Tips to Get the Best English-French translation – Part II

Getting all the pieces together for your translation project

Optimising the File to Be Translated

In the first blog of this series, I started by giving tips to customers looking to get an English-French translation on how to collaborate with translators, starting with aspects related to planning and reference materials. Now the focus of the suggestions to optimise the process is in the source text that you will send to the translator.

Send the Final Version of the Source Text

Do everything in your power so that the source text sent to the translator is the final and revised version. If it is not possible, the least you should do is highlight the changes made after the first delivery. You can use a different colour font, a bookmark tool, or even a specific tool for revisions, such as the one that marks changes made in Word (“track changes”). In these cases, it is very common for the translator to charge for the extra work and, depending on the volume of the new text, the deadline should be changed.

What you should always avoid is that endless back-and-forth e-mail with multiple versions of the same source text, especially after the translator has started the work. This is the perfect recipe for wasting time and, most likely, money.

Send an Editable File

Translator translates. Simple, isn’t it? However, some people think they can send an image to a translator and get it back with everything just the same, but in another language. Well, this is perfectly feasible, but it is another service that your translator can offer or not. And not all translators offer it (I do). While some of us love desktop publishing and have fun formatting texts, making graphics, preparing tables, creating images … others are not very good at it, do not like it or just think it’s not worth investing in these extra activities and prefer to concentrate their efforts at what they do best: translate.

Type of Translatable Files

Most translators prefer to receive editable files. That being said, editable PDFs are acceptable, but not ideal. Sometimes it is even possible to copy the content of a given PDF and paste it into a word processor, but often the formatting is lost. This is especially true when the document does not contain just plain text.

The best kind of file you can send to a translator is in a format that can be edited and is also supported by the so-called “CAT tools” that your translator uses. A brief parenthesis is crucial here: CAT tools and, more specifically, translation memory software, are not the same thing as machine translation tools. Explained very simply and briefly, translation memories are files that store sentences/segments translated by the user. So when your translator comes across the same content or something similar, the software shows the sentences used previously, helping to maintain textual consistency. One of the advantages of these translation tools is that the formatting usually stays intact.

You Do Not Have an Editable File

In case you cannot send an editable file, the reactions vary from translator to translator. Before you begin work, the translator may ask you to send the material to another professional to make it into editable text. The translator can also choose to type the translated text into a simple file, without worrying about the final formatting. In that case, you will be responsible for accomplishing this task or hiring whoever does it. The translator can also offer the formatting (and charge for the extra work) or forward the text to a colleague who takes care of this task (which will charge its own fees).

Working with editable texts is also a way to reduce the margin of error.

To conclude, I would like to make it clear that collaborating with your translator does not just mean making their lives easier. Most important of all is that there are many things you can do in order to get the best product possible.

Concluding this first series of articles, the next blog will deal with the translation stage itself and what to do after receiving the translated text. Again, I’ll give you suggestions on how to get the most return on your translation projects.

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