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Do you charge additional fees for PowerPoint?
Thread poster: yonyon
yonyon
Australia
Local time: 11:37
English to Japanese
+ ...
Nov 3, 2008

Has this been discussed before?

I have noticed that the amount of work in PowerPoint files is increasing, and the work arrangement has changed in the space of 2 or 3 years.

2 or 3 years ago, my agency did not expect me to format the document, because there were many veteran translators who did not know how to make the text fit in the text box, for example. So I was asked to translate the text and leave the font size or other format settings intact. Someone else would correct the font size later and get paid for that part of the job.

Nowadays, perhaps because we've all learned to handle PopwerPoint documents, the same agency no longer cares to explain how the document will be formatted later. They simply expects me to return the documents in a ready-to-be-published state. But if I miss some formatting details, they never complain, because they, or the client, can fix it in no time.

A few days ago, I was offered a PowerPoint job, which had a lot of copy-pasted pictures. The text inside the pictures were to be translated, put in a separate text box, and superimposed on the picture.
And the agency was looking for a translator who would do all that with the standard rate based on the word count. I told them that it would take double the time and that I would prefer to translate the text on a word document and have someone else superimposed them on the pictures. They thought about it for three days and came back with this: "The client does not require high-quality translation. Don't worry. Just create a big text box and translate the text in the text box, and attach them next to the picture. The client will adjust the positioning of each line of text." This means that 1) they have eliminated the document formatting job all together, 2) if the translator does a poor formatting job, it's considered a "low-quality translation job," 3) nonetheless, the client does not mind formatting the document afterwards, because it can be done in no time, and 4) why are you making such a fuss about it?

I accepted the job, and am doing it right now. Here are some of my thoughts about it.

First of all, this agency is my favorite one, and I have no intention of making my good relationship with them sour over this.

Secondly, I think I need to do some agency education here but I don't know how to approach it, because it is getting increasingly hard to negotiate business matters with people of their age (about 10 years younger than myself) because their attention span and communication skills are limited. I'm serious. I sometimes feel that I can no longer negotiate serious matters in my own language with my own countrymen/women, because the general standard of our language as a functional business communication tool has deteriorated.

Thirdly, although it is true that PowerPoint formatting and editing are time-consuming, the translation often turns out to be a piece of cake. It could be a list of countries repeated over five pages, if they are discussing market penetration rates, for example. And the agency is paying the rate per word, so I feel that it would be a bit too aggressive of me, if I were to complain about the rate, when I am being paid 10 cents every time I translate a word like UK, US, Germany, France, etc. The time consumed on creating and superimposing a text box is saved elsewhere when the actual translation part of the job is so easy.

What do you think?

Am I making the industry worse for my colleagues by accepting this job at my standard rate? Did I ensure that someone (formatting specialist?) lost their livelihood? What else could I have done? Do you think I should have made more fuss and educated my agency people, who might have lost me in the middle of my argument, if my argument was loger than three sentences?


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Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:37
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes Nov 3, 2008

Yes, if the format requires too much time I apply a compensation fee, not an abusive one, certainly.

Best regards.


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Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:37
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Not in the least Nov 3, 2008

[quote]yonyon wrote:
Thirdly, although it is true that PowerPoint formatting and editing are time-consuming, the translation often turns out to be a piece of cake. It could be a list of countries repeated over five pages, if they are discussing market penetration rates, for example. And the agency is paying the rate per word, so I feel that it would be a bit too aggressive of me, if I were to complain about the rate, when I am being paid 10 cents every time I translate a word like UK, US, Germany, France, etc. The time consumed on creating and superimposing a text box is saved elsewhere when the actual translation part of the job is so easy.

What do you think?
quote]

Contrary to what other (particularly, agencies) may think, translating "simple things" like country lists does NOT translate into a high rate per hour. Therefore, I never charge less for things like that.

I usually charge +15% extra for PPT jobs due to formatting. It's only common sense. If they don't agree, I use Trados, clean it to PPT and never mind about the end result.


