Can organizations translate image text and labels in DITA?

In DITA, organizations can translate image text and labels to cater to a global audience. This involves localizing the textual content within images by creating language-specific versions, using overlays, or dynamically rendering text. The goal is to ensure that images containing text are presented in the user’s preferred language, enhancing their understanding and user experience.

Translation Approaches

Translating image text and labels in DITA is essential for providing comprehensive multilingual documentation. Organizations can follow the approaches of creating language-specific versions, using image overlays, and dynamic text rendering.

  • Creating Language-Specific Versions: For images with embedded text, organizations can create distinct language-specific versions of these images. For example, if an image includes English labels, a separate version with labels in French is produced. DITA maps are used to link the correct image versions to the corresponding language variations of the documentation. Users selecting a particular language will be presented with images featuring text in their chosen language.
  • Using Image Overlays: Instead of generating entirely new images, overlays can be applied to existing images. A transparent overlay with translated text is added to the original image. This approach preserves the core image while adapting the textual content. Overlays are associated with specific languages in DITA maps, ensuring the correct overlay is displayed when users choose a language.
  • Dynamic Text Rendering: Some content management systems or publishing platforms are capable of dynamically rendering text within images. Variable placeholders are embedded within images, and during rendering, these placeholders are replaced with the appropriate text based on the chosen language. This method minimizes the need for maintaining multiple image versions and is particularly useful for images where labels frequently change.


A software company uses DITA for its user manuals. These manuals contain screenshots with user interface elements, including buttons and menus with labels. To cater to a global audience, the company creates language-specific versions of images containing text labels.

The English manual includes screenshots with labels in English, while the French manual features the same screenshots with labels in French. In the DITA map, each image is linked to the appropriate language version of the documentation. When a user selects their preferred language, the system displays images with text labels in the chosen language, ensuring clear and effective communication for users worldwide.