Webmasters - Formatting pages for translation
When you are creating a website, the idea of it being translated into several other languages may not be uppermost in your mind, or there may be reasons why you prefer to keep it in the original language only. However, if you do plan to present your information in several languages, you should take the language-related aspects into account right from the drafting stage. This will save you a lot of time when you have to maintain the site after translation, and it will help the translators to provide you with the highest standard of product.
Here are some tips on setting-up a multilingual website and working with the translators which the DGT's webmasters have compiled for you.
Creating a multilingual website
Leave some room on your screen.
If possible, try to avoid filling your screen up to the last centimetre with information. Since translations (especially from English into another language) can be longer than the original, the presentation might not look as nice as your original or, in the worst case, might become a mess.
Use the "include" function of FrontPage for repetitive text.
It helps to keep maintenance low and consistency high. The files included could be named with an i_ at the beginning so that the translator knows that the text concerned is to be inserted into several documents. If and when you need to modify it, only the "include" file will have to be updated and sent again for translation, i.e. it will take you and the translator much less time and effort.
Wherever possible use styles and avoid hard encoded formatting information.
This not only keeps your file size down but makes it much easier for the translator to concentrate on the text without having to bother with its formatting. With the tools we have, we cannot add, remove or move tags easily within the text.
Prefer plain text to images.
We know that text images are very popular amongst webmasters, but keep in mind that the DGT cannot handle them. If you use images with text, create one for each language and use the very same text as "alt" description so that you can copy paste it into the image afterwards. And another tip: be generous with the image size, since more space might be needed for the target language.
Use relative table, cell, box sizes.
Preparing your website for translation
- Create a file for each language version and replace links with the corresponding language version from the outset. Once your original version is finalised (not before), create a file for each language version and adapt the links inside it accordingly. Be aware that the translators have no way of modifying link information.
- Create text images for each language version. Even if you don't yet have the translation, it is good practice to create an image file with the correct extension from the outset (_da.gif, _de.gif). See also "prefer plain text to images" and the previous tip.
- Put alphabetical lists into the correct order for each language after translation. Translators have no way of modifying the order in which the information is presented. So don't forget to do it after translation.
- When making a Poetry request, specify clearly where the text is to be posted, i.e. give the full URL (http://europa.eu/...).
Particular attention should be paid when linking to a page with content in a different language. The relevant language icon should be inserted in order to ensure better usability and smooth access to information.
It must be present on all pages. The language selection tool provides the only means of horizontal navigation between languages. It also provides an indication of which language versions exist.
The translations in the templates are official and mandatory.