Freelance Multi-Lingual Publishing

I have a great deal of experience and interest in multi-lingual publishing. I’ve also done a lot of ad and book typography as well, though there seems to be less contract work around for that. My philosophy in using DTP packages is to wield them intelligently by automating as many steps as possible and spending the time up front to set up a project correctly in the source language so that it doesn’t have to be fixed once for each target language. I’m not particularly interested in “cut and paste” DTP production, but rather in developing and executing intelligent workflows.

I’m a big believer in owning my own software, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because getting support under deadline can be impossible otherwise. After each application, I’ve listed the versions I own. I generally only buy versions when I have immediate reason to use them, and most of my clients tend to be a few versions behind the newest releases. However, I will cheerfully buy anything needed to produce a job quickly and accurately.

My background is actually as a typographer: I’ve been a typesetter since 1978, starting out on “green-screen” machines with 64K of memory, and then moving on to networked systems (I earned a good income in the mid-’80s as an ad typographer). I began working with desktop publishing in 1986 with Ventura Publisher 3.0. In short, I know the issues, and here’s what I can currently offer:

FrameMaker (Mac: 5, 6, 7; Windows: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 2015).

I consider myself an expert Frame user: I have done many books in it, and currently have responsibility for producing a 8 volume, 5000-page document set from Word manuscripts using FrameScript to automate Frame 2015 processes. I have have used Frame over the years to produce HTML (including localizing ASP templates using WebWorks), often in languages other than English

I understand Frame’s cross-referential and variable intricacies, the advantages of the book architecture, production of PDF and HTML/XML, and have done design implementation in it as well. I am also familiar with Structured Frame, and am quite conversant in using S-Tagger, Trados’ toolset for FrameMaker document localization.

InDesign (Mac ID2, CS2, CS3, CS5, CS6, CC).

I’ve used InDesign heavily, and am very impressed with its brilliance in both typography and multilingual layout. I’ve learned a great deal about automating workflows in it using tagged text, and have typeset nearly 100 books using automated routines. I can work quickly and efficiently in InDesign, and consider it my main publishing tool nowadays.

Quark (Mac 4, 5, 6.5, 7; Windows: 5).

I am a proficient Quark user, and have produced a number of books in it, as well as lots of localization production work while I worked for Lionbridge. I have written AppleScripts to extract data selectively from Quark, identifying translatables by applied style or text pattern, as well as automating layout with scripts.

Acrobat (Mac: 5, CS2, CS3, CS5, CS6, CC; Win: 6 through 11).

I have extensive experience with producing usable PDFs, as well as creating and manipulating bookmarks in many languages. I’m also quite familiar with using Acrobat’s commenting features as part of a proofreading/editing workflow.

BBEdit (Mac only).

I use this routinely for everything from writing HTML code to fixing binary files and generating XML through regular expressions. I am quite comfortable with scripting it.

Oxygen (Mac: version 8).

I use this for validation of XML and XHTML files, mainly for ebooks of various sorts.

Illustrator (Mac: 9, CS2, CS3, CS5, CS6, CC).

I’m adept at localization in Illustrator: editing files, moving and constructing leader lines, and so forth. I have done some scripting of it via AppleScript. I’m not a creative artist, however.

Photoshop (Mac: CS2, CS3, CS5, CS6, CC).

As with Illustrator, I have good basic localization skills, and can do low-level graphic manipulation (palette simplification, sharpening). I also have some experience adjusting photos for print (Brightness, grayscale adjustment, and contrast).

Word (Mac: X, 2004, 2006, 2011; Windows: 2000, 2007, 2010, 2016/365).

Am quite familiar with using Word, and know VBA/Word well. Having said this, I have never seen an instance where Word is an appropriate platform for doing DTP. It’s multilingual capabilities are good, though, and I’ve worked with several clients whose document set is exclusively in Word.


I taught myself enough LaTeX to do production work on several books when I worked for Addison Wesley. I’m in the process of learning about implementing designs in the package. I’ve done a few interesting things in LaTeX, including a large conversion to it from Word.

Web graphics:

I am experienced at localizing webpage graphical elements such as buttons and graphical dialogue boxes.

Web Authoring tools:

I understand the issues behind both RTF and HTML help, have troubleshot RoboHelp files, and have a very good knowledge of both RTF and HTML. Have customized XSLT files to manipulate XML code, and have solved many problems in web localization.

Other skills:

I majored in Classical Studies and have spent some time studying Russian. I’m quite comfortable entering edits in Cyrillic languages and Greek, and can do data entry in Pinyin for Simplified Chinese.

I also am skilled at format (not linguistic) proofreading, and have done technical illustration as well as a wide range of English-language text editing.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

You might also want to check my Localization Engineering page. Thanks!

Craig W. Johnson
(1) 415-282-1110 Landline
(1) 415-260-9453 Cell
115 Eugenia Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94110

Last updated: Thursday, January 29, 2018.