Replicating layout and "look": Any software suggestions?
Thread poster: Anita Planchon

Anita Planchon  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 03:16
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
May 29

Hello,

I regularly translate official documents such as birth and marriage certificates and educational qualifications. My clients are generally submitting these to immigration departments for visa and citizenship purposes, along with the original documents in the source language. For this reason, I try to make the translations look broadly like the originals - I use similar colour, font and layout. Although this may not strictly be my job as a translator, I know that these clients are going through long and costly processes (of which the translations are a large part of the cost) and if I can ensure the translation is readily acceptable for the purpose it is sought by being recognisable to the official examining it then I will.

Unfortunately for me, French language "etat civil" documents, degree and diplomas, while similar, are in no way standardised in their layout, so although I did try establishing template to being with, I find I need to more or less start from scratch every single time. It doesn't take all that long, but it is extra time I could happily save. I have occasionally had success exporting very standard looking pdfs to word, but as soon as there's some strange font, or handwriting, or I have a jpeg file, it doesn't work. I'm sure there must be some software out there than can import the document while maintaining its layout (even if the text is lost) so I'm wondering if anyone knows of one, or has any other helpful suggestions to cut down desktop publishing time.

Thanks
Anita


 

Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:16
English to French
+ ...
Try OCR software May 29

I translate the same kind of documents, and I also try to emulate their layout.


ABBYY (and presumably other similar apps) will replicate the original layout, although in a very useless way, i.e. using text boxes, section breaks, margin changes, character and line spacing, and other complicated artifacts making editing much complicated than need to be. In general, it is faster to have ABBYY export text without layout and formatting it from scratch than working with text boxes.

However, I do not agree with the assessment of French documents having complicated layout! Even university transcripts (at least for Paris universities) use the same, or very close, layout.

Mastery of Word, including in particular, but not limited to, tables, font & paragraph parameters will reproduce layout of most documents that customers throw at you. Even US birth certificates, which not only are the most complex tables I have ever seen, are different from state to state, county to county even city to city, but change every few years.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:16
English to Portuguese
+ ...
This is truly DTP! May 29

The Brazilian law on sworn translations dates back from 1943, and has never been amended. Until our government changes it, though I'm using a modern computer, I do it like it was expected to be done then... nothing that couldn't be done with the best typewriter ever, and unlimited skill and time.

The advantage is that even the small print comes out translated in Courier bold 12 pt, so sore-eyed bureaucrats are happy to read it effortlessly. Of course, a copy of the source document (or the very original, if required) is attached, so there is no reason to reproduce logos, emblems, seals, and signatures (which would be considered counterfeiting in some countries), I just mention their presence, and translate any relevant inscriptions.

You are in Australia. I - from Brazil - and a NAATI-certified colleague there, down under, rummaged your government's web sites, and we came to the conclusion that while your authorities recommend documents translated by NAATI-certified translators, they'll accept any translation deemed 'official' in the country where the original document was issued. They have been accepting my sworn translations (as described above) of Brazilian documents for years. We made it a matter of logistics, referring jobs to each other, depending on where the documents are.

Now and then I get requests for translations into EN that will be certified by someone/an agency in the destination country (usually the USA). While this would be illegal in Brazil, it's legal there. In such cases I use the defunct PageMaker, the father of InDesign. As I've been using PM for over a quarter century, I do anything with it in a snap.

To tell the truth, I'm so keen of PageMaker that I've been using it to do all my sworn translations since 2000. For me, it's much better than MS Word, used by most of my BR sworn colleagues. Of course, I save them as PDF files, because I don't know how long PM will continue working. It already takes some tricks to make it run under Windows 10.

The problem, as I see it, is in trying to do DTP with MS Word, a word processor, as it name states. If it were a DTP app, Microsoft would have buried its horrible MS Publisher. IMHO doing DTP with Word makes as much sense as subtitling video with PowerPoint.

One key problem with MS Publisher is that it EXports to Word, but does NOT IMport back!

So you'll need a DTP app to do it efficiently. InDesign would be the ideal contemporary choice, if - and only if - you had other uses to justify the investment, both in $$$ and time to master it, as you apparently don't charge extra to do DTP on certified translations.

An option would be to try low-end DTP apps, like Serif Page Plus, or the freeware Scribus (I never tried it). If they don't require more time and effort than attempting to do DTP with Word, it could be a solution. Of course, you'll need some graphic editor to scan & crop seals, stamps, signatures efficiently.


Skallagrimson
 

Georgi Kovachev  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 04:16
Member (2010)
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
Converting images into PDF files May 29

Hi Anita,

You could use Free PDF tools (https://www.pdfill.com/pdf_tools_free.html) to convert images into PDF files and then to proceed as Jean proposed. I use this software every now and then (OS Windows 8.1).

Regards,
Georgi


Skallagrimson
 

Anita Planchon  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 03:16
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your suggestions May 29

Thank you all for your helpful suggestions, and interesting comparisons with your own work. I'm off to explore some of these options....

Skallagrimson
 

VIP9N
Local time: 04:16
Russian to English
+ ...
End format is the problem Jun 1

Anita Planchon wrote:
...Thank you all for your helpful suggestions, and interesting comparisons with your own work. I'm off to explore some of these options....


Mastering DTP systems is not a problem. It is fun and interesting thing. In systems like Adobe InDesign or QuarkXpress or Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw you can re-create virtually any layout, look and feel of the original simply by the fact that you can use the document to be translated as a base layer for the translation. The second layer will be the masking layer, which will hide the spots with the original text. The third layer (the upper one) will contain the translated text possibly made with alike font (as the original font).

However, there are (almost) no clients who agree to have translations in Adobe InDesign or QuarkXpress formats - to be able to edit them further, as it often happens in their process. They usually require a MS Word format. This is the place where you stuck. The only choice would be to offer them a PDF. Or to "stay on line" with them any time to be ready to make modifications they need. Or, in case that an original is too complex to "reproduce" it in Word (for instance, a customs declaration form, where a good deal of information are digits, logos, stamps & seals, signatures, the form itself, and so on), I consent this issue with a client prior to the translation that (s)he will have the translation in pdf-format.

This is the reason why I rarely use the DTP-systems. By the way, InDesign idml/inx format is perfectly imported/exported by most of the CATs.

Good luck.


 

Anita Planchon  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 03:16
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Jun 1

[quote]VIP9N wrote:

In systems like Adobe InDesign or QuarkXpress or Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw you can re-create virtually any layout, look and feel of the original simply by the fact that you can use the document to be translated as a base layer for the translation. The second layer will be the masking layer, which will hide the spots with the original text. The third layer (the upper one) will contain the translated text possibly made with alike font (as the original font).




That sounds really promising. I will take a look at InDesign. I provide PDFs to almost all my clients for this sort of work anyway, as they are requiring a doc with my official stamp and I'm not willing to provide that in word version or anything else easily editable.

Cheers
Anita


 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Laureana Pavon[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Replicating layout and "look": Any software suggestions?

Advanced search






Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »
PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search