Markup for recreating of PDF formatting, if any?
Thread poster: David Jessop

David Jessop  Identity Verified
Spain
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 30, 2009

Hello,

Perhaps this question has been answered in another topic but I cannot seem to find it. I have been working on a part-time basis for several years, almost exclusively with the same core group of agencies. I have recently considered going full time and have done a small bit of marketing. There is an agency in the city I am living which would like to provide me with a minimum number of words per month (decent job security although low rates). We are to have a meeting soon to discuss this possibility.

I recently did my first job for this agency and was surprised to experience a difference in expectations regarding formatting of the document which was equal more time for me to spend on the document but the same pay (actually the rates they were willing to accept, ostensibly due to "la crisis," are quite low compared with what I typically receive). With most agencies, when they send me a PDF file, I am simply instructed to translate it into a Word file and they will take care of formatting. My assumption is that these agencies either receive an additional fee for this task before they send it on to the client or the client has declined to offer an additional fee and is willing to receive the document in "rough" format. This agency, however, gave me the original PDF document and then, when I asked them for specific instructions, an OCR version (which I really could not use for much as it was a pain with Trados and easier to just recreate the formatting). It was quite clear that I was responsible for recreating the formatting without charging them extra. I was not sure what to do since had yet to confront this situation with my other clients and so I did so without complaining. It seemed like quite a burden however, and certainly an additional and uncompensated expectation.

So my questions are the following: Should I be charging them more, and if so what is appropriate percentage-wise? Is it almost a definite fact that the agency received additional payment for the recreation of the formatting and thus took advantage of me by not transferring these over to me? I am not sure how to handle this situation in the meeting.

Any thoughts are appreciated.

Best,
David

[Edited at 2009-03-30 23:42 GMT]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:43
English to French
+ ...
Whether the agency gets paid extra for formatting doesn't matter Mar 31, 2009

It doesn't really matter whether the agency charges for the layout work separately or not. What should matter to you is how much time it will take you to complete the jobs they provide you with. When I agree on a rate for translation, it means that the rate is applied to translation. This, by extension, means that I do charge extra for any other task besides translation that is likely to take me more than a few minutes.

I think at this stage it may be a good idea to negotiate. Since the rate proposed by the agency is already lower than what you usually charge, I would make it clear that that rate is for translation only and that other services will be charged separately. Naturally, if the documents sent for translation are very poorly formatted (thanks, OCR!) and the agency requires at the same time that you use a CAT tool on them (mission impossible), I would make it a point to refuse to work on such documents, explaining why (this should be obvious).

If you want to charge separately for OCR and layout, I think it is best you charge by the hour. When I use OCR, some pages don't need to be corrected at all and therefore only take mere seconds, while other pages can take half an hour to recreate. It is hard to quantify the time it will take based on words, pages, etc. The same thing for layout: if most of the document is composed of justified paragraphs and simple tables, you can work fast, but with documents that have columns, inline pictures and text boxes, it's a whole different story.

To sum it up, what matters is the target hourly income you would like to get versus how much hourly revenue this client would be providing you with for your overall services. Whether the agency has the intelligence to charge more when more hours are required to complete a job has no incidence on your business, and it is best left up to them. In such cases, I also recommend you don't let agencies negotiate on the basis of their client's budgets, payment terms, etc. - after all, you are not responsible for negotiations that do not involve you.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 04:43
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Agree with Viktoria Mar 31, 2009

I signed up many moons ago with an agency that used to send interesting jobs at the lower end of my rate scale, and I took them when I had time. It was useful experience in my core subject areas. The PMs were helpful and at least working for them was better than not working. However, they negotiated a rate with the end client and then found a translator to do it, so for me it was take it or leave it.

Their rates have dropped, and in the meantime I have no difficulty in finding better paid work. As a rule, I simply tell them I do not work at the proposed rate. I don't have time either!

Whatever you do, make sure you do not commit to doing large jobs for a low-paying agency if it means you have to turn down better paid work for lack of time.

