Managing Translated Text Length

19 Oct 2006 - 10:29am
7 years ago
2 replies
572 reads
Chris Stygar
2006

All,

We are working on a project for an embedded system GUI that will be
translated into several languages. We have designed the layout around a
set of US English text strings that will be presented in a proportional
(non-fixed width) fonts. We did our best to allow for expansion when the
strings are translated, however there a still several instances where
there will only be a finite amount of space to fit a translated string.

We are ready to submit our string table for translation by our client
and they have requested that we provide them with a 'field size limit'
for each string so that they can give their translation house a target
character length to achieve. Because we are using a proportional font,
we can only provide them with an approximate character count that
assumes an average character width. We are concerned that we will still
get situations where we will need to truncate a translated string even
if they have met the 'size limit' simply because that translation had a
lot of wide characters.

Does anyone have any reliable strategies for managing translated string
lengths that will minimize the chance of forced truncations?

Thanks,

Chris

Chris Stygar, IDSA
Product Developer
Design Manager
Daedalus Excel

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Comments

19 Oct 2006 - 3:37pm
Barbara Ballard
2005

On 10/19/06, Chris Stygar <cstygar at daed.com> wrote:
>
> We are working on a project for an embedded system GUI that will be
> translated into several languages. We have designed the layout around a
> set of US English text strings that will be presented in a proportional
> (non-fixed width) fonts. We did our best to allow for expansion when the
> strings are translated, however there a still several instances where
> there will only be a finite amount of space to fit a translated string.
>
>
> Does anyone have any reliable strategies for managing translated string
> lengths that will minimize the chance of forced truncations?
>

I would make a table of character widths in the font, then create a
little program or spreadsheet to calculate the width of an arbitrary
string, then give the target pixel count to the translators along with
the program or spreadsheet.

Of course, in some mobile design you don't know the character width
since you are using the native font on the device. This strategy
won't work there.

Depending on the platform you are using, you can use some
platform-native strategies. Java ME, for example, lets you specify
minimum and preferred size for fields in a Form.

Finally, you can simply give a best guess for string length, in
typical-width characters, and ask for an abbreviation for any string
that exceeds something like 5 characters fewer than that.

--
Barbara Ballard
barbara at littlespringsdesign.com 1-785-550-3650

19 Oct 2006 - 3:42pm
Mark Schraad
2006

Barbara has outlined a good strategy for display - but the first thing I woudl do is to get the translation done and checked. English is pretty efficient in terms of character count. Don't plan on the translationbeing the same- in my expereince they are most often longer.

Mark

On Thursday, October 19, 2006, at 04:38PM, Barbara Ballard <barbara at littlespringsdesign.com> wrote:

>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>On 10/19/06, Chris Stygar <cstygar at daed.com> wrote:
>>
>> We are working on a project for an embedded system GUI that will be
>> translated into several languages. We have designed the layout around a
>> set of US English text strings that will be presented in a proportional
>> (non-fixed width) fonts. We did our best to allow for expansion when the
>> strings are translated, however there a still several instances where
>> there will only be a finite amount of space to fit a translated string.
>>
>>
>> Does anyone have any reliable strategies for managing translated string
>> lengths that will minimize the chance of forced truncations?
>>
>
>I would make a table of character widths in the font, then create a
>little program or spreadsheet to calculate the width of an arbitrary
>string, then give the target pixel count to the translators along with
>the program or spreadsheet.
>
>Of course, in some mobile design you don't know the character width
>since you are using the native font on the device. This strategy
>won't work there.
>
>Depending on the platform you are using, you can use some
>platform-native strategies. Java ME, for example, lets you specify
>minimum and preferred size for fields in a Form.
>
>Finally, you can simply give a best guess for string length, in
>typical-width characters, and ask for an abbreviation for any string
>that exceeds something like 5 characters fewer than that.
>
>--
>Barbara Ballard
>barbara at littlespringsdesign.com 1-785-550-3650
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