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RichardDeegan
Local time: 19:37
Spanish to English
More, of course, especially with latest PPT trends Nov 3, 2008

Both PowerPöint and Excel, to name just two formats, should be no-brainers for applying surcharges. Regardless of any possible repetitions (which is an issue that has nothing to do with format), both .ppt and .xls require extra time not only in translating (due to inability to use "replace" and other facilties), but also in preliminary screen reviews, in some cases even impossible. The pesky addition of text boxes is also another PITA for the translator.
This has become much worse in recent years, as executives and officials find it necessary to produce ordinary documents with bells an whistles, oftem to make up for lack of writing skills.
The original concept of a presentation as talking points (10-30 words per .ppt page) has been replaced by using it for memoranda, bulletins, reports and other uses where one would think text would be more approrpiate. As a consequence, .ppt pages have grown to 150-250 words each, often containing as many as twenty separate etxt boxes, each of which must be configured for language, etc.
A similar alarming trend has arisen apparently requiring the use of a program of mathematical formulae (Excel) for plain text. No longer is the Excel an occasional balance sheet, P & L statement or table incorporated from another file. Now it is being used by many NGOs and government agencies for proposals, recommendations, analysis of inputs, resources, outputs and results, and other pure text. One wouldn't think it would that hard to use the "tables" feature in Word to make the rows come out nice.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:37
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No, we don't Nov 3, 2008

We use a CAT tool for the PowerPoint files as with any other file. Of course some polishing is needed in the final PPT file after translation, but we consider that to be part of the job as with any other document.

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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:37
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Your job is not a translation job - It's translation+graphic editing Nov 3, 2008

The kind of job you describe is really translation of graphics and graphic editing. You should charge extra for the time spent adding the little boxes on top of the graphics, or translating the graphics in bitmap format if you are required to do so.

The fact that the images are in Powerpoint is just circumstancial. The same job could be in Word for instance, with images pasted in a Word document.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Disagree with Tomás Nov 3, 2008

Tomás Cano Binder wrote:
We use a CAT tool for the PowerPoint files as with any other file. Of course some polishing is needed in the final PPT file after translation, but we consider that to be part of the job as with any other document.


Not really, no. If I translate a 10 page MS Word file, and my translation is 11 or 12 pages long, I won't fiddle with the formatting until the file is 10 pages long again. Nor would I ensure that everything one one page in the source text is on one page in the target text. That is for the client to worry about, if he wants to.

But with PowerPoint slides, you are limited to the canvas. And remember that PPT slides often contain short phrases, which can tend to double in size in the translation. If your text is too long, you can't just leave it. You have to fiddle with it, re-edit it, change it, resize text boxes, realign text, etc etc.

Also, not all clients format their files structurally -- most of them do it visually. This means that the text boxes etc are not designed for ease of editing, and once you change the content, things don't just flow nicely.

Even with a CAT tool, the amount of post-editing on a PPT file can be quite a lot. It's not even remotely comparable to the post-formatting of an MS Word file.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Comment for Yonyon Nov 3, 2008

yonyon wrote:
This means that 1) they have eliminated the document formatting job all together, 2) if the translator does a poor formatting job, it's considered a "low-quality translation job," 3) nonetheless, the client does not mind formatting the document afterwards, because it can be done in no time, and 4) why are you making such a fuss about it?


Well, in my opinion the copying and pasting of text also takes a long time, and by requiring you to do the tranlation in a text box on the slide itself, the agency is saving itself a lot of time. Also, if the text is in a separate file, it takes a lot more concentration, not to mention double and triple checking, to ensure that the right piece of text is pasted onto the right slide.


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Merja Jauhiainen  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 03:37
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
Agree with Samuel Nov 3, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:
Even with a CAT tool, the amount of post-editing on a PPT file can be quite a lot. It's not even remotely comparable to the post-formatting of an MS Word file.


I haven't translated too many PowerPoint files, but just happened to work on a couple of them recently, and it certainly took more time than translating a normal MS Word file!

So, as it is our time we are selling, I think it's only fair to charge some extra for the extra work you have to do with ppt-files.


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amurati
Local time: 02:37
English to Albanian
+ ...
Translations of PowerPoint Slides Nov 3, 2008

I do support the idea that those translations are a combined service like Translation + Graphical editing. I used to translated earlier some slides from German to English and there were lot of diagrams, images and so. I had not only to translate simple text but also the text on the images. So, it means not only to know to translate but also to have ability to coop with the image editing softwares. Like for example to know to operate with Adobe products. While among the different languages what we might get as result is we would have either longer lines or shorten one and due to the constrains in the images then she would need to take more activities like transition or rotation or even abbreviate the words so they could fit in the image that has to be translated. This takes lot of time so based on my experience the work that I did for translating those PowerPoint slides was increased by 30% only by editing all the images on those slides. The slides contained about from 40 up to 60 slides within single file. And for this reason you would need a good computer with lot of RAM memory, like for myself on my laptop that I use to work with translations I put on 2 GB of DDR II memory so I wouldn't have any hassle while working with large files.

