Dual language stationery

Anthony Noel's picture

Hi all,

Has anyone out got any tips or seen any good examples of dual language stationery, especially as applies to the mandatory small print we have so much of in the UK?

I've attached a couple of pdfs of my attempt. I'm happy with the address details but organising the small print at the base is proving a bit clunky.


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fractal's picture

I have used an italic for a second language in the past. I'm not sure if that is a no-no but it does delineate.

Another option you have when using two colours as you are, is to treat one language or the other with the second colour. Perhaps a 70-80% of that blue would bring it down to the same intensity of the grey?

(wish we used A4 sheets here)


timd's picture

I suggest using the same number of lines for each block for The members of… You could also put those back to back right ranging the one on the left in the centre with the limited liability text on either side so you get an almost symetrical appearance at the bottom of the page, with all aligned at the bottom rather than top. Couple of words taken over could improve the look at, ag and gyfreithwyr. Also why are the Welsh details first at the top and second at the bottom and the righthand block looks to be a touch lower than the other three.


Miss Tiffany's picture

Is the use of color an option? I am not sure I would use italic for one and roman the other. It seems to me that both languages are important. Unless you can convey equal importance, using italic or a second color can make one seem of less import. Maybe I'm exaggerating.

If there are two colors associated with the company I would opt for color. IMHO.

I wondered the same thing as Tim. The order should be the same at the top and bottom. However, I prefer them lining as you have them now. Creates a nice baseline for the content of the letter.

pstanley's picture

I would steer clear both of colour and italics. There's no functional reason to draw attention to the differences between the languages. No-one's going to think: "I wonder which one is Welsh? I know, it must be the green/italic one." What matters most is to remember (1) that the letterhead is not seen alone, but always with some text on it; (2) that the other text is always more important than the stuff on the letterhead; and therefore (3) that too much busyness in the letterhead will be a problem. What people do look for in the letterhead is information when they need it, and from that point of view a logical structure is useful.

Have you considered:

(A) Definitely be consistent in placement left/right top/bottom.

(B) Personally, I'd put the DX numbers either with the address or on their own. I'd keep fax, telephone and email all together. One logically separates "document" communication from electronic/voice communication.

(C) How is this going to work with Direct Dial telephone numbers and direct emails? It's bound to get used that way: someone is going to type on DDI and personal email addresses. Give some thought to where those will go, and how they will relate to the general email and telephone information you have pre-printed.

(D) Are you sure you have all the stuff in the small print you need? It would be pretty usual to have something saying that they will not accept service by email. You might want to check whether they need that.

(E) Has the time come to abandon the E. and W. by the email and web addresses? All of us can recognise an email or a web address simply by its format. The use of E. and W. seems to me to be simply to produce symmetry with T. and F. But is it necessary? If not, it's clutter.

(F) Going back to the idea that the letterhead is only half the story (you have to imagine it with a letter on it), how will the margins look on this? A typed letter is bound to have (and should have) much wider margins than the edge you are implicitly marking. How will that look?


crossgrove's picture

Generally I agree with Paul, except for one point: There is a functional reason to differentiate the two languages. The issue isn't that English and Welsh look the same; it's that anyone wanting to read the form or document deserves to have the text, in their language, made available in a clear sequence. For anyone reading English, it's a bother and confusing to scan over Welsh to locate the next English bit, and I imagine, vice versa. Should everyone reading the document be forced to read the same info in 2 languages in order to find what they want?

When designing multilingual forms or documents, one can assume the readers want to follow the information in one language, not hop between two or more languages (even if they are capable of hopping). In this case, bold or colored text for Welsh (or English) essentially offers any reader an immediate choice of paths; they can choose either, and either is equally readable, but they run in parallel and are not confused easily. Multilingual documents that differentiate between languages visually are easier to navigate.

In a similar vein, maintaining consistent order (Welsh left, English right) is another useful way to make the various language paths clear.

There may be an issue with implying some heirarchy with font styles, but a robust type family, or an application of color should fix that. Then again, there may actually be a hierarchy; if the majority of readers are Welsh, then that is more important.

hrant's picture

> There’s no functional reason to draw attention
> to the differences between the languages.

Quite the contrary. You have an obligation to make them different.


Anthony Noel's picture

Thanks for all your advice.

As usual, this process has unfortunately been a rather reactive one, as I expect you might have experienced yourselves. The welsh office didn't get involved in the design process untill recently, and the IT guys didn't think to stick their oar in until yesterday. So issues of extra languages and fitting the design around an existing template appear after the work has been signed off..

I need to consider how to maintain consistency with their other english speaking offices' stationery, so the use of the w. & e. need to stay, but I do agree with you Paul. On a previous version the contact details stacked vertically and the prefix made sense for the alignment. The format stuck. The DX numbers have also stayed where they are as that is the convention on the other items.

As for differentiating using bold/italic/tint/colour, surely that convention would also need to apply to the address and contacts at the top which is actually hybrid, rather than parallel, ie two addresses that share phone numbers etc. I may have to resort to a key line between the two languages, much as I hate to say it..

Good interesting challenges, thanks for the help


Anthony Noel's picture

I know this doesn't really incorporate any of your suggestions, but do you feel that a smaller point size and a larger gap, as well as sorting out the order of things, is enough? I can't really do different colours as I feel I would need to apply those colours to the address, and it's not clear whether just to differentiate the address details or to include the phone numbers as well.


btw anyone know why I can't attach a pdf to this reply?

crossgrove's picture

Well this is typography, isn't it. Try to find a solution without resorting to rules, boxes, tints, etc. You already have 2 colors (plus white) to work with, a font with 2 weights, and is there an italic? Not to mention font size.

Try more things; there are several variables here that should give you plenty of room to discover an elegant solution.

If grouping/separation issues are getting you down, talk to the users of the document; it's an editorial decision as well as a typographic one.

Anthony Noel's picture

The Welsh Language Board have published a guideline for designers which, although very specific to Welsh, does have enough broad principles for designers with similar issues in other language combinations:


Might be of interest..

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