How To Localize Your Storyline eLearning Courses

eLearning has become a booming industry already well established globally1 and is even showing a consistent rise within the developing nations2, opening up new market opportunities. And with the recent social restrictions enforced due to Covid-19, eLearning is invited to reinvent itself further and faster3. With languages such as Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, and even Indonesian gaining online significance rapidly4, eLearning Localization needs to become a staple in your market expansion strategy.

Articulate Storyline is a leading Authoring Tools for eLearning materials due to its ability to create complex interaction types, a customizable application interface similar to that of PowerPoint, and collaboration functionality. If you are looking to create multilingual courses for various locales, we are here to provide a detailed overview of how Storyline eLearning Localization can reach its maximum global potential.

How To Create The Most Optimal eLearning Localization Environment

Before the Localization Process even begins, there are several steps you can take during (and even before!) the development phase that will help streamline the whole process. Let us share some tips and tricks on how you can create an intuitive Storyline User Interface (UI) that remains learner-friendly regardless of the language.

  • Allow for textual contractions and expansions. Some languages result in more verbose phrasing than others. So you need to pay extra attention to the potential impact the shifts in size can have on your eLearning content, especially when it comes to the interactive elements. We recommend that you prepare for an average change in text size of 35%.
  • Estimate the scope of your project by identifying all the types of content that will need translating, including images with or without text, audio and transcripts, videos, fonts, and so on. Also, estimate the onscreen text word count and, if it applies, the audio word count.
  • Storyline is an ideal Authoring Tool for complex interactions and custom content branding. This quality can be maximized with the creation of a Glossary and Style Guide so linguistic rules and preferences can be integrated.
  • Keep your content as neutral as possible and avoid the use of colorful, language-specific expressions if they would complicate the translation process or it wouldnt have the same expressive quality in the target language.

The Storyline eLearning Localization Process

eLearning Localization combines translation with cultural adaptation and only leverages specific localization technology. Ideally, your eLearning Content will run through the main translation phases of translation, editing, and proofreading (TEP), all molded and tweaked according to the linguistic and cultural targets.

Pro Tip! Are you sure you understand the difference between Editing and Proofreading? Have a look at our blog detailing the responsibilities of editors and proofreaders, and know exactly which services to request!

The Four Main Steps Involved In The Translation Process

Step One: Exporting the content in XLIFF (XML-based file format). This is a translation-friendly file-format and it is commonly accepted by almost all translation CAT-tools.

Step Two: Preparing the files for translation. While it depends on the CAT tool you will be using, you should run what is called “Regular expressionâ€. This will detect the codes and untranslatable text involved in the exported XLIFF files and lock them so the translators will not be able to edit them during the translation process. Note that any changes in the XLIFF codes may result in several bugs later, not to mention some importing issues.

Tip: You may have translators who don’t use CAT Tools and just want to assign them to manage the translation in a regular document format. Although this isn’t recommended, it is feasible to ask your translation vendor to import prepared content for you in .rtf (tabular format source text vs. target text) format which can be accessed through Microsoft Office and Google Docs.

Step Three: Import the translated files back. First you would need to import the translation back from the translation (CAT) tool to the XLIFF format and then import the translated XLIFF back to Articulate Storyline.

Step Four: Perform the formatting and Linguistic QA. Some of the most common mistakes occur when you perform a linguistic review on the formatted materials. This will result in more feedback implementation rounds, and unfortunately, if the changes are too many, you may end up having to redo the formatting work. So, you should probably consider performing your internal linguistic review and make any linguistic changes on the bilingual files prior to exporting them to Storyline. The objective of the final QA should be to make sure that the translation has been inserted correctly and displayed properly after the formatting.

