TIPS AND TRICKS TO CLIENT(S)
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12 EASY RULES OF PREPARING DOCUMENTS FOR TRANSLATION
Translators have different needs than other specialists and professionals such as accountants or lawyers. A lot of our time is spent « correcting » and « arranging » rather than actually translating. Part of the problem stems from the fact that the person sending a document for translation does not necessarily know what is needed.
I hope this short Tips and Tricks will be helpful to you.
1. The easiest document to translate is straight from the computer. Nowadays, almost everything originates in computers, so send or ask for the original file, usually in a word processing format. (Spreadsheets –Excel, Lotus -and Power Point presentations are not specifically covered here, but the same rule applies). (Note these are for Windows/equipped computers). Most people will be very pleased to supply it and to let somebody else translate (and pay for the translation of) the document ;-)
2. If you can get the Word (or Word Perfect) file, saved in DOC or RTF format, that’s the best one to send – it’s also the easiest one to translate.
3. Sometimes the document is in PDF format. There are basically two types of PDF. One saves the text as text, and the other one saves it in a graphic format, often because it includes signatures or some type of drawings. The text one can be ‘cut and paste’ into a Word document. The graphic one cannot and is a lot less useful, because of that since it needs to be retyped before translation. If possible, use/send the first type, particularly since the translator does not need the signatures (those are not translated, obviously) or the graphics (rarely translated).
4. Note : PDF files can get to be quite big so it’s better to zip them before shipping. Use the Windows Zip features or Winzip and not some « better but unknown » zip program. This type of program may make it impossible to open at the other end.
5. If you must scan a document, particularly if it’s in French (or other language with accents) try to scan it with the proper language module (French, Spanish or others). You may need to install the proper module from your original scanner installation CD or to download it from the scanner’ manufacturer’s web site. If you don’t have and can’t have the proper software extension, it’s often better to scan it in graphic format. Each page must be done separately. This also means that the translator must retype all the text, but it is easier to do than with a bad text scan without accents.
6. Again, because this type of file can get to be quite big, it’s easier to zip it.
7. If you can’t scan it, but must fax it, verify whether it can be sent to a computer fax, as opposed to a stand-alone fax. This way, the computer fax software may be able to convert the document into text. If it cannot, we are back to using graphic pages.
8. Whether in the case of scanning or faxing, try to get the best, cleanest copy possible, even if it means photocopying it and using the photocopy rather than the « wrinkled » (and often dirtied) original for scanning and faxing.
9. Check with the translator or the translating agency that the format to be sent is the appropriate one for their needs. Sometimes, sending both the DOC file and the PDF/scanned/fax copy is useful so they check formatting features.
10. If possible, and if there is enough time, also send a printed version of the document to be translated.
11. When in doubt, send two formats or check with the translator beforehand – you’ll both save time.
12. Note that if you send documents from a Mac computer to a Windows computer, you may have accent problems, depending on your set up. So you want to do a test beforehand and avoid last minute emergencies.
In conclusion, the best formats, in order of preference for translators are :
1. Word or Word Perfect (DOC or RTF)
2. Text PDF
3. Scan with accents
4. Graphic PDF
5. Graphic scan
6. Fax to a computer
8. Printed copy.
© 2005 Georgette Blanchard, alias DocteurPC