Client asking me to edit layout after job
Thread poster: Suzanne Smart

Suzanne Smart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:40
Italian to English
+ ...
Jul 5, 2011

Hi everyone,
First of all, let me apologise in case this subject is already posted. I did search the forums and was surprised to find only one similar post which related (to an extent but not fully) to my question.
I recently translated a technical manual using Tag Editor (2007 version). The text contained a lot of images and formatting that, obviously, I could not alter in Tag Editor. After I delivered the job, the client asked me to check the file (in Word), saying that some spaces in between words were missing and the paragraph tabs were incorrect. I wasn't totally happy about that as it wasn't really my fault but I altered the file anyway and sent it back, not wanting to client to think I was lazy or "stingy".
Now they have sent it back again saying that the images have jumped about and could I fix it. I know how time consuming this is likely to be and don't really think it's my problem. I am a translator, not a layout editor and I really feel that I ought to tell them it's not my job to do it.

My question really is, do you agree that this is not my job and not my problem or am I being unreasonable? And also, how do I word my email to tell them I'm not prepared to do it without getting them offside? I take more work from this client than any other and I don't wish to fall out with them but I also don't want to let them run rings around me.
Any advice?!
Thanks.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:40
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Whose was the decision to use TagEditor? Jul 5, 2011

This is a tricky situation. In general, if all it takes is simple formatting corrections after translation, I do not usually charge for it.

However, let's analyse this in more detail: in case it was your decision to use TagEditor, you surely agree that using this tool is good in one sense (it helps you translate in a more solid way than Trados+Word), but on the other hand you don't see how your translation is affecting the location of graphics and other aspects of formatting.

If the customer simply wanted the document translated and did not impose or recommend any CAT tool in particular, I think you should fix formatting problems as part of the service, since you would have seen and corrected them if you had directly translated the document using MS Word.

Now, if the customer hired you to translate a TTX file (not a Word document) and they supplied the TTX file (or did not mention anything about formatting in the order), I daresay it is their entire responsibility to correct any issues, or should definitely pay you to take care of them.


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Suzanne Smart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:40
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Client's ttx file Jul 5, 2011

Hi Tomás,
Thanks very much for your reply!
The client specifically asked me to use Tag Editor. They provided me with the TTX file. Yes, they did provide me with the original PDF and a Word version for reference but essentially what they asked for was the ttx.


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:40
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Why not? Jul 5, 2011

If you feel that you are able to do it, why not? Just note the number of hours and invoice it accordingly...

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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:40
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Post DTP proof Jul 5, 2011

This is post DTP proofing, it's a specific step of the whole process and it is usually paid according to the time spent. At least this is what my customers do.
Words glued together are quite common when processing InDesign files with TagEditor, so it's not your fault at all.
Since they provided you with the TE file, they should be aware of all these issues (images moving around, words glued together etc.) and know that post DTP proofing is a separate task.

Laura


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:40
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
If you were sent the TTX.. Jul 5, 2011

...in my opinion, it is not your responsibility to fix the formatting after converting the TTX to DOC format, as long as nothing was agreed in this sense before the job was started. The customer should pay you to fix the issues if they need them done and don't have the resources to do it themselves.

Since this is often a potential source of controversy with customers, you might want to make a note to ask and clarify these things before accepting the job next time you are asked to translate a TTX file.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
You were hired to translate the TTX Jul 5, 2011

... so you did your job. Now they need a DTP operator to fix all the text and images reflow. If you are not a DTP operator, they are barking up the wrong tree - as if they tried to hire a DTP operator to translate.

MS Word, no matter what version, is a word processor - not a DTP application. No matter how bad it is, Microsoft's DTP app is named Publisher. So they know the difference.

In ancient times I'd rebuild any publication, regardless of how it had been created, using PageMaker. Of course I charged separately for DTP work. Now I still do the same, however directly on PDF files, again, regardless of how it was created. The process is described on this page. I've developed an affordable general average per-page rate I charge to adjust all text reflow resulting from translation.

