Translate an Illustrator File

Adobe Illustrator is a powerful vector graphics creator, and is arguably the leading application of its type. Unlike InDesign, one of the frequently translated Adobe file types, Illustrator translation is less common.

Although it is primarily used for graphics creation, there are some occasions when Illustrator files can contain editable text (text labels in a chart, for example) and this text needs to be translated. Also, vectors themselves – if they make up words – may also need to be translated.

Translation of .ai files is a little more labour intensive than with other file types. Unfortunately there are no automated solutions with Illustrator as there are with InDesign. Translating .ai files usually involves extracting the text into a translation-friendly format, and then flowing translations back into the artwork when complete. It’s a manual process, but is tried and tested.

We’ve established that translating Adobe Illustrator and .ai files is achievable, so here are our top tips for making sure your Illustrator translation is successful: 

Include fonts

No doubt you’ll want your translations to be visually on-brand. Always supply the required fonts so that the translations perfectly match the look and feel of the original.

If your brand fonts do not contain the characters for the target language (which is more common than you might think!), a substitute font may need to be chosen.

Think about text embedded in images

Are there images in your files, and do they contain text that you want to have translated? To streamline the process and ensure nothing is missed, either supply the editable image files, or capture the text in another document. This way you can ensure it’s translated.

Translations are often longer than English

Translations from English into other languages often comes out longer. A French translation, for example, is around 20-25% longer than its English source. This may not be relevant to your project, but it’s good to be aware of it in case space is an issue.

Final is best

If your files are not yet final, or you think there might be some imminent changes, don’t send things for translation just yet. Additions, changes, or design edits once the process is underway will lead to delays and an increase in costs.

Inserting translations is harder than you might think

Your content has been translated and you’ve decided to update the file yourself. If you speak the target language fluently then you’ll probably be ok; but what if you don’t? 

It’s easy to assume to assume that different languages will follow the same structure as English, but this is rarely the case. Hyphenation, punctuation, binding and text direction, non-breaking spaces, and even how sentences flow from one line to the next; without speaking the language, how will you know all these details are correct? 

Our advice is to get someone who speaks the language to do it for you. This way you can be sure that your Illustrator assets are displaying exactly as they should: i.e. perfectly, from both a visual and a linguistic standpoint. 

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