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Tips for PDF translation
Thread poster: Mauricio Coitiño

Mauricio Coitiño  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 19:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mar 24, 2009

Under this topic I'd like to include all those "tricks" we've learned while dealing with one of the most popular formats in DTP projects - PDF, aka "Portable Document Format". Do you know any?

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Roberta Anderson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:01
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Trick #1 - Ask for source files Mar 24, 2009

As PDF is a final output format and not a working format, Trick or rather Rule #1 when receiving PDF files for translation (unless the client is happy with a translation in plain text format) is to ask for the original files from where the PDF was generated (InDesign, QXPress, whatever).
They *do* exist by nature, and usually when you communicate the time and cost to recreate a layout from scratch, they do magically appear


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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:01
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Trick #2 Ask for source files Mar 24, 2009

Roberta Anderson wrote:

As PDF is a final output format and not a working format, Trick or rather Rule #1 when receiving PDF files for translation (unless the client is happy with a translation in plain text format) is to ask for the original files from where the PDF was generated (InDesign, QXPress, whatever).
They *do* exist by nature, and usually when you communicate the time and cost to recreate a layout from scratch, they do magically appear


If source files are not available charge 200% surcharge and agree to deliver unformatted translated Word files.



[Edited at 2009-03-24 15:12 GMT]


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Gianni Pastore  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:01
Member (2007)
English to Italian
Trick # 3: If source files are not available Mar 24, 2009

Ask for a 200% surcharge but don't deliver in Word/text format. Instead, buy this:

http://www.iceni.com/infix.htm

Not expensive and a great tool! (Thanks Robi!)

Gianni


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trebla
Canada
Local time: 17:01
French to English
PDF processing Mar 24, 2009

I used to hate getting PDFs, and I agree there should be a surcharge for them, but I bought an inexpensive software from Nuance (PDF Converter Assistant), and it works well most of the time.

Simply drag the PDF filename into the Assistant, and it will convert the file to Word.

If the original file was of good quality, you get a good result that you can type over with your translation. If the original file was not so good, you can sometimes print it out and scan it as a rich text file for later cleanup.

Sometimes the PDF conversion has all the text converted, but you get those huge black formatting blocks (I don't know what they are) under the text that make it hard if not impossible to edit.

In these cases, I remove ALL the formatting by blocking the text on and hitting CTRL/SHIFT/N. Then I can manually re-formant to match the original.


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Lutz Molderings  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:01
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
PDF Converter Assistant Mar 24, 2009

...I bought an inexpensive software from Nuance (PDF Converter Assistant), and it works well most of the time.


I also use this piece of software. Works quite well for me.


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Maria Popova  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 00:01
Member (2011)
German to Bulgarian
+ ...
Another Tip Mar 24, 2009

You can scan the document using Fine Reader which converts it into a Word file. In most cases it works perfectly!

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Converting PDFs is not DTP Mar 24, 2009

Using InFix to edit distilled PDFs, or converting distilled PDFs into Word does not involve DTP. True DTP is when a PDF was obtained by scanning. Then the whole publication must be re-created.

Some translators try to do it with MS-Word. If it is slightly complex, they get desperate.

My m.o. for the past 20 years or so has been PageMaker. I'll move to some other software after I face any DTP job it's unable to do. So far this hasn't happened. I'm using v6.52, as v7 is much worse. Among the other free Adobe updates, I installed the "place PDF as image" one.

Assuming the pages were well scanned, I place each original page on the corresponding PageMaker page as a background, and adjust very carefully its size and position. Then I use it as a template to paste or draw everything on top of it, and adjust accordingly. When a page is finished, I simply delete that background.

Amazingly, if all graphics are separately available, it's faster for me to rebuild a messy pub with PageMaker than for some FrameMaker users to implement the translation there.


