Charging for .pdf files
Thread poster: Tom Fennell

Tom Fennell
United States
Local time: 11:52
Member (2010)
Russian to English
+ ...
Oct 6, 2009

Dear ProZians,

I am a legal translator, which means that I work with lots of .pdf files, since lawyers very often only receive paper copies of many documents.

I use ABBYY Fine Reader 9.0 as my OCR tool to convert them to Word. Though long, hard learning, I have become very adept at properly setting up the document in Fine Reader so that it can be formatted to perfection in Word, but the process can be laborious for a complex document.

A simple document may require 5-10% of the translating time, but a complex document can easily take 20-30% of the time, but the end result is exquisite, with seals and signatures all reproduced.

Not only is the end quality better, but I get the benefit of the Trados productivity (legal clients in my language rarely ask for the discount), and some documents are extremely repetitive.

I have heard that translators sometimes ask for a .03 cent (US) or 20% addition for files sent in .pdf.

Not that the clients even really require the works of art I produce. But it can be easier to do something 100% well than 80%, and easier to have one workflow.

Creating complex, or adequate formatting in Word would also require time, albeit not so much, perhaps. It is hard for me to track that since I now always OCR the document.

Any thoughts? Experiences? Advice?

Thanks,

Tom Fennell

[Edited at 2009-10-06 12:59 GMT]


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Déesse
Local time: 18:52
French to Dutch
+ ...
Same idea Oct 6, 2009

I have been thinking about charging more for pdf files, but I'm not sure whether many translators do so. I'll also be glad to read the thoughts of my collegues.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:52
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Which is easier? Oct 6, 2009

tfennell wrote:
I use ABBYY Fine Reader 10.0 as my OCR tool to convert them to Word. Though long, hard learning, I have become very adept at properly setting up the document in Fine Reader so that it can be formatted to perfection in Word, but the process can be laborious for a complex document.


It is good that you take pride in your work, but I ask myself if it wouldn't be quicker in your case to let FineReader do a simple scan and then reformat the document by hand. It'll take a while figuring out which elements do better in tables and which do better as text boxes, but I suspect it can improve your productivity to do it that way.

Samuel


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Alexander Chisholm  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:52
Italian to English
+ ...
Similar Oct 6, 2009

I translate a lot of patents, which are usually scanned prior to electronic filing as PDF files.
I have been using Omnipage for the OCR work for some time now (I used to use Fine Reader in the past).
I generally charge clients a supplement of 10% for this, although I always offer them the option of doing the OCR work themselves - after all what are PMs for?
As you rightly mention, having the source documents in word format means you can use Trados (patents are VERY repetitive), and if a client provides me with a PDF file, they have no right to expect a Trados discount.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:52
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Various ways Oct 6, 2009

I either charge a higher line/word rate for such jobs (usually a 10 to 30% surcharge depending on the document structure) or I pre-format everything prior to translation and charge by the hour for the OCR & formatting time. The converted source text is usually part of the delivery too.

Samuel's suggestion of scanning to naked text and possibly tables, then reformatting and applying styles, etc. afterward generally works well. Saving with full layout in Abbyy FineReader is usually a real time waster.


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Tom Fennell
United States
Local time: 11:52
Member (2010)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Quick scans can be a nightmare. Oct 6, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:

tfennell wrote:
I use ABBYY Fine Reader 10.0 as my OCR tool to convert them to Word. Though long, hard learning, I have become very adept at properly setting up the document in Fine Reader so that it can be formatted to perfection in Word, but the process can be laborious for a complex document.


It is good that you take pride in your work, but I ask myself if it wouldn't be quicker in your case to let FineReader do a simple scan and then reformat the document by hand. It'll take a while figuring out which elements do better in tables and which do better as text boxes, but I suspect it can improve your productivity to do it that way.

Samuel


My experience is that reformatting something after an ABBYY simple scan is a complete nightmare. All sorts of weird formatting elements appear which are the devil to get rid of in Word. Easier to deal with it in FR. And it is easier to correct the text in FR also, since it automatically places the cursor at the precise spot of the original graphic of "dirty" text.

Only the most complex tables with numerous embedded and overlapping graphics seem to require a complete re-draw.

The main trick is setting one large picture area, then placing text areas in ("on top of") the picture, rather than having all sorts of adjacent objects, which is a recipe for disaster.

I only use scan to get a preliminary initial word / character count for a quote.


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Tom Fennell
United States
Local time: 11:52
Member (2010)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No cyrillic with Omnipage..... Oct 6, 2009

Alexander Chisholm wrote:

I translate a lot of patents, which are usually scanned prior to electronic filing as PDF files.
I have been using Omnipage for the OCR work for some time now (I used to use Fine Reader in the past).
I generally charge clients a supplement of 10% for this, although I always offer them the option of doing the OCR work themselves - after all what are PMs for?
As you rightly mention, having the source documents in word format means you can use Trados (patents are VERY repetitive), and if a client provides me with a PDF file, they have no right to expect a Trados discount.



