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Poll: Do you accept jobs with formatting issues (.ppt, .doc with images, PDF, etc)?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 01:39
SITE STAFF
Jun 21, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you accept jobs with formatting issues (.ppt, .doc with images, PDF, etc)?".

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Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:39
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
Surcharge Jun 21, 2012

I charge a 20 % surcharge for non-editable formats. I usually pay this onto to someone else to do the DTP work for me, as I find it pretty bothersome and that way I have the text ready to use with CAT.

Trados can handle most editable formats these days.



[Edited at 2012-06-21 08:18 GMT]


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Renée Lizotte  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:39
French to English
+ ...
Sure I do, but Jun 21, 2012

I try to avoid taking on these types of assignments. If I'm already busy or just don't feel like messing with tedious formatting on a particular day, then I politely decline. This morning I happen to be translating an uneditable .pdf. While this isn't my favorite type of format, work is work.

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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:39
Member
English to French
Yes Jun 21, 2012

We work to solve problems and provide services, do we not?
If I can do it, I do it.
If it takes time, time is money.

Philippe

[Edited at 2012-06-21 08:39 GMT]


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:39
Member (2006)
German to English
yes Jun 21, 2012

but fortunately, this only occurs once in a blue moon as the agencies / direct customers that I work with are people that know how to use the DTP products.

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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 10:39
German to English
+ ...
Sometimes Jun 21, 2012

I accept pdf files on the assumption that the result is a word file that the client will format as he/she pleases. I have never been asked to produce a translation in the exact format of a pdf file.

I try to avoid excel and even more so powerpoint files cos they're hell to handle, but sometimes they slip through the net (client tells me size of job, deadline etc but "forgets" to mention it's an excel/ppt file.

I occasionally reluctantly accept jobs where the client wants the translation in a second column alongside the original. These are just awkward to handle.


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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 10:39
English to French
+ ...
Other Jun 21, 2012

From one end client, who sends nearly all his documents in the form of scanned images (used to be paper by post) - for confidentiality reasons, they say. Some documents are over 30 years old
Their reference material is a pain in the neck most of the time, as scanned images do not allow me to use the search feature, and I end up reading a lot more than necessary.
I charge a higher rate for this type of documents.
Latest guidelines from that client: no bold, no underscore, no italics, no automatic lists = all in all no layout: they take care of it!

One agency I work for converts and cleans pdf files before I get them, so they are doc(x) files and no longer pdf. If necessary, they take care of the layout of the end product too.

As a rule, I try to avoid non overwritable files from other clients, and all non overwritable files are always charged at a higher rate.

Docs with images get the uneditable images back the way they were. There are quite a few of those around during the "annual report season".


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Samantha Payn  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:39
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
I use the technology where possible Jun 21, 2012

I spent not very much money on a PDF converter (though I believe there are free ones available, too) which has been invaluable.
For other problematic documents, (scanned images that contain blocks of text etc) it would depend on the job and the client.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 18:39
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Stone tools Jun 21, 2012

Yes, but ... only up to a certain point.

I would like to decline all tricky format jobs, but in some cases I have to move with the blows and bend like bamboo in the wind to accommodate more interesting and profitable projects.

Clustermess documents such as huge scanned documents with irretrievable text are out. And, PowerPoint documents with more tags than text are out, too.
Other documents with minimal but surmountable formatting issues are OK ... but only up to a certain point.

Anecdote
Many years back (in the days before CAT tools), my main customer here in Japan got a call from a major semiconductor manufacturer to translate a 180-page document of semiconductor specifications. The subsequent conversation went like this:

Customer - "Julian. We just got a call from XXX asking us if we can translate 180 pages of semicon specs. Can you handle it?"
Me, foaming at the bit - "Of course I can. When do we start?
Customer - "There's just one catch."
Me - (Uh, uh) "What catch?"
Customer - "The whole document's been done in MacDraw!" (What dedication!)
Me - "WHAT!!!!"
Customer - "And, they want you to deliver in MacDraw."
Me - "Do they want me to translate it using stone tools, as well? Sorry, but there's no way I'm going back to the Stone Age."

Laughs all round. Needless to say, we politely refused this project. This project probably went the way of the dinosaurs.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jun 21, 2012

My answer really fits in with "Yes, but under certain conditions" but I have so many conditions and rants about this that I feel I should be in the "Other" category.

Basically my conditions about these things can be summed as:
1) Basic rates apply to text documents in MS Word or compatible (easy to work with). Documents in other formats (Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, PageMaker, HTML, FreeHand, Open Office etc.) are priced according to their level of complexity and the actual time needed for translation/revision. The real-time hourly rate is € XX,XX / hour.

2) Customers are asked to provide documents in unprotected format, with "Track Changes" switched off a priori… Simply because I find the red and blue lines all over the page extremely distracting, a hindrance rather than a help.

3) More complex texts, for example, software strings, highly technical or specialist subjects or formats, etc, by prior agreement only.

4) Graphic inserts (TIFF, JPG, BMP, PNG, etc.) or text boxes often hinder the basic translation service, resulting in increased fees, as more time is needed to carry out the task. Clients are requested to supply any text content accompanying images in a workable, Word-compatible format.

5) Correct translation of abbreviations and / or acronyms that are not defined in the original text cannot be guaranteed, except for the most widely-known.

NB: I've just summarised and translated the above from my terms which are in Spanish, so please excuse any mistakes or clumsy phrasing in that version.

I might also threaten a surcharge of up to 50% to dissuade clients from using cumbersome formats, which usually has the desired effect.

Call me old-school (or worse) if you like, but I really don't consider formatting and similar tasks as "translation" per se, but rather just another layer of icing on the cake.
I prefer a mechanic to service my vehicles, a dentist to fix my teeth and a desktop publisher - or whatever they are called nowadays - to format my texts.

PS: Like Simon, if push comes to shove, I may get someone else to do the DTP (formatting) for me, but I really prefer to try to get clients to bear in mind that if they want a quick turnover as well as affordable rates and good quality, they need to think about making the translators' work easier from the word go, which means taking it into consideration every time they plan to produce a text that will subsequently need translating. It's an uphill struggle.

[Edited at 2012-06-21 10:22 GMT]


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Argyro Alykatora  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 11:39
Member (2009)
Greek to English
+ ...
Yes, I do sometimes Jun 21, 2012

but I have to say that I am amazed at the response I get from my clients when I tell them there is a surcharge...Most of them will indeed go out of their way to find an editable version or are prepared to convert the file for me in the end. Well, when there's a will there's a way...

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Veronica Lupascu  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:39
Dutch to Romanian
+ ...
Yes, with surcharge Jun 21, 2012

I use an OCR software and only accept this kind of jobs if the document doesn't require heavy formatting (tables, schemes, etc.).


Interlangue:

Their reference material is a pain in the neck most of the time, as scanned images do not allow me to use the search feature, and I end up reading a lot more than necessary.


I suggest investing in an OCR software. Then you can use the search function and read only where you need to.


David Wright:

I try to avoid excel and even more so powerpoint files cos they're hell to handle, but sometimes they slip through the net (client tells me size of job, deadline etc but "forgets" to mention it's an excel/ppt file.

I occasionally reluctantly accept jobs where the client wants the translation in a second column alongside the original. These are just awkward to handle.


I agree with .ppt files, especially if they were created in an older version of PowerPoint, then some shapes/tables etc. convert automatically in images.

But I don't have any issue translating excel files, also the kind where you translate one column in a second column. Trados takes care of that.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 18:39
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Hear, hear! Jun 21, 2012

neilmac wrote:
Call me old-school (or worse) if you like, but I really don't consider formatting and similar tasks as "translation" per se, but rather just another layer of icing on the cake.


I quite agree with neilmac in this respect. And, no, you aren't being old-fashioned or anything like that. These tasks aren't "translation" per se, they are separate -- something I have to make clear to some of my customers sometime.
I often feel that customers/agencies are overburdening us translators with extra "peripheral" tasks such as excessive job instructions, overly detailed style sheets, a Wish List an arm long, etc., etc., besides the format issue presented in this poll.

And all the extra time does add up and place an extra burden on the core process of translating.

I would prefer less additional and unnecessary work so that we can focus our energy and skills on giving the customer good translated content instead of having to deal with excessive and superfluous peripheral details.

Rant over. Got that off my chest!


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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 10:39
English to French
+ ...
Re Jun 21, 2012

Veronica Lupascu wrote:

I use an OCR software and only accept this kind of jobs if the document doesn't require heavy formatting (tables, schemes, etc.).


Interlangue:

Their reference material is a pain in the neck most of the time, as scanned images do not allow me to use the search feature, and I end up reading a lot more than necessary.


I suggest investing in an OCR software. Then you can use the search function and read only where you need to.


David Wright:

I try to avoid excel and even more so powerpoint files cos they're hell to handle, but sometimes they slip through the net (client tells me size of job, deadline etc but "forgets" to mention it's an excel/ppt file.

I occasionally reluctantly accept jobs where the client wants the translation in a second column alongside the original. These are just awkward to handle.


I agree with .ppt files, especially if they were created in an older version of PowerPoint, then some shapes/tables etc. convert automatically in images.

But I don't have any issue translating excel files, also the kind where you translate one column in a second column. Trados takes care of that.



I have an OCR, but too little time to process 120 pages reference material in 2 languages for a 27-page translation
I learnt to "glance through" documents and read them quickly (taking notes)!


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Ragland Inbaraj  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 15:09
English to Tamil
+ ...
I accept for regular clients Jun 21, 2012

Some clients want to get such jobs with formatting issues which has been already messed up by some one else.

But I dedicate myself when assigned from my regular clients with high priority too.


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