So, based on the increase of the work needed to perform the translation should we add a line like translation rate of images is increased by 30% of base rate for that language pair.


Regards,


Ahmet


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yonyon
Australia
Local time: 11:37
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I'll try to get some extra formatting fee next time. Nov 3, 2008

Thank you all very much. So many replies in such a short time. It's wonderful to have a community to turn to.

I think you are right that I should charge extra fee for ppt files.

I don't know how I could manage to negotiate for it because they (agency and clients) seem to be determined not to pay any extra nowadays. They are ready to compromise on the quality but not ready to pay extra. That's the feeling I get from communicating with them. So it looks like I will have to devise a way to produce high-quality translation with low-quality formatting intentionally to force them to touch up the document. That will make them think if it makes any sense to save a few dozen dollars and have to do the formatting themselves.

Again, I suspect that they might say, "Yes, it does," because my country (Japan) is notorious for not paying overtime pay to full-time workers. If the client's full-time employee can stay late and touch up the ppt file for free, that's their better option than paying a freelance translator more than they want to. But if that's their thinking, the quality of formatting should not be my concern, so I should stick to translating the text and doing nothing about formatting, I guess.

I'll try to negotiate for extra payment next time to the extent that I don't lose my clients all together over it.

Thank you very much for your inputs.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 02:37
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Agree with the client first Nov 3, 2008

I translate most PP files (and PDF, while we are more or less on the topic) at an hourly rate, i.e. I charge for my time.
I also ask the client how much formatting they want me to do, bcasue I am old enough to get away with 'I'm a translator and I don't do DTP'
Even if I spend hours fiddling and getting myself an RSI with mouse, the end client may still prefer to do it differently and change it all again.

I try to refuse to take on editing in PDF altogether, but I do occasionally read proofs to make sure the final setup and line-end hyphenation etc. is in order. Here I add comments on 'yellow notes' and charge by the hour.

Clients try to tell you what to do, and it is their document you are handling, but they are dependent on you to provide a service. If you do not want to do it on their terms, you can try to educate them and negotiate, but you also have the right to refuse for whatever reason you like.

Good reasons are:
'I can earn more by working for clients who are more cooperative'

and
'I can earn the same amount faster or more easily working for other clients.'

In a one-person business you cannot do everything, so you have to decide what you do best and leave the rest to others.



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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Specify what you are being paid for Nov 3, 2008

yonyon wrote:
Thirdly, although it is true that PowerPoint formatting and editing are time-consuming, the translation often turns out to be a piece of cake. It could be a list of countries repeated over five pages, if they are discussing market penetration rates, for example.


Everyone feels differently about how they set rates, whether they give discounts for repetitions or reduce their rates for "easy" translations, etc. etc.

If you think that the translation of a particular document will be easy and you want to clear your conscience - then tell your client that.

But by the same token, this means you should not perform "extra" formatting work for free. Ask to be paid specifically for what you do and what you're worth, and tell the client this.

For example, in this case you might have said:

"I have reviewed the file(s) you sent for the type of translation and formatting you have requested, and have come up with the following quote:

-10% discount (easy text)
+10% surcharge (formatting)
= [coincidentally the same rate agreed in the past]

Please understand that this calculation will be different for each job request."
----
(figures for example only)


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:37
French to English
+ ...
Definitely Nov 3, 2008

I definitely charge a surcharge for Powerpoint files; I used to charge 10% extra, but I have recently increased it to 20% because I know I'm much less productive when working on Powerpoint files, precisely because they're so fiddly. I use Wordfast, so although I can process Powerpoint files by using Werecat to extract the text and then send it back again afterwards, the formatting isn't always right when the text is sent back, especially if there are several colours or font sizes in a segment. Also, segmentation isn't always straightforward in Powerpoint, depending on how the document has been set up in the first place: sentences often break mid-line because the author has put a carriage return in to make the text fit the space. That means that the segments don't always correspond to what's in the translation memory anyway, because of the line break, and the TM ends up not making a lot of sense because it contains a lot of small, disjointed phrases - especially in German where the verb comes at the end. They can also contain embedded tables which need to be edited carefully and separately (not using your TM) and you then have to count those separately as they aren't included in the word count (unreliable anyway because of text boxes) in the Powerpoint statistics.

All in all, I'm starting to turn down Powerpoint jobs if I have a choice as they really aren't worth the effort.


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