How is image localization managed in DITA projects?

Image localization in DITA projects involves adapting images to different languages and cultures while maintaining the integrity of the content. This process ensures that images containing text, labels, or culturally specific elements are presented appropriately to the target audience. Techniques for image localization may include creating language-specific versions of images, using image overlays or alternative images, or dynamically rendering text within images based on the selected language. Image localization enhances the user experience by making visual content more relevant and understandable to diverse audiences.

Localization Strategies

In DITA projects, localization is a critical aspect of content adaptation for diverse audiences. This extends to the localization of images. When dealing with images, several strategies can be used, including creating language-specific images, using image overlays, dynamic text rendering, and alternative text and descriptions.

  • Creating Language-Specific Images: In cases where images contain text, labels, or culturally specific elements, organizations may create language-specific versions of images. For example, a screenshot displaying English text might be replaced with a screenshot containing text in a different language. These images are then associated with DITA topics based on the target language.
  • Using Image Overlays: Instead of entirely replacing images, overlays can be added to existing images to display translated text. This approach is common for diagrams or images with labels. A transparent overlay with translated text is placed on top of the original image, allowing the core image to remain the same while adapting the textual content.
  • Dynamic Text Rendering: Some content management systems or publishing platforms can dynamically render text within images based on the selected language. This method reduces the need for maintaining multiple image versions. It involves embedding variable placeholders within images, which are replaced with appropriate text during rendering.
  • Alternative Texts and Descriptions: DITA provides a means to attach alternative text and descriptions to images using attributes like alt and longdesc. This is crucial for accessibility, as it ensures that individuals using screen readers receive descriptions of images, making content more inclusive and adhering to accessibility standards.


A multinational electronics company uses DITA for its product documentation. The company’s user manuals include images of the product’s control panel, which contains text labels. To localize these images, the technical writing team creates language-specific versions of the control panel images.

The English version shows labels in English, while the French version displays labels in French. DITA maps are used to associate the correct images with the respective language versions of the documentation. When the user selects their preferred language, the system presents the corresponding images, ensuring that users can understand the control panel labels in their chosen language, enhancing the user experience for a global audience.