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Am I partially or fully responsible for the translated document's formatting?
Thread poster: Fredrik Pettersson

Fredrik Pettersson  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Member (2009)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Oct 8, 2011

Am I partially or fully responsible for the translated document's formatting?

When I have finished translating a Word-document with SDL Trados 2007 (Workbench), and generate the clean monolingual file, to what extent am I responsible for the formatting in this final translated document?

There are several situations that could be the case, such as deficient/faulty formatting in the original Word-document, formatting in another writing system such as Chinese, and also a faulty Word-document (something wrong with the actual file).

So, when I finally view the result in the monolingual translated Word-document and the formatting is distorted (largely or only to a small extent), will it always be my responsibility to fix this without charging anything for it, regardless of the cause (which most often will take a lot of time and effort to find out and to find evidence)? The cause could very well have been an original file which was deficiently formatted from the beginning.

Also, regarding my reflections above, will this matter of responsibility differ depending on whether my customer is a translation agency or a direct client?


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 22:18
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
SDL Trados 2007 Oct 8, 2011

As far as I used it, Workbench + Word with Trados macro change target formats after cleanup of thranslation. Workbench+Tageditor is better for formats but specific issues about languages still remain e.g. Thai.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
If you charge for it Oct 8, 2011

If your rates include formatting as part of your service, then you have assumed the responsibility.

Personally, I find almost everything that is not the actual translation per se of the text content to be time-consuming and moreover am not very good at it, so I prefer to leave that up to the client, considering it a secretarial/admin task rather than language work. My delivery times and rates are thus calculated on the basis of translation only, because the same text can take twice as long to process if you have to observe all the formatting foibles.


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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:18
English to French
+ ...
It fully depends on your agreement with the client Oct 8, 2011

It is better to point out any possible formatting issue when you get the file before doing your quote.

IMHO you have to be more explicit with direct clients, usually they don't have a clue regarding the language (source or target) and it is your job to explain everything regarding layout, file format, etc.... and charge accordingly for extra work of course.


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Andre Dumoulin  Identity Verified
Panama
Local time: 10:18
Member (2010)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree Oct 8, 2011

nordiste wrote:

It is better to point out any possible formatting issue when you get the file before doing your quote.

IMHO you have to be more explicit with direct clients, usually they don't have a clue regarding the language (source or target) and it is your job to explain everything regarding layout, file format, etc.... and charge accordingly for extra work of course.



I agree. Standard translation agreements should include a lower rate when the customer doesn't require special attention to the formatting or layout, or particular CAT tool, and all these time-consuming issues.


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Ambrose Li  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:18
Chinese to English
+ ...
Formatting vs punctuation Oct 8, 2011

But isn’t this at least somewhat true, since the original poster mentioned translating to “a different writing system such as Chinese”? In Chinese, certain punctuation marks look like formatting to the untrained Western eye. And in English, certain things expressed as formatting are expressed as punctuation marks in Chinese.

I shouldn’t really take a stand in this discussion, but wouldn’t the translation be incomplete if these are not taken into account?


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
But aren't we supposed just to translate? Oct 8, 2011

Andre Dumoulin wrote:

I agree. Standard translation agreements should include a lower rate when the customer doesn't require special attention to the formatting or layout, or particular CAT tool, and all these time-consuming issues.


So why should we charge less only for translation or for using any CAT tool we want or if we prefer, any at all? I find this really bewildering.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:18
English to German
+ ...
Why? Oct 8, 2011

Andre Dumoulin wrote:
I agree. Standard translation agreements should include a lower rate when the customer doesn't require special attention to the formatting or layout, or particular CAT tool, and all these time-consuming issues.


This would mean that I should charge less for my most sophisticated and challenging texts, such as management training for world market leaders, ad campaigns, stage plays, etc, all of which don't require any CAT tools? I fail to see any logic in that.

Lower rates? I think not.


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Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 16:18
Member (2010)
English to Polish
+ ...
??? Oct 8, 2011

Andre Dumoulin wrote:

I agree. Standard translation agreements should include a lower rate when the customer doesn't require special attention to the formatting or layout, or particular CAT tool, and all these time-consuming issues.


I'm sorry and with all due respect, but that's quite a nonsense. It's about charging more for formating and NOT about charging less for not formatting.
Ewa

[Edited at 2011-10-09 12:27 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:18
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Luckily, you need not be bound by a standard agreement Oct 9, 2011

Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak) wrote:

Andre Dumoulin wrote:

I agree. Standard translation agreements should include a lower rate when the customer doesn't require special attention to the formatting or layout, or particular CAT tool, and all these time-consuming issues.


I'm sorry and with all due respect, but that's quite a nonsense. It's about charging more for formating and about charging less for not formatting.
Ewa


Unless I have expressly agreed otherwise with the client, I deliver the translation with the same formatting as the source.