Ah, but I see nothing about Cyrillic in Omnipage's specs.....and ABBYY is a Russian company.....


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Tom Fennell
United States
Local time: 11:52
Member (2010)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the advice Oct 6, 2009

Kevin Lossner wrote:

I either charge a higher line/word rate for such jobs (usually a 10 to 30% surcharge depending on the document structure) or I pre-format everything prior to translation and charge by the hour for the OCR & formatting time. The converted source text is usually part of the delivery too.

Samuel's suggestion of scanning to naked text and possibly tables, then reformatting and applying styles, etc. afterward generally works well. Saving with full layout in Abbyy FineReader is usually a real time waster.


My problem is how to introduce this new practice in my market and field in this environment! I have relied too much on a very small number of large clients....I think working with big law firms can be like that. When they like you, they give you a very large amount of business, but if there is a policy change, you are very vulnerable.

Do you have any/much experience applying these charges in the legal field?


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:52
English to Spanish
+ ...
No Difference Oct 6, 2009

I work with a lot of paper documents (physical delivery) and some .pdf scans (electronic delivery), which I suppose make up the majority of my work. I also do not use CAT tools of any kind. I can work quite efficiently in any case, so I have not established any different rates.

I guess because I'm somewhat old fashioned, it all works for me.


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Brian Young  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:52
Danish to English
dealing with pdf documents Oct 6, 2009

We have found a program called "Able2doc Professional" which does an excellent job of scanning (i.e. without a scanner) pdf to Word. All of the often very complex formatting is retained, and it can then be written over bit by bit as the translation progresses. This has been a huge improvement over previous methods.
I recently had one job that had so many tables, columns, partial rows, text in different directions, etc., that I found it easier and faster to do in AutoCad, and then print it out as a pdf.
There are also occasions when I simply say that I will do the translation, by supplying a complete glossary or running translation, but refuse to do the very involved task of formatting required. I don't consider that to be a necessary part of translation, and others do specialize in that type of work. I just don't want to use 2 hours on formatting a text that has 30 minutes worth of translation in it. Some documents, like birth certificates, or school diplomas, are very hard to reproduce, yet have very little actual language in them. Some professional typesetter or graphics expert used hours to make up a form, which is then reproduced by the hundreds. It is not reasonable to expect a translator to do all of that, unless he/she is willing, able, and gets paid separately for it.


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Tom Fennell
United States
Local time: 11:52
Member (2010)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Able2doc Professional Sounds neat Oct 6, 2009

Brian Young wrote:

We have found a program called "Able2doc Professional" which does an excellent job of scanning (i.e. without a scanner) pdf to Word. .......


Sounds like a neat tool, but I suppose it doesn't work with CAT tools.....?

[Edited at 2009-10-06 17:16 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:52
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Translation or DTP work? Oct 6, 2009

If it's plain, single-column text, and has been properly scanned*, any decent OCR program should render translateable plain text.

As some of you mentioned that here, if it involves complex tables and charts, my friends, this is DTP, aka Desktop Publishing, usually done with InDesign, QuarkXpress, FrameMaker, PageMaker, or the more amateurish Serif PagePlus, the horrible MS Publisher, or the freeware Scribus, but NOT with Microsoft Word!

DTP work should be charged separately, as it is not translation work. Translation is all about TEXT.


*About proper scanning. One day, the lawyer's secretary is all smiles, This is my lucky day! That pesky scanner has never worked so fast! Later, a translator gets that 100-page agreement in a PDF file, impossible to read onscreen at any magnification, because it was scanned at 72 dpi.


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:52
Swedish to English
+ ...
Regardless of pricing structure... Oct 6, 2009

tfennell wrote:

with seals and signatures all reproduced.


... what are you doing adding seals to a translation? These have been "awarded" to the original and do not in any way relate to the translation.

Oh, and I would always charge extra for any kind of more advanced layout work (more for work faithfully created in InDesign, less for a rough Word doc), whether by the hour or a by using a higher per word rate.


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 12:52
Member
Spanish
+ ...
Studio works with pdf files but... Oct 6, 2009

it sucks. No OCR software can do a great job with pdf files unless the pdf is very simple, homogeneous tables, segments, etc. Just yesterday I had to translate an apparently simple pdf file (scanned), but the elements in one of the columns had different sizes, Abbyy FR reproduced the layout with multiple text-boxes which were practically impossible to edit. In the end, I used Abby FR to extract only the text and I created a table from scratch, but just that one page took me an hour. If I had known...

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