Join Diane Burns for an in-depth discussion in this video Typesetting Chinese, part of InDesign: Multilingual Publishing Strategies.
It's been interesting to see the increase in requests for designers and other creative professionals to create documents that include Chinese text. As the Chinese economy has flourished and become more interconnected within our own, it's becoming more and more common. Whether it's for small snippets of legal text or entire brochures or other marketing materials, the need to include Chinese text in our documents has gone far beyond restaurant menus at this point. It's not that difficult to include Chinese in your document, but there are definitely a few things you need to know. Chinese is very different from English in that it's not alphabetic at all, but consists of thousands of characters that represent sounds. And there are no word spaces at all.
Before you can get started typesetting Chinese, there is the issue of font selection. In order to choose a font, you need to know if the text is in simplified Chinese characters or traditional Chinese characters. Simplified Chinese is based on traditional Chinese, and was developed in the 20th century to make the language easier to write. You can sometimes tell them apart, simplify by the fact that simplified characters tend to have less strokes than their denser counterparts in traditional characters. Generally, if the audience for whatever it is you're producing is mainland China, you'll want to use simplified characters.
If the audience is in Taiwan or Hong Kong, usually traditional characters are used. A few fonts have both these character sets in them, and you can actually control which one is used by virtue of the language dictionary that you set. But usually, you'll want to choose a font that has one set of characters or the other, either simplified or traditional. Remember, the Chinese fonts are on your InDesign menu, all the way down at the bottom. So, as we scroll down, we'll see that underneath Japanese fonts, we have traditional Chinese fonts.
Following that, we have simplified Chinese fonts. Both Mac OS and Windows install some Chinese fonts for you, as does the Creative Suite as well as Microsoft Office. The Adobe Creative Suite fonts are really nice because they are cross-platform; they work on both Mac and Windows. Here, we have on our screen a list of all the fonts that come either from Adobe or the Sim family is from Microsoft Office, and these fonts can be used on both Mac and Windows. You see that we have some different styles, and we have a few weights, but nothing nearly as much as we're used to in Roman fonts.
When it comes to traditional Chinese characters, we have even less of a selection. We basically have one cross- platform heavyweight and one lightweight. This is very limited of course. And if you have a document that needs a lot of different styles, frankly, you're probably going to have to look to purchase a third-party font. Taking a look back at our brochure, the good thing about Chinese is that it has the same language direction as English. Most Chinese that you'll be asked to typeset runs horizontally left to right.
Chinese can be typeset vertically, in which case it runs right to left and top to bottom, but this is usually for more traditional or formal publications, or you may see it in newspapers or novels. But for the kinds of things that we'll be asked to typeset in the United States, or even in Western Europe, we're usually going to be using text that's horizontal. If we look at our brochure, we'll see that the pagination is identical to English. And even though we have Chinese text throughout, the left and right pages are the same, and so are the text frame story directions.
We have an in port and an out port, just like in English. However, when it comes to typesetting Chinese text itself, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. If you just have a word or two, or a phrase, you really have no problems typesetting it in the North American version of InDesign. But if you have any more text than that, if you have paragraphs of text, there are some other issues that come into play. On the left here, we have a paragraph that was formatted in plain-old InDesign without any special composers or anything else.
On the right, we have a paragraph that was created in the Chinese version of InDesign. It includes a special paragraph composer called the Japanese Composer. And even though it's called Japanese, it's used for Chinese. But it also has two other elements that are really important for typesetting Chinese and Japanese, for that matter. One is something called in Japanese, Kinsoku, or line break rules. There are no wordbases, but there are rules about which characters can start a line. And Mojikumi is spacing rules. What is the spacing between punctuation and the adjacent character? If you compare these two paragraphs carefully, you'll see that all of the characters on the left are correct, and they can certainly be read by anyone who can read Chinese.
If you're producing a document that this text is not that important in--let's say you're producing a warranty booklet or software licensing agreement that's in 4-point type and it's something that people are going to throw away-- This might be just fine. But if you're producing something where you really care about the typography and want it to look nice, this is much better. And here's why. If we look on the left, you'll notice that we have gaps: here and here. Whereas, if you look on the example that was done in the Chinese version of InDesign, you'll see that we have a nice neat block where the characters and the punctuations are perfectly flush right.
This is much, much better. It's very easy to bring this information into your document. All you need to do is to load a paragraph style that comes from an Asian version of InDesign. It's not that hard to do, and we'll talk about, later in this course, how to use a template to do just that. In the meantime, if you're doing something simple and you don't want to bring in the extra composer, you can get away with this kind of text, but at the very least, try to have a person who speaks the language take a look at it and make sure there are no glaring errors.
One other trick that I want to show you has to do with this Roman text. Every Chinese font has Roman characters in it, and you may or may not like the way they look. Or you may need to use a corporate font instead of the font that's used by this particular Chinese font. Well, there's a very easy way to fix that. Let me go into Normal mode here, and what we're going to do is use a GREP style to fix that. Over on the pasteboard, I have the GREP expression that we need to do this. This is an expression that says take all of the numbers and the lower- and upper- case letters, and we're going to apply a character style with them.
I'll go into this text on the right and we'll modify this style. I'll create a new GREP style, and we'll make a new character style. Let's say just for contrast, we want to make the Roman characters Minion, so we'll call this Minion. And then we'll apply it to the text in our GREP expression. When I click OK, you can see that the Roman text is changed. So that's pretty easy to accommodate. This is in place of a feature that's in the Asian versions of InDesign called Composite Fonts.
But we can sort of fake it with GREP styles. Taking a look back at our brochure, which as I mentioned was created in the Chinese version of InDesign, the nice thing is is that we can open any documents with Asian features in them and nothing gets changed. Furthermore, we can continue to design this document, change the images, change the fonts, and so forth, and we have, already within the document, the composition tools we need to typeset the Chinese text correctly. Including Chinese text in your documents isn't that difficult, whether it's simplified or traditional. But you do need to remember to use the right fonts and bring in the necessary paragraph composer from a template file or plugin when necessary.
- Topics include:
- Exploring fonts and character sets
- Working with language dictionaries
- Changing language direction
- Typesetting different languages
- Installing scripts and templates for Middle Eastern, Chinese, and Japanese languages
- Understanding the importance of translation
- Choosing the right workflow
- Working with one or more languages in a single file
- Using an XML workflow
- Creating PDFs
- Setting up a Digital Publishing Suite tablet app
- Publishing to EPUB