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Mario Gonzalez  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:01
Member (2008)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Still Mar 24, 2009

Trouble is, those converters will miss colons, periods and will separate paragraphs at the wrong place.
This will mess up Translation memory use because only fragments will be shown. SO I end up fixing the resulting word file and then work it through my TM. I should think that if no originals are available, we should switch to per hour quote for these jobs.


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 23:01
French to Dutch
+ ...
Tip # 4: if source files aren't available Mar 25, 2009

I first use PDF Converter, if possible. But if this isn't possible, here is tip # 4: use a second computer, show the original on the left screen and just type your translation in Word on the right screen. Amazing how much time you'll save.
(you can do the same thing on the the same computer, but this is much more complicated, especially on a laptop).

But I agree with José, retrieving text from a PDF file isn't DTP.

As for the trick with Pagemaker, if you don't own this software you can do the same thing in Powerpoint. Remember that photographs copied from PDF files aren't original pictures but condensed ones, with a much lower resolution.

Always ask your client before doing DTP: does he want you to translate or to make your translation identical to the original? If he gives you a PDF, the price won't be the same.


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Rafał Kwiatkowski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:01
German to Polish
+ ...
Pagemaker trick Mar 25, 2009

can be performed using InDesign also.

Another trick #5 is that to translate the PDF as plain text and after the translation open the PDF (page by page and using "save" NOT "save as" option) in the Illustrator and C&P the translation. I'm SURE that this is the best way to retain the original layouts, fonts etc. except the creating the publication from stratch.
Using this solution, remember to remowe all lines of texts excluding the first one of every block of text. Then "normalize"/remove all formatting of the remaining first line then paste the translation and "divide" the lines using "Soft Enters".


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
PageMaker & InDesign Mar 25, 2009

agaetis wrote:
PageMaker trick can be performed using InDesign also.


InDesign is PageMaker's son!

Maybe I'm wrong, but I get the impression that while every Microsoft product has countless flaws, Adobe manages to achieve perfection, and then goes beyond.

To illustrate, few people know a discontinued program named Astound Presentation. If properly marketed, it could have wiped out PowerPoint from the market for good. It even imported PPT files, so they could be greatly enhanced. However it suffered from many flaws, which the company was unable to fix. Its last version 8 was very good, developed for Windows 98, but it still had those unsolvable glitches. So the company drastically changed name (to Genesys), scope, and phased it out. When I upgraded from Windows 98 to XP, all those Astound 8 bugs suddenly vanished, as if by a stroke of magic. But the program and everything that led to it was already dead and buried.
(Now it's useless, as I can make interactive presentations much better with DVD.)

Adobe achieved perfection with PageMaker v6.52. It's v6.5 plus a few free updates/upgrades that may be downloaded from their site. Any misbehaviors it had were magically fixed in the shift from Windows 98 to XP. But then they suddenly realized that they simply had to keep selling upgrades to pay their bills. So they launched PM 7. Some web site mentioned that about 10,000 publishers in the world stuck to PM 6.5. In desperation, Adobe put together all they had, and launched InDesign, upgrade costing 3x as much as the usual inter-version PageMaker upgrade.

Evidence of that is that Adobe still sells PageMaker - http://www.adobe.com/education/products/pagemaker.html - but through their "back door". It's not so easy to find it on their web site, you've got to specifically search for it.

Okay, these heavier, hardware-demanding software always have some extra features for top-flight creative digital artists, but they are not needed when one is just making a translated version of an existing publication.

Therefore, for translating DTP-ers, InDesign feels like using a 12-wheel truck to drive the kids to school. I know one book publisher that, after a bad start with InDesign, downgraded to PM v7 and is very happy with it. I've helped them a few times, and saw cases where they'd be even better off with PM 6.52.

There is an unceasing drive towards hardware-hungry software, to keep the market going. Every new version of anything has tons of new features which will seldom benefit the average user. They serve to cover up past glitches, though they bring up new ones. That's called progress.