Best of luck!


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 05:43
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Review the document before quoting Mar 31, 2009

I recently received a document to translation in pdf form which would not even go to doc. I gave two quotes, one in doc and one in pdf. I'll let the agency figure out how to put into doc or they'll pay me to recreate the formatting. That moves the responsibilty from you to the client.

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Marie-Céline GEORG  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:43
English to French
+ ...
What's "Original PDF" Mar 31, 2009

David Jessop wrote:
This agency, however, gave me the original PDF document and then, when I asked them for specific instructions, an OCR version (which I really could not use for much as it was a pain with Trados and easier to just recreate the formatting). It was quite clear that I was responsible for recreating the formatting without charging them extra. [Edited at 2009-03-30 23:42 GMT]


Hi,
I agree with Victoria: if the formatting is going to take you a lot of time, then negotiate with the agency. Making two quotes is interesting, too. Then the client has a choice. "La crisis" is a bad excuse to lower prices anyway.
Then, you have to remember that there's no such thing as an "original PDF document", since PDF is basically just a practical format to view and share DTP files with people who don't own the corresponding software. Depending on how it was created, it can be similar to a fax as regards processing.
Trying to recreate the layout might be useless if the text is pasted into the DTP file after translation. Some basic formatting - bold/italics/paragraphs/columns can be useful in order to make the process easier for people who don't understand the target language. But the agency should not expect a file that's 100% identical to the pdf file and that's something to have to make clear before accepting a job.
HTH

Marie-Céline


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Andreas Nieckele  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:43
English to Portuguese
Illustrator Mar 31, 2009

Marie-Céline GEORG wrote:
But the agency should not expect a file that's 100% identical to the pdf file


Actually, if it's possible to select the text from the pdf file, you can pretty much recreate a 100% identical translated copy using adobe illustrator... you don't even need the source files from InDesign or Quark or whatever... you just open the pdf files in Illustrator, select the text, and replace it.

[Edited at 2009-03-31 12:33 GMT]


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:43
French to English
The crux of the matter Mar 31, 2009

A fair day's pay for a fair day's work, as they used to say.

ViktoriaG wrote:
To sum it up, what matters is the target hourly income you would like to get versus how much hourly revenue this client would be providing you with for your overall services.


How you compute it (I seem to recall Viktoria has a multi-parameter pricing structure for each job; I'm a bit more of a swings-and-roundabouts man) is entirely up to you, but this is the key point - are you getting paid reasonably for i) the job and/or ii) all jobs considered together from this source, given the time you spend on them?

If the formatting looks a bit complicated, I tend to say that I will need to charge an extra x amount for the formatting, which quite often means the original Word document turns up.
Conversely, in some cases and depending what tools the various parties have available, the fact that a PDF has a proportion of repetitions sometimes escapes notice until you actually start the job, so you can gain in that way....


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David Jessop  Identity Verified
Spain
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Apr 2, 2009

Thank you to everyone for your helpful replies. They were thought provoking and gave me a lot to consider.

Best wishes,
David


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TSDM
Russian Federation
Local time: 05:43
Russian to English
Multiple pages in Illustrator Apr 4, 2009

Andreas Nieckele wrote:

Marie-Céline GEORG wrote:
But the agency should not expect a file that's 100% identical to the pdf file


Actually, if it's possible to select the text from the pdf file, you can pretty much recreate a 100% identical translated copy using adobe illustrator... you don't even need the source files from InDesign or Quark or whatever... you just open the pdf files in Illustrator, select the text, and replace it.

[Edited at 2009-03-31 12:33 GMT]


Andreas, I agree this is often a good approach. Any hints on how to open and work with multiple pages at the same time?


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Andreas Nieckele  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:43
English to Portuguese
Not possible Apr 6, 2009

You can't (as far as I know). You have to work on each page separately, generate a pdf for each, and combine them using Acrobat Pro.

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