Language focus | 21.01.2011

Typesetting and printing Arabic documents – possible pitfalls

Arabic booksMost businesses wishing to extend their activities to the Middle East need to adapt their company literature to these markets. This will typically involve translation and typesetting of already existing brochures and manuals into Arabic, but because this language, as opposed to English, reads from right to left, one or two aspects have to be taken into consideration.

First of all, all pages in the document will have to be flipped, i.e. everything on the left-hand page of a two-page spread should be moved to the right-hand page, and vice versa. The result is that, whereas in an English document page two is on the left and page three on the right, in the Arabic document page two is on the right and page three on the left. This does not mean, however, that an Arabic document starts “at the back”, it only means that an Arabic document is bound on the right, whereas an English document is bound on the left. The front cover of a brochure in English is also the front cover of the same brochure in Arabic.

Secondly, it is also very important to follow this rule when it comes to printing, so that the Arabic document does not get printed with an “English” page sequence. An Arab person would be just as confused picking up a document in Arabic with page two on the left and page three on the right as an English person would be picking up a document in English with page two on the right and page three on the left. If this rule is not adhered to it could become very costly for the company as the brochures would have to be reprinted.

The Translation People is happy to advise on these issues, and our expert DTP team will ensure that your brochure is fit for the boardroom and not for the shredder.

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