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Hacene  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:01
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
PDF conversion not DTP!! that really depends Mar 25, 2009

Hi everybody,

Yes, the PDF is the end result of someone's DTP work. Yet, depending on how the DTP was made, the result you can get with any conversion software will still require a lot of work.

For instance, if you are dealing with a PDF created from a Quark document (and of course, your end client does not have this file) and if this document contains a lot of table (which do not exist in the older versions of Quark), you will need to spend a lot of time recreating the layout, not as it was conceived by the DTP artist, but as you need it to be.

Another issue: DTP is generally done by artist, who have a great sense for layout, but alas for us as linguists and translators, have no sense of what a proper and fluid layout means.
For instance, it is not an uncommon practice for DTP artists to put line returns, forced line returns and tabs within the text flow. Yet, for us as translators (particularly if you are using a CAT tool and TMs), this will create issues: additional code, split segments, etc.

Another issue is the text flow. Many DTP artist use various (text and image) boxes to create the original layout. Through the pdfing process, all layers are flatten, but when you convert it, you might find that there is an order that can end up being imported into a CAT tool in a completely random manner (in terms of text flow).

So, as much as I agree that some PDF can really be easy to deal with, some require a huge amount of work. In any case, you need to figure out if the DTP must be done for "the look" of it, or if it must be done so that it can adapt to a translated text.
For instance, when translating from English into French, the average number of word is about 30% higher. If the DTP is done with additional lines between paragraph instead of using styles, it might take a long time to correct the layout to get a true rendering of the original in the translated version. Imagine if you have to deal with a poorly DTPed text and then have to provide 5 or more translated versions.

Hence, our type of DTP is not like any other. We need to ensure prior to the translation process (with or without CAT tool import) that (whatever software we use) we have a error-free text that flows continuously (no extraneous line returns and the like and regular font use (OCRing issue)), properly DTPed so that changes can be implemented in changing only a few parameters and in a few clicks, and in a format that suits (the client's and) our needs.

WBW

Hacène

[Edited at 2009-03-25 12:01 GMT]


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Rafał Kwiatkowski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:01
German to Polish
+ ...
Yes! But PM is still independent as You said. Mar 25, 2009

InDesign is PageMaker's son!


InDesign is in most part based on PageMaker - that's right.

But then they suddenly realized that they simply had to keep selling upgrades to pay their bills. So they launched PM 7.


Are You suggesting that PM 7 have no important and usefull functions? "Adobe surprised everybody in 2001 when it released PageMaker 7, which included PDF creation capabilities, data merge functionality, integration features for users of other Adobe software products and other enhancements."
The interesting thing is "InDesign CS PageMaker Edition". More info here: http://www.corporatemedianews.com/2004/01_jan/features/idpsfl040105.htm

Hacène: You're 100% right! I couldn't say it better.


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Mauricio Coitiño  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 19:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
When PDF turns DTP Mar 25, 2009

agaetis wrote:

can be performed using InDesign also.

Another trick #5 is that to translate the PDF as plain text and after the translation open the PDF (page by page and using "save" NOT "save as" option) in the Illustrator and C&P the translation. I'm SURE that this is the best way to retain the original layouts, fonts etc. except the creating the publication from stratch.
Using this solution, remember to remowe all lines of texts excluding the first one of every block of text. Then "normalize"/remove all formatting of the remaining first line then paste the translation and "divide" the lines using "Soft Enters".


All of you have made very relevant contributions. I'd like to comment on this one. Undoubtedly, in a case where we have a complex layout (a magazine, a multipage brochure, etc.) which includes a combination of text, pictures, color shapes and other elements, the best choice would be DTP software (IF the client requests an identical file and orginials ARE NOT available.)
There are many alternatives: Adobe Pagemaker/InDesign/Illustrator, QuarkXPress and even CorelDraw. This highly depends on the quantity of pages and how comfortable you feel with each interface.
As specialized DTP software is involved, I would certainly label this kind of assignment as "with DTP"


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