Yet you shouldn't do it for free. Maybe you could remind your client of the days when translators worked with a fountain pen or a typewriter, just a few decades ago.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:40
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Telephone them? Jul 6, 2011

Hello Suzanne,
It doesn't sound as if it's part of your job to fix the formatting in the circumstances you describe. However, this is a good client and you don't want to upset them.
I think you should discuss the problem with them on the phone - so much easier to sound pleasant than writing emails which might sound stubborn or intractable without the all-important "understanding" tone of voice.
Best of luck,
Jenny


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Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:40
English to Japanese
+ ...
Hasn't this become the industry norm recently? Jul 6, 2011

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

... so you did your job. Now they need a DTP operator to fix all the text and images reflow. If you are not a DTP operator, they are barking up the wrong tree - as if they tried to hire a DTP operator to translate.

MS Word, no matter what version, is a word processor - not a DTP application. No matter how bad it is, Microsoft's DTP app is named Publisher. So they know the difference.

In ancient times I'd rebuild any publication, regardless of how it had been created, using PageMaker. Of course I charged separately for DTP work. Now I still do the same, however directly on PDF files, again, regardless of how it was created. The process is described on this page. I've developed an affordable general average per-page rate I charge to adjust all text reflow resulting from translation.

Yet you shouldn't do it for free. Maybe you could remind your client of the days when translators worked with a fountain pen or a typewriter, just a few decades ago.


I totally agree with Jose and Tomas.

It seems that these days, clients ask too much on us. Why can't they just hire a layout editor or a DTP specialist to do the formatting? And most of the time, we are asked to do them for FREE (comes in a translation package, where you have to translate, watch out for the tags, plus the formatting).

I wonder what the DTP specialists have to say about this, since unintentionally, we translators are taking their job away.


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Suzanne Smart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:40
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jul 6, 2011

Thank you all so much for your replies, it's reassuring to know that we're on the same wavelength about this.
Having looked again at the file, I don't even believe I am able to resolve the problem, whether I wanted to or not so I have politely told the client that they would be better off finding a DTP editor who can do a better job than I can!


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Claudia Brauer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:40
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The importance of clear instructions Jul 6, 2011

Suzanne, I know you have already solved the problem, but this might be a "teachable moment". I have learned that the way we receive instructions from the client, and the way we respond to those instructions, are the key to avoid these misunderstandings. Some clients evidently want to "take advantage" of the translator, but most clients simply don't know enough about translation, localization, edition, and DTP. It is therefore, I believe, your duty, when accepting the assignment or job, to be clear as to what your "deliverable" will be. You can do that via your quote or via confirmation email. This means, if you receive a PDF with images, you may produce one quote "delivered in xyz format without images or formatting" and another quote "delivered in xyz format and printer-ready". That way the client can see upfront that there is a difference in the cost (i.e., the time it takes to produce the deliverable) of the product and can be expecting the product he/she thinks he/she paid for.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:40
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A free plus... if you want to Jul 6, 2011

Yasutomo Kanazawa wrote:
It seems that these days, clients ask too much on us. Why can't they just hire a layout editor or a DTP specialist to do the formatting? And most of the time, we are asked to do them for FREE (comes in a translation package, where you have to translate, watch out for the tags, plus the formatting).

Indeed I think it is a mistake to ask translators to DTP work. The result is often far from optimal and you get a translator who feels he/she is being taken advantage of.

Having said this, I often take care of formatting for free even if not asked to, if the formatting is just a minimum part of the effort of the translation. I take it as a little plus I offer which helps the customer understand that they need me next time... It's like when you take your car for an oil change and get a free car wash.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:40
French to German
+ ...
"Good clients"... Jul 6, 2011

hire the services of a DTP specialist and even work on a regular basis with the same persons or companies.

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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:40
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
that's a good idea... Jul 8, 2011

or maybe the translator can ally with a DTP expert.
I just got a possible job that was on PDF but the client told me their client wanted the layout to be faithful to the document.
I'm not really that facile with DTP and it never quite comes out all that great...after converting to word then translating I'm not really thrilled about having to fuss over formatting and layout for a 6000 word document. I honestly think they should just take care of that themselves. If I don't do a great job they'll have to fix it anyways! As it turned out the job was given to someone else before I even responded.


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