norms around displaying and consuming information, with China more used to browsing rather than focusing.

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5 Reasons Multilingual Typesetting Is Harder Than You Think

You’ve no doubt heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.” But how does that apply to translation? To put it simply, words aren’t the only thing that can get lost in translation. Without special precautions, the visual impact of your content can easily get lost in the shuffle.

For example, international typesetting is trickier than it might initially seem to the uninitiated. However, ignoring its complexities can make your translations look unprofessional or even unreadable.  Here are 5 reasons multilingual typesetting is harder than you think:

Multilingual Typesetting Pitfall #1: Formatting

Text formatting conventions can vary between languages, even languages that are closely related. Here are some of the most common pitfalls:

  • Hyphenation and line breaks: Different languages have different rules about if, when and where you can use hyphens. For example, there are no hyphens in Arabic.  English allows them in a variety of circumstances, although grammar experts and organisations disagree on the particulars. German, on the other hand, allows hyphens, but only in certain locations. And then there are languages like Thai, which don’t have spaces in between words but do have rules about where the next line can begin.
  • Text Direction: In English, of course, we read from left to right. But that’s not true for all languages. In Arabic, Hebrew and Persian, text is written (and read) from right to left. This might mean you need to reverse the entire layout of your document. And what if there is some Latin text embedded in the document and left untranslated? That can get really interesting!
  • Numbers: Different countries write numbers in different ways, too. For example, some countries use a comma where we would use a decimal point, and vice versa.
  • Alignment: Standards for how to align text also vary from language to language. For example, in Chinese, it’s important that text is aligned precisely and justified on both sides, if possible. Meanwhile, Arabic is almost never aligned to the left.

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A Typesetting Glossary

The Language of Typesetting: A Short Glossary

Multilingual typesetting can sound like a daunting prospect, especially if you are not familiar with the industry lingo. While you don’t have to be an expert to get your publication on the shelves (physical or digital), it would be beneficial to have a working understanding of the terms you are likely to hear when discussing your project with industry specialists. You are likely to encounter many of these terms in design software and when talking to designers, printers and typesetters.

To avoid some of the confusion that may occur while discussing typesetting foreign languages, make sure you understand the whole process and the terminology that’s often involved. Let us get you started with 50 words that will help you navigate the journey to publishing your documents in any language. Read more

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