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agencies that can't be bothered to do PDF word counts
Thread poster: Ken Fagan
Ken Fagan  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:26
French to English
Jun 16, 2007

This past week I was yet again the victim of an agency (headed by a highly experienced translator) who didn't do a serious word count of a PDF doc, thereby resulting in a LARGE under-estimate of words and putting me in a physically impossible position where I had to do too many words in too short a period to achieve my usual quality.

And they didn't even apologise!

I tried to run the doc in question through "Solid Converter", but SC said that the doc "wasn't a real PDF doc/was a scanned doc", which meant that there "wasn't any text" (and, therefore, no word count).

Q: Does anyone have a software solution for such scanned docs?


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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:26
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Abby FineReader Jun 16, 2007

I'm using Abby FineReader for scanned documents, and it does the job. It seems that it is used by a lot of colleagues here, too.

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 00:26
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
OCR Jun 16, 2007

You need ocr-software for this kind of documents. Many printer/scanners come with bundled ocr-software, but for serious work I would use Abbyy Finereader, which is pretty much a standard among freelancers nowadays.
Not only can you convert the scanned images or normal pdfs to Word-compatible editable and countable formats, but at the same time you can translate the resulting file using normal CAT-tools.
But even if the aforesaid is true, it still is a nuisance if we freelancers have to convert these documents in order to get an estimate for a job that probably will not realise.
Good agencies do the conversion themselves or require editable documents from the customer. Conversion should only be second choice. But there are documents that are not available at all in editable format, e.g. patents.

Cheers
Heinrich


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Ken Fagan  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:26
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
need scanner? Jun 16, 2007

Thanks very much for your reply, Heinrich (and congrats on your excellent English!).

Pls excuse this silly question: do I need a scanner, or will the AF do everything I need?


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Peter Adolph
Local time: 23:26
Member (2006)
English to Danish
+ ...
FineReader will do it! Jun 16, 2007

Hi Ken

As efreitag and Heinrich say, FineReader is what you need. You don't need a scanner if you receive the PDF from the client. The only reason to have a scanner is if you need to scan hardcopies yourself.

But, be aware that you can't rely blindly on FineReader: Depending on the quality of the scan, you will most likely find small spelling mistakes and the like which you will need to correct before starting the work.

Hope this helps a little.


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Ken Fagan  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:26
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Jun 16, 2007

thanks, Peter!

My main goal is to get very quick, very accurate (at least 95% accurate) word counts. It'd be nice to get near-perfect Word docs that I could work in, but my main purpose = word counts.


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Peter Adolph
Local time: 23:26
Member (2006)
English to Danish
+ ...
... and by the way Jun 16, 2007

Of course the agency should come up with a proper calculation to you, but in my opinion translators also have the obligation on their side to check the word count before starting the work to make sure that they agree with the scope of the job.

I run a company, and I use FineReader on such documents to make a word count before contacting the vendor companies I use. But this being said, it still happens that I make mistakes, and I count on my partners to tell me if I have made a mistake.

So, I would advice you to check the word count as a standard procedure before starting any jobs. That way you will avoid the situation that you just described.


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:26
French to English
+ ...
other option + control Jun 16, 2007

The other thing one can do to validate scanned PDF word counts is to accept the number as an "estimate" and to agree to base the invoice on target words, adjusted if need with the usual variants in the language pair concerned. Several agencies I work with proceed this way and I appreciate that.

Have a good week-end

Patricia


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Ken Fagan  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:26
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
mistakes Jun 16, 2007

Q: If you use FineReader, how is it that you "still make mistakes"? Isn't FR 100% reliable?

One would think that, with my looks, the agency would count every word manually:)


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Ken Fagan  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:26
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
hi Jun 16, 2007

Hi Patricia,

The point is not money (I made a lot): the point is being put in an impossible situation of having to translate too many words in too short a period.

For example, in my case, the job was assigned to me on Wed evening for delivery Friday noon. When I realised that there were too many words to translate at my usual quality level, I contacted the agency immediately to:

1) tell them about their under-estimate, and

2) tell them that I had a tonne of work for the WE (i.e. now...), due Monday pm, but could continue to work on it on Tuesday. Unfortunately, this was unacceptable to the final client.


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 23:26
English to German
+ ...
FR is just a program that runs specific logic Jun 16, 2007

Ken Fagan wrote:

Q: If you use FineReader, how is it that you "still make mistakes"? Isn't FR 100% reliable?

One would think that, with my looks, the agency would count every word manually:)
and leaves out certain things that may not fit. So I think you may have to do manual editing after the OCR process. Normally this is a percentile that is capped on the quoted price. That was actually meant I guess. Brandis


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jmadsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:26
The reliability of FineReader Jun 16, 2007

Ken Fagan wrote:
Q: If you use FineReader, how is it that you "still make mistakes"? Isn't FR 100% reliable?


I have used FineReader for some years now and I am very happy with it.

But the reliability of FR depends on the quality and layout of the PDF and how you use the program. FR is good at bad quality PDFs, but sometimes the quality may be so low that even FR reads words wrong. But in my experience the error margin is extremely low. However not 100% reliable. Perhaps at least 99.9%. Good enough for me.

You can make FR just scan the PDF and have it determine by itself how to read the various sections, but if you want a more accurate scan, you can mark the sections yourself indicating what is text, illustrations and tables. Text inside illustrations can also be marked as text (saved as text boxes in the resulting Word document). You can also leave out unwanted text from the scan.

After you have scanned the text, FR can check the text strings that it is uncertain of how to interpret. A most recommended feature, btw.


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Martin Wenzel
Germany
Local time: 23:26
English to German
+ ...
You should include a stress-factor charge....but call it something else Jun 16, 2007

I emphatize Ken, it is really the additional stress we hadn't bargained form, which will turn our hair grey eventually.

Even if I am going off here on a tangent...I believe we need to be very creative these days to curb the cheeky agencies...

Being a project manager, on the other hand is not a job to aspire to...

I once asked a very good client of mine not to send faxes at 3 a.m. because my fax machine used to stand right next to my bed...

They argued that they were a big company with hundreds of faxes every day, so they needed to economize on phone/fax fees...

I repeated my request 3 times, but faxes kept coming in the middle of the night.

Eventually, I included the hours I couldn't sleep after their fax had arrived in their bill, and after all the money they saved was paying for this...

Think of a creative way of including extra charges in their bill.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:26
Dutch to English
+ ...
Victim? Jun 16, 2007

Ken Fagan wrote:

This past week I was yet again the victim of an agency (headed by a highly experienced translator) who didn't do a serious word count of a PDF doc, thereby resulting in a LARGE under-estimate of words and putting me in a physically impossible position where I had to do too many words in too short a period to achieve my usual quality.



Hi Ken (or should I say Mr Clooney's clone?)

Not being rude, but "victim" is a tad of an exaggeration here, don't you think?

Surely after 16 years in the trade, you've learned to gauge pretty accurately and immediately on receipt of a document how many words are involved or how long it would take to translate?

Or did you accept the agency's word blindly and not see the document before final acceptance?













[Edited at 2007-06-16 12:21]


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Which word count do you mean? Jun 16, 2007

Ken Fagan wrote:
...to get very quick, very accurate (at least 95% accurate) word counts...


The word counts of Word, Trados (which version?), DVX, Anycount, Wordfast etc. mostly differ much more than 5%, because their counting algorithms are secret.

So when a client's announced word count differs from my analysis in a range of +/- 20%, I would not even wonder about the possible causes..


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