Poll: Do you ever translate handwritten documents?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 15:15
Oct 17, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you ever translate handwritten documents?".

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Teresa Borges
Local time: 23:15
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Oct 17, 2015

I haven't been asked for some time now, but when I worked as sworn translator it happened that I accepted to translate handwritten documents or handwritten entries on printed pages...


Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:15
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
No, never Oct 17, 2015

Not now. But have I ever? Yes.

Aaaah, back in the 'good old days' before everybody had a PC on their desk and word processors were the norm, documents were either handwritten or typeset.

The longest job I had to translate was a 200-page handwritten training manual written by not 1 but 4 engineers for a pro-use monochrome flatbed scