How to efficiently produce catalogs in foreign languages

Use our InDesign extension to automate localization

Catalogs in foreign languages or multiple languages are important for addressing customers in international markets. A catalog that describes and illustrates your offered assortment of products — in one or more foreign language versions — can boost sales in the respective market.

When producing catalogs in a foreign language version, also known as localization, many companies in the German-speaking region (DACH) begin with what is familiar, so they start with their German language catalog. Once the German catalog has been produced, these companies use it as a master catalog to create the foreign language version or versions.

However, the marketing and graphic department quickly recognizes that creating the localized catalog or catalogs can become very time consuming. Many companies transfer all text from the German catalog to a Microsoft Excel document using copy and paste. Next, a translation bureau, agency, or freelance translator translates all the German terms in the Excel table into the desired target foreign language. Then, all the translations are copied and pasted from the Excel table into the proper places in the InDesign file (catalog), replacing the German terms in the process.

This manual copy-and-paste process takes a long time, is inefficient, and is prone to error. In addition, the process must be repeated for each language edition of the catalog and each and every update to all the catalogs, regardless of language edition.

An InDesign extension from T+S can greatly help in producing catalogs in various languages, rapidly, simply, and free of errors.

Three steps to automated catalog production with an InDesign extension

Let’s say you start with a German catalog and wish make one in English just like it.

  1. Using the InDesign function “Conditional Text,” the InDesign extension marks all German text in the InDesign catalog (the master catalog) as “German” and saves all these German texts in a Microsoft Excel workbook in one long column. If a text is present in the catalog more than once (for example, the word “Price” or “Quantity”), the identical text is stored only once in the Excel worksheet.
  2. A translator translates all German terms in the Excel table into English. The English terms are stored in a second column in the Excel worksheet.
  3. The Excel worksheet containing both German and translated (English) terms is read by the InDesign extension. Press a button in InDesign, and the extension replaces the text marked in step 1 as “German” with the corresponding foreign language terms (in this case, the English ones) from the Excel table. The foreign language is marked as “Conditional Text” in the target language. Once all texts marked “German” have a corresponding foreign language equivalent, the catalog in the foreign language is complete.

The InDesign function “Conditional Text” makes it easy for the graphic designer to administer several language versions of in one InDesign document and to toggle back and forth between the versions using the mouse. (Click here to see our blog entry for an example of the use of “Conditional Text.”)

In the future, when the text in the master catalog is changed or new text is added, and there is not yet a foreign language translation in the Excel table for this modified or added text, the InDesign extension can be used to target exactly these modified and added texts and terms. That means that only the changed and added texts need to be translated; all other text already has corresponding translated texts in the Excel worksheet.

This saves on translation time and costs, as only changes and additions need to be translated, not entire catalogs.

Through the use of an InDesign extension from T+S to automatically pull text from catalogs, build up a glossary, and reuse translations, localization of catalogs becomes tremendously easier and faster than using manual routines. Especially when additional languages and future editions of catalogs are taken into consideration, automation using an extension saves valuable time and reduces errors. The extension finds missing translations automatically and can thus save on translation costs as well.

In summary, an InDesign extension from T+S can make producing foreign language catalogs a whole lot less expensive and time-consuming, enabling your company to address its customers and prospects in their preferred languages.

Would you like to learn more about catalog production or InDesign extensions?

Are you interested in discussing with T+S how to automate the production of your catalog?
Contact our expert, Michael Tschuschner, to get started today.

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