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Non-editable/non-copiable PDF (images) doc with 30% numerical value tables
Thread poster: eurolanguagesPt

eurolanguagesPt  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:54
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Nov 15, 2008

I recently accepted a project (~3000 words) which consisted of 30% numerical value tables (Bloodwork results). Since the subject matter interested me I accepted to do it and had a colleague put it into “word with a word recognition program” so that I could copy and paste the numbers in order to save time and reduce the potential for errors.
I spent 90% of my time verifying those tables to make sure that the numbers were all correct and ended up with a not too amazing, but understandable bunch of tables.
The reviewer wanted me to redo the entire thing over again because the formatting wasn’t too good, even though I had tried, but Word simply put things back the old way every time. He claimed (on his first e-mail) that it was totally illegible. Then, after I questioned that, he responded that he could read it, but the presentation was bad (it wasn’t great) I ended up refusing to touch it again, and of course, told them to keep the money.
The source text was of terrible quality, besides being non-editable/non-copiable, part of the text was diagonally placed and in certain areas the sentences rounded out and the letters got larger & smaller – a real brain spinner!
My question is, how would other translators have dealt with this situation:
1- accepting a non-editable/non-copiable PDF file w/30% numbers
2- Having to redo the whole thing

Thank you all!


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autor  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:54
Member
Portuguese to English
+ ...
To format or not to format, that is the question Nov 15, 2008

I find the longer I work as a translator, the less tolerant I become of agencies who expect me to work at my expense, formatting documents, or typing in "duplicate" words that they think they shouldn't have to pay for.

Anyone who requires a translation to be provided in a different format to the source text (eg M/S WORD instead of PDF) should pay for the cost of the adaptation on top of the cost of the translation - especially if it involves developing and populating endless tables. Charge your usual word rate plus an hourly rate to cover the time spent on formatting.

I must say it depends very much on the agency. Agencies which regularly provide me with work and respect me as a translator - who provide me with advance notice of work, who expect the highest standards, who provide TMs and consult me over any changes made to my translations, and who always pay on time - I will go the extra mile for.

Agencies who I've never worked for before, with whom I've not signed a NDA, but nevertheless dump scruffy PDFs on me, explaining that they can only pay 0.0x c per word, get a "thanks but no thanks".

Keith


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 22:54
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
When you fall off a horse, get right back on it Nov 16, 2008

Sorry to hear about your OCR troubles. Don't let this experience get to you. When I was starting out, I fought with a few tables myself while using OCR. A good thing to do is to test the document with an OCR program and see if the tables look funny. If they do, then forget it.

Yes, you can charge extra for the formatting if you like, though I believe that a translator's fee should encompass all reasonable and foreseeable tasks. Maybe one job takes you longer, but then again other jobs may have a lot of repetition or be a topic you know inside out. I personally charge enough so that any unforeseeable obstacle is sufficiently compensated.

I think you should go back and play with that document. Get on some MS Word forums and learn more about formatting. Then practice until you are an expert on formatting tables.

Reed


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eurolanguagesPt  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:54
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hello James and Keith! Nov 16, 2008

Your opinions are greatly appreciated! I may forward the link to this topic to the agency that sent me that lousy PDF if enough people respond.
The thing that I really find extremely time consuming with numerical tables is that the values have to be carefully verified (even when one keys in each value separately) in order to ascertain that there aren’t any errors – that’s the time consuming part for me.
Thanks,
Esperança


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:54
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
MS Word is not a DTP program Nov 17, 2008

eurolanguagesPt wrote:
My question is, how would other translators have dealt with this situation:
1- accepting a non-editable/non-copiable PDF file w/30% numbers
2- Having to redo the whole thing


I think I wrote this before, but here goes: MS Word is not a proper DTP program. If the client wants to have fancy tables, he must use a special DTP program, not MS Word. For this reason, when I get a PDF, I assume that the client either (a) accept that the formatting will only be an approximation of the PDF file or (b) that although I will take steps to ensure that his DTP person knows which text is the translation of which text, I can't do his job (the DTP job) for him.

For the type of file you describe, I would have offered to the client a bilingual MS Word file consisting of a table with two columns -- source text left, translation right. Of course, it helps to tell the client beforehand, so that he can decide if he wants to go seek a miracle worker instead.


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eurolanguagesPt  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:54
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the advice Samuel! Nov 17, 2008

The biggest problem with this Project was the amount of numerical (lab results - 30% numerical values) content; this is where I wasted all of my time.
In 3000 words 1000 were the numerical values which I had to make sure came out accurate (ex. “2.15” turned out as “S,16” in the recognized word format).
The actual translation of words was a piece of cake! For me to provide a table with 2 columns (that’s how I usually do my translations since I don’t have a translation memory program)
I would have had to key in all of the source text (30% numerical values) which was handed to me in a PDF with awful images (only partially recognized by my colleague’s program).

What I really wanted to know from my fellow translators is if they would accept this type of project and would they charge only their regular translation fee.
Thank you all!
Esperança


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:54
English to German
+ ...
Please enlighten me. Nov 17, 2008

Were you asked to reformat this thing? Probably not.

If you received the job as a PDF as you stated, the original document was most likely created in a layouting-program, used by graphic designers, layouters and typesetters. Those people went to school for several years to learn this stuff properly and you might drive them insane with whatever formatting, because they have to UNDO it before they can copy your text into their layout file.

The job was only 3000 words, why does is take a word recognition program? You are actually not supposed to rebuilt a layout. Type your text, if a table comes up, insert a screen shot, probably with a remark such as: "All periods in column X must be converted into commas" or similar. Or simply make a note: "table #X goes here."

"Formatting" means:
Indicate (by bold print, font, type size, italics, etc.) or state in parentheses which translated text goes where, so that even a typesetter who doesn't speak this language knows, "Hey, this is the headline! This is a footnote!", and such.

Where you supposed to convert, say, fl. oz. into ml? I don't think so. Then don't touch it.

In general:
Translators often think that they are supposed to do layouting. Leave that to the pros. Your job is to provide high-end translation and nothing else.

FORMATTING IS NOT THE SAME AS LAYOUTING.

Here is an example:

A (usually brilliant) translator who was supposed to translate an FBI fingerprint card managed to spend an entire night rebuilding the layout. He was not supposed to do so, he just assumed. And he didn't ask. The measly 200 words were crawling with typos because the guy wasted himself trying to rebuild the layout of an official document and then was too tired to read over his own translation.

Sigh.

The reviewer who criticized your layout is an idiot. First job?

Best,

Nicole:-)


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