However, I very frequently DO discuss it with the client, or they mention in advance what they want.

e.g. PDF scans of smudged medical records - please deliver as Word files and mark (but do not slavishly follow) new page breaks.

And if formatting takes time, then I charge for that as well as translation.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ignorance is bliss? Oct 9, 2011

nordiste wrote:
IMHO you have to be more explicit with direct clients, usually they don't have a clue regarding the language (source or target) and it is your job to explain everything regarding layout, file format, etc.... and charge accordingly for extra work of course.


My point exactly! If you don't point these things out, they will be unaware of them. The same applies to undefined acronyms in source texts, which can be hugely time-consuming.


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Michal Glowacki  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 16:18
Member (2010)
English to Polish
+ ...
basic formatting vs complex formatting Oct 9, 2011

I personally always do some final minor tweaking of a document and if someone asks, I always say that some basic formatting is included in the price of my translation. There's a variety of reasons for that, one being that most clients expect to receive a file that is a copy of their source. The other is that if I put the little extra effort into maintaining the formatting, the file looks better, which makes me look better. It's a small investment that I find worthwhile.

Of course, it's a different thing with direct client and with agencies. The PMs usually go through files and do the formatting themselves, while with direct clients it depends on the file and its complexity. Obviously, if it's a newsletter in inx I don't offer any formatting for free as DTP is not really my thing and it's usually included in the process on the client's side anyway. But if it's a word or powerpoint, some reasonable tweaking can be expected.

If a file is a PDF with complex formatting, I charge extra but I always let the client know in advance.


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Evonymus (Ewa Kazmierczak)  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 16:18
Member (2010)
English to Polish
+ ...
@Christine Oct 9, 2011

Sorry, I've missed an important "not" in my post It was late and I was tired
Ewa

[Edited at 2011-10-09 12:30 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:18
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
It depends on the deliverable Oct 9, 2011

Fredrik Pettersson wrote:
When I have finished translating a Word-document with SDL Trados 2007 (Workbench), and generate the clean monolingual file, to what extent am I responsible for the formatting in this final translated document?


If the client wants you to deliver the CAT tool's bilingual format, it means that they intend to do something with it. If they mean to recreate the translation again at some later stage (e.g. after proofreading by a second person), then any formatting you've added to the output file would be for nothing, because the client is going to recreate the faulty version from the bilingual format anyway. However, if they simply want the bilingual format because they want to add it to their TM, and if they really want a delivery-ready output file, then you are at least partially responsible for the formatting of the output file.

My take has always been that if the client insists on a particular CAT tool, then the client is ultimately responsible for the formatting of the final file. If the client gives me the choice of CAT tool, then I'm responsible for the final file's look and feel. This is a useful attitude but it can't always be applied, unfortunately.

If the client had created the bilingual format (e.g. TTX) then it is partially the client's problem if the formatting is wrong, because a GOOD TRANSLATOR will pre-format the source text to remove any formatting problems before feeding it to the CAT tool (I'm talking here about CAT tools that do not allow formatting changes on the fly, i.e. ones that work with intermezzo bilingual formats). Or, if the client creates the bilingual format only as a courtesy and does not require that the translator use that version of it (i.e. the translator is free to recreate the bilingual file himself after having fiddled with the source text), the responsibility for formatting goes back towards the translator.

If the deliverable is the output file only (without any mention of CAT tools), then you are fully responsible for its formatting, unless it is a special case. By a special case I mean a document that contains such complex formatting that it would require an expert user in that format to fix it.

However, if you use a CAT tool by choice and you have to deliver only the output file, then it is good practice to export a final version after you've translated 10% of the file (and every 10% after that) to see if the formatting of the output file up to that stage sets off any alarm bells that would require asking the client for an extension because of complex formatting issues.

The cause could very well have been an original file which was deficiently formatted from the beginning.


We as modern translators take so much for granted. We take for granted that the file from the client would be translate-ready, and being able to feed such files into CAT tools allows us to work faster and cheaper. But if you think about it, it shouldn't matter in what state the client's file is.

If we deal with clients whose files are typically not in a translatable state (i.e. directly clients instead of non-middleman translation agencies), it should be decided how to deal with (and charge for) fixing the text first before starting on the translation.

A client might not be happy if you tell him that his file is in a poor state and that you will charge extra for fixing it first. If it is a regular client you could try to teach him (or the person creating his files) how to do it properly, but for the most part you would have to decide if you're going to take a chance that this will not happen often, or if you're going to set a price for it upfront.



[Edited at 2011-10-09 14:22 GMT]


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:18
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Doesn't it always take time? Oct 9, 2011

Christine Andersen wrote:

And if formatting takes time, then I charge for that as well as translation.


But it always takes time! Even "simple" formatting probably takes up more time than we realize. Say you want to place a on date the right side of the page to match the PDF -- how many times did you have to hit the tab key to do that? Five? Six? You might have been been able to write several words in that time instead of working on the formatting. Now add that up for every formatting adjustment in a document...


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