"educating" the direct customer
Thread poster: Francesca moletta

Francesca moletta
Local time: 11:45
English to Italian
+ ...
Dec 14, 2004

Dear all,

I've just started working for a direct customer (hurray!).

The first text he sent was a PDF originated from a scanned document. I just said I'd prefer word docs or PDF that I can at least copy/paste. But he didn't answer, so I did the job (just 700 words) without asking nothing more.
Today he sent me another file of the same kind and 2 (bigger) protected PDFs (technical specifications ... very repetitive).

My question is: how can I make him understand I really need unprotected PDFs or better word texts, without giving the impression that is JUST better for ME!
As you may imagine, my main concern is about CAT! I cannot process those (repetitive) files with my wordfast.

I thought of various options:
- Telling him about CATs: too hard! The main risk is that he will think these CATs are a kind of machine translation software. It's hard to make understand a direct customer what a CAT exactly is. I'm afraid he will end up thinking "I see how translators do: they buy a software and the words come out automatically ... cool".
- Telling him that by working on a word file I will save much more time and that he'll have his text translated earlier.

Basically, I don't want him to think "I wonder why she wants word files, unprotected PDFs ... she makes waste my time only because she wants to complete the job earlier and go out having fun".

How can I make him understand it's better for him too (consistency, etc.) without talking of CATs (too risky), discounts etc.

Thank you


Sara Freitas
Local time: 11:45
French to English
Use your rate scale Dec 14, 2004


I simply charge 10-20% more for source docs that can't be modified (faxes, locked PDFs, hard copies). It's amazing how quickly the customers manage to provide Word or other modifiable formats!




Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:45
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Suggestion Dec 14, 2004

If it's technical specs I assume the docs contain a lot of figures, measurements, etc.
Explain to him that if he provides Word files you won't have to "copy" such figures with the risk of inserting some mistakes. It's for his own interest.
Anyway you should try to find out how the original files were produced. May be they were produced with FrameMaker or PageMaker and he assumes you don't own such expensive programs so he needs to send you a "simple" PDF. Just a possibility.


Local time: 11:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
Patience Dec 14, 2004

I have not had issues about having to explain CAT to clients but I have had to exercise a lot of patience with clients that do not understand or know about translation in general. If the client is located in the same city as I am I usually take the time to sit down with them and explain to them certain aspects that would indeed make it easier for me and more advantageous for them as well. Then again it must be said that I live in a country where the people are still pretty inexperienced with having someone else translate material for them. People are still pretty weary about the whole thing. Many are under the impression still that trnaslating is like transcribing (only that the result is a different language). Since it is not trnascribing it does take longer than what they (the client) would consider appropriate (150 pages are not done in 1.5 days...I have had that) so I have had to practice a lot of patience and I have had to actually sit down with them and explain the impossibility of their expectation on me...

It has worked for me and I have even gotten a couple of clients to hand me the translation texts with enough time to not kill myself working, because in most cases I used to find out that they had the texts written for one or two months (or at least a considerable amount of time) before they actually handed them to me last minute and asked me to translate them overnight. It took some time and some meetings with clients to explain that to them but it has worked for me and now I have an easier time. I do however have to do that with most of my new clients once I see that they are asking the impossible. Besides meeting with them gives them a chance as well to ask whatever it is they would like to know. But I only do that with clients that are here in my city. I usually email the others and explain what I just wrote about.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that patience does pay off in the long run. Even if you do take the time to explain something more complicated like the tools of the trade, or the reasons why it would be beneficial to both parties to have the format in a certain way, in the end it will be time well spent in my humble opinion.



Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:45
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
Agree with Sara... Dec 14, 2004

Tell him that a pdf file costs more and you'll see how fast they find the source files. Usually a direct client doesn't even care how you do the work, so if they are not interested don't try to educate them on CAT tools and such (although some do care, and Alexandra's advice of taking the time to explain the basics to those rare gems is well worth the effort and does pay in the long run).

What you should do is to simply explain why you charge more for pdf files (or images, faxes, etc.): they take more time. Whether you unprotect the file, copy & paste it and check it to see if it looks the same as the original or if you OCR it and then correct the resulting document, it sure costs 10-20% more depending on how fast you are in the formatting process. Not to mention that you payed dearly for that OCR or unprotection software...


Francesca moletta
Local time: 11:45
English to Italian
+ ...
thanks Dec 15, 2004

Thank you for your precious advice.

I believe the "surcharge threat" will work in my case too.

I'll let you know.



Anjo Sterringa  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:45
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Consistency & scanning your document Dec 15, 2004

Something that DOES help in explaining CAT tools to a direct customer is 'consistency'. You can explain that, if you can check (all) the original documents in the same software you are doing the translation in, it'll take you less time to find out how a certain term was translated before - even if it was many months ago.

If the document is a pdf with not too much formatting, by all means charge more, but consider scanning them and then translating them with Wordfast or another CAT tool.

A friend of mine uses Abbyy finereader, and more people seem to like it, see also:

Go for Abbyy FineReader Oct 31, 2003

I have tested several OCR software and found out that Abbyy FineReader produces the best results in combination with my HP scanner. It is excellent for technical manuals where both hardcopy images and texts have to be converted into a translatable Word document.

Good luck,


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