How to convert your files
Meeting client’s expectations and facing the challenges connected with processing non-editable files
Vast majority of documents submitted for translation is saved as .docx files, enabling translators easy access and processing of such texts. There are, however, orders that are far more challenging and require comprehensive preparation before the translation process, as well as thorough layout editing afterwards. Problems like these are usually encountered when translation agency or freelance translator receive a non-editable file; in such files the text cannot be substituted in any way. Things are even more complicated when graphic design is of paramount importance – sometimes the layout imposes significant limitations on character count or word length. Given the fact that we cannot effortlessly move the elements of a project and add text wherever we wish, non-editable files require longer lead time and careful selection of specialists involved in a given project.
The process of working with non-editable files: from quote to timely delivery
The first person to usually deal with such files is a project manager, who is responsible for preparing a quote. Cost estimates are usually based on character or word count, requiring the access to precise numbers. In case of Word files, things are easy; program features allow the user to check it in a blink. Non-editable files have to be converted in order to obtain a reliable quote, not only a rough estimate. It is, therefore, project manager’s responsibility to prepare a file in a desired format and ensure that it perfectly mirrors the source text. Specialists usually resort to various OCR-based technologies in order to receive quick and relatively fine conversion results. Converted files are later sent to translators: language specialists usually agree to deliver their services provided there is an editable file that they can work on. In case of short texts presented within a simple graphic layout, majority of them agree to rewrite the text themselves. The more complex elements there are, however, the less likely they are to be enthusiastic about the sheer amount of work that comes with such translation… apart from language service itself. Non-editable files are also challenging for proofreaders, since adding comments might be not possible for text box or graphic elements containing words. At every stage of translation process, it should be remembered that a client most likely wants to receive the file in precisely the same shape they have sent it in the first place.
Making the impossible seem easy – editing non-editable files
The abundance of online conversion tools and file conversion software might suggest that nothing could go awry with such things; this seemingly easy task, however, proves to be painstakingly hard. All of these tools use the OCR (optical character recognition) technology, which usually is of much help when it comes to high-quality text documents, containing little to no extra elements, such as charts, tables or illustrations. The more complex the document, the more likely it is that we will have to deal with some unforeseen problems. Manuals constitute the most prominent group among documents submitted for technical translation; these are also often sent as poor quality scans, causing further problems. In general, OCR technology allows us to obtain large amounts of text from a non-editable file. As we investigate the matter closer, however, we can notice the imperfections. Numbers tend to be mistaken for letters (such as “I” and “1”), random characters might appear instead of illegible letters or digits, some elements might be transformed into text box and moved from their initial position. Neither of these is desired, as it demands additional work, lengthens lead time and increases service cost.
Stay ahead of the competition and offer your clients comprehensive language support
There are certain ways to prepare a decent file based on a non-editable document without relying on modern technology; these, however, are usually time-consuming and will hinder your company from standing out on the market. Currently clients seek reliable business partners that they can count on in every aspect of translation services, including flawless handling of various file formats. In such a case as an owner of a translation agency or a freelance translator, a specialist should always research the possible conversion tools; check free trials before purchasing a license to use a feature-rich software that might turn out to be completely ineffective. Last but not least, do not forget that while preparing a professional quote of a non-editable file, finances are important – but so is your client’s time. Knowing the virtue of timely task execution in business, draw up a precise lead time estimate considering all of the steps involved in text preparation preceding the actual translation.