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Charging for translation without use of CAT tools
Thread poster: Stephen Emm
Stephen Emm  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:10
French to English
+ ...
Feb 12, 2014

I would just like to draw upon the collective wisdom of the Proz translation community and find out how translators deal with the following scenarios.
Most of the work I do involves translating documents sent to me in formats which can be imported into CAT software (word, excel, powerpoint, etc.) or an agency sends me the documents in the shape of Trados/Transit files.

I am sometimes asked to translate PDF documents which cannot be imported into a CAT tool and therefore need to be typed out "manually" into a word document.

When I am asked to quote for these sorts of jobs, I usually add about 5% onto my standard translation prices, due to the extra time required to manually type everything and format the document.
I would just like to know how other people approach this? Do you charge more for these sorts of translations, and if you so, how much?

I would appreciate people's insight on this issue


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:10
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
More tools Feb 12, 2014

I doubt my customers would be happy about a surcharge for retyping text. I only retype text if the PDF file is really messy or has a high number of graphical objects, lines, strange paragraph arrangements... In 95% of the cases I manage to extract the text with tools. Very often you can also translate the PDF file itself and return a perfectly nice-looking PDF file.

The key is that you can use more tools to do that work, instead of wasting your time typing text for translation. By converting the files to an editable format, you can usually also process the files with a CAT tool and make use of your productivity tools.

In a very short summary:
- PDF files which are scanned documents with a reasonable quality: you can usually extract the text easily, for instance to a Microsoft Word file, with an OCR tool (I use ABBYY FineReader).

- PDF files containing selectable text: there are tools that help you edit the text in the PDF file, and even to prepare the text as an XML file for translation in a CAT tool and then reimport the translated text from a translated XML file, leaving a translated PDF file which only needs some relatively light formatting (I use Iceni Infix).

I hope this gives you a couple of hints to explore more possibilities. For any quick doubts, feel free to email me via the Proz email.

Good luck!


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Mark Hamlen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:10
Member (2010)
French to English
+ ...
I convert the text, but... Feb 12, 2014

Conversion still requires time spent formatting and fixing the converted text.

My normal strategy is to add 1 cent to my rate for documents presented as PDFs. It works out to some percentage, but it's easier just to increase the per word rate. Sometimes this will get the client (especially agencies) to convert the document for me.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:10
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Charge extra for typing and formatting the PDF Feb 12, 2014

Stephen Emm wrote:
I am sometimes asked to translate PDF documents which cannot be imported into a CAT tool and therefore need to be typed out "manually" into a word document.


If the PDF file's content can be copy/pasted, then I don't charge extra, but if it can't be copy/pasted, then I charge extra, because I have to hire a typist. I admit that I sometimes accept such jobs without charging extra, though.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
I don't think you can charge extra. Feb 12, 2014

It's perfectly acceptable for customers to send PDFs. Most business documents take the form of PDFs or Word files, and the fact that you can't import them into your CAT tool is your problem, not theirs. They shouldn't be penalized for it unless they're agencies and they insist on the use of CAT.

[Edited at 2014-02-12 22:10 GMT]


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 20:10
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Sure Feb 12, 2014

philgoddard wrote:

It's perfectly acceptable for customers to send PDFs.

...and it's perfectly acceptable for translators to charge extra for jobs that require extra work.
I charge extra for pdf jobs. Whatever solution you end up using, it always ends up being more work than other, more straightforward formats.


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Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:10
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Strongly disagree Feb 12, 2014

philgoddard wrote:

It's perfectly acceptable for customers to send PDFs. Most business documents take the form of PDFs or Word files, and the fact that you can't import them into your CAT tool is your problem, not theirs. They shouldn't be penalized for it unless they're agencies and they insist on the use of CAT.

[Edited at 2014-02-12 22:10 GMT]


We charge for some approximation of time and effort. If it takes longer, it costs more - or it should.

Now, that being said, sometimes it's worth doing a non-editable PDF at a DOC rate, but that's a question of a discount, which as freelancers we are of course always free to offer.