Crucial Tips For Quality Assurance In The Storyline eLearning Localization

The ideal Localization Process inserts various stages of Quality Insurance that combines the specialized skill-sets of experts in different fields. Some crucial tips to keep in mind:

  • Hire professional, native translators and voice-over artists/actors exclusively
  • Select a highly experienced linguistic reviewer with specialized knowledge in the subject matter to validate the translation
  • Pay extra attention to only to linguistics, but also cultural and formatting review. For this, use professional Desktop publishing (DTP)Experts, Localization Engineers, and linguists native and residing in the target locale

Perform extensive testing including pre-live testing with specific localized audiences

Multimedia Localization: How To Use It To Your Advantage

Multimedia is an integral part of an eLearning Platform’s ability to exploit effective learning strategies and engage an audience with different learning speeds. This comes into full effect by, for example, using the power of repetition through various applications and enabling micro-learning opportunities by making complex information more easily digestible.
In localization terms, this means that services such as voice-overs, Closed Captions (CC), subtitles, and so on, will also need to be carefully translated and adapted to local tendencies and sensitivities. For this, we highly recommend that you connect with a reliable and experienced Language Service Provider (LSP) with a proven background in Multimedia Localization and in-depth knowledge of your target locales. Because in the right hands, Multimedia Localization can be a powerful tool through which your eLearning content can spark global engagement. In the wrong hands? Well, lets consider the following

What Are Your Visual Features Saying To Others?

While the cultural nuances of the textual content may have crossed your mind already, some of the more subtle (yet arguably more crucial) visual faux-pas might just slip an untrained mind, such as:

  • Gestures in videos and icons: Videos are a powerful eLearning Tool and many programs make use of them. While animated videos are an important feature, the use of a virtual teacher, narrator, animated or real, is a preferred method for some. The point of a virtual teacher is that they interact with you in a personal and engaging manner. So, make sure you consider the subconscious use of gestures and what they could communicate to your users. These can be as subtle as hand movements, eye contact, and even posture.
  • Colors: Something as seemingly simple as a color, can conjure varying emotions and reactions depending on cultural background. Yellow, for example, holds bright and cheerful connotations in most western countries. But in many Latin American cultures, for example, yellow is associated with grief and mourning.
  • Mimic home environments and local laws/habits: Let’s suppose you are localizing an eLearning course for a delivery service for an Indian audience. Along with the more obvious adjustments such as using images and backgrounds that reflect their own cities, Mumbai being a popular choice, on the other hand, take into account the local driving habits, laws, and health and safety regulations in the workplace.

The Importance Of Using DTP-Experts

DTP-Experts are an invaluable asset when the presentation and formatting of your visual features is as important as the content itself. And this is most certainly the case for eLearning. While highly trained in respecting the detail and visual potency of a product, DTP-Professionals also know how to address cultural variances that will uphold the visual integrity of your eLearning material in the global market.

This includes:

  • Selecting the right font for the right language. There is no universal font that supports all languages. It is important to consider diacritical marks, style, height, but also local preferences when determining which font type would suit which language.
  • Offering recommendations for best practices on the impact of your graphical layout in the context of country-specific standards.
  • Being particularly helpful when it comes to formatting complex languages and characters. This includes fixing common Storyline formatting issues: The most common formatting issues with Storyline-localized material are related to supported languages. English speakers, as you know, read left to right (LTR) while other languages like Arabic, Hebrew, or Farsi are read right to left (RTL). Asian languages such as Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, are read in columns, top to bottom. While Storyline does support these, it hasn’t prevented the need for the expert intervention of DTP-Professionals, although there are some regex that you could use to fix the bi-di or bidirectional issues, those can’t be applied globally and that’s why you need professional formatting specialists who have some understanding of the target languages to apply those properly and in the case of complicated errors that require more extensive coding skills to fix the XLIFF (XML-based) localized files by the Localization Engineers.


Storyline eLearning Localization is a complex endeavor that combines expertise across various fields. With accurate cultural references and linguistic consistency being top priorities, we recommend that you use our guide in how to maximize the Localization Process during the development stage but connect with an experienced and specialized LSP to help you gain international engagement with your product.

At Laoret, we possess the technological and linguistic authority to successfully localize your Storyline eLearning Course including its Multimedia applications. As a company committed to the notion of constant innovation and Localization Solutions offered only by the most experienced professionals, we boast native, in-country translators, specialized localization engineers, and a highly committed DTP-Team.

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