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Changing graphics in Word documents
Thread poster: Jessica M

Jessica M  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:45
Spanish to English
Sep 15, 2007

Hi there,

I have a document that has some graphics with text that have to be translated. It is a Word document, and I can't figure out how to change the text without screwing up the colors/font/graphic as a whole.

I'm using Office for Mac (=Office 2004).

Thanks in advance for any help.


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Local time: 20:45
Need to know more about the graphics Sep 15, 2007

I have a document that has some graphics with text that have to be translated. It is a Word document, and I can't figure out how to change the text without screwing up the colors/font/graphic as a whole.

Umm because you talked about screwing up colors, fonts, and graphics, it sort of sounds like you can "get to" the text, which would imply that the text is not a part of the graphic (as text in a TIFF, for example, is just a collection of dots you can't select). Is this WordArt? Text on top of other graphics?

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Tony M  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:45
French to English
+ ...
Depends on how the graphics were created Sep 16, 2007

If the graphics were created using an external graphics software application, it's highly likely that you won't be able to edit them in Word, in which case you may have to adopt a work-around. (see later...)

If they were created in Word (or at least a program that allows editing through Word), then you should be able to get into them and edit without them messing up too much.

Be warned, however, that if the page layout wasn't done in a very organized fashion, you might have trouble with graphics shifting around and re-arranging things on the page in a particularly alarming fashion! In particular, grouping or ungrouping graphics elements can cause them to change position, according to the settings under image format / text wrapping etc.

Whenever I have to handle graphics like this, I usually ungroup them, select all non-text elements and re-group those, and then work in the individual text elements, re-grouping those when I've finished, and then finally doing an overall re-group of text + graphics elements at the end. At that point, even if things have shifted around a bit before, everything usually goes back into place OK! However, liberal use of Ctrl Z (or of course in your case, Command Z) [undo] is very helpful, and you may also find it wise to work in a back-up copy of your file, just in case anything goes disastrously and irretrievably wrong!

Note that sometimes, for reasons of translated text not being the same length as the original, you may need to make other minor tweaks, like adusting the position of arrows on a diagram, for example, in order to leave your graphics neat and coherent.

Regarding uneditable graphics, I usually adopt one of 2 policies:

either I use Word text boxes to blank out the existing text and insert the new (where a simple situation allows a reasonable match of colours / fonts etc.) to be made. I always group my text boxes with the original image so they won't shift around, though the same issues to do with image positioning / text wrapping arise, and in certain cases, I have found myself unable to group to an uneditable image. I'm afraid I haven't wasted time investigating all this more closely, I just warn the customer, and if necessary / possible, offer to out-source the graphics work to a colleague on their behalf.

or I create a 2-column word table with source text in the left-hand column and my translations in the right-hand one, to help the customer's graphic designers find their way around as they make the necessary modifications — of course, you need to warnt he customer that they'll have to get their graphic artist involved!

[Edited at 2007-09-16 07:12]

[Edited at 2007-09-16 07:15]

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Ken Cox  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:45
German to English
+ ...
further comments Sep 16, 2007

Tony has covered the key points nicely. A few tips from my experience:

1. Whether or not text in a graphic in a Word document can be edited depends on the application used to generate the graphic and how it was inserted in the Word document.

2. In many cases, graphics generated using MS Office applications (Word, PowerPoint and Excel) can be edited in a Word document. Generally speaking, the best approach is to select the graphic and then look for an option such as 'Edit Picture' or 'Edit graphic object' in the Edit menu. Particularly in the case of graphics generated with PowerPoint or Excel, it is better to select 'Open' instead of 'Edit' if you are given the choice.

3. If you get a message such as "xxxx is a yyyy object. Do you want to convert it to zzzz?', you cannot edit text in the graphic unless you have the program (yyyy) used to generate the original graphic. MS Visio is a common example. In this case, placing text boxes over the text to be translated can sometimes be used as a workaround (as described by Tony).

[Edited at 2007-09-16 14:14]

[Edited at 2007-09-16 14:15]

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Jessica M  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:45
Spanish to English
Thanks so much you guys! Sep 18, 2007

Thanks to everyone for all of your advice!

In the interest of saving time and not screwing up the graphics, I went ahead and took Tony's suggestion of creating a two-column Word document with the original terms in one column and the translated ones on the other side.

I just wasn't sure if there was something I was missing...

Thanks again!

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