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Mariano M. Vitetta  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 15:10
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Extra hourly rate Feb 13, 2014

When the original is in PDF format, I typically charge the hours I need to make it clean for translation.

I don't apply this extra rate if the PDF is really small (1-3 pages) and the conversion doesn't take long. But if I need to do some extra work beyond translating, I charge at least one hour.


Regards,

Mariano


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 13:10
German to English
+ ...
don't understand "retyping text" Feb 13, 2014

So the German text says "Der Mann sitzt auf dem Hut." and my English text will say "The man sits on the hat?" There is nothing to retype. You are writing brand new words in a new language.

Most of my work is from PDFs. I don't convert them to anything. I just translate. But there is no retyping of anything involved. Right now I am translating on top of an electronic file in Word. I still have to write the words in the new language. I only get a break if there are words or numbers that stay the same.


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:10
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I didn't get it. Feb 13, 2014

If there are no repetitions or matches on the PDF, why do you need to convert it to a CAT-compatible format? It would take less time directly typing your translation to a Word file.

The only benefit of getting it converted to Word is that you can copy words from the converted Word file when you need to do Google search. However, do you need to do a lot of Google search when translating a document in your expertise area? Suppose you need to search 10 words on a page, it would take 10 seconds to type the terms. If it is a 4 page file, it would take you 40 seconds extra. Do you charge an additional fee for 40 second of your time?


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:10
Member (2008)
French to English
PDF Transformer Feb 13, 2014

jyuan_us wrote:

If there are no repetitions or matches on the PDF, why do you need to convert it to a CAT-compatible format? It would take less time directly typing your translation to a Word file.


I do all my translations through a CAT tool, for one thing to help keep organized, as well as populating my TMs. It frequently happens that another document will be sent similar to the last one done, so having created a TM I'm ahead by that much.

Also, many clients want the PDF and target Word document to be similar in formating and it's simplest to work from a well-converted document than trying to recreate it from scratch.

If we're talking a PDF that is typed text, it only takes moments to convert it to a good quality Word documents using software such as ABBYY PDF Transformer. It certainly takes much less time than trying to manually recreate the formating. And there's no time lost to charge for.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:10
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Sometimes it is necessary to get the source retyped Feb 13, 2014

Here is a scenario that nobody considered so far in this thread.
Sometime we need to use the dictionary while translating the text, right?
Many of us use digital dictionaries (online or CD-based).
So, we need to type the word into the dictionary's search field to look it up, right?
Well, what if it is in a loographic language, for example Japanese or Chinese, where you need to know the reading of the kanji in order to type it? The whole reason that we want to look it up is that we don't know the reading!
So, in this case comes copy-paste.
OOPS!
When the PDF source file is a scanned image, and you cannot copy the text out of it.

So, we have the following choices: use a drawing input tool (for example, the IME pad) and draw the kanji, or look up the kanji by stroke number or radicals - these methods are time consuming. If it is a large file with many specialty words, it will add up to a significant amount of time that should be charged accordingly.
Alternatively, we can hire a native typist who can quickly read and retype the text and then start the translation work. Again, that increases the price.

Therefore, I charge a higher rate for scanned image PDFs.
Sometimes, when I mention the client that the price for translating the scanned image PDF would be X, but if they can provide an editable version of the text, it would be cheaper, the editable Word file magically appears...

Katalin


[Edited at 2014-02-13 04:39 GMT]


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jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:10
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Right. You still have to type when you use a CAT tool Feb 13, 2014

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

So the German text says "Der Mann sitzt auf dem Hut." and my English text will say "The man sits on the hat?" There is nothing to retype. You are writing brand new words in a new language.

Most of my work is from PDFs. I don't convert them to anything. I just translate. But there is no retyping of anything involved. Right now I am translating on top of an electronic file in Word. I still have to write the words in the new language. I only get a break if there are words or numbers that stay the same.


There is no such as a thing as retyping. Just typing.


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William Zhang
China
Local time: 02:10
English to Chinese
+ ...
How to handle PDF format Feb 13, 2014

You just need a software called ABBYY Finereader to help you handle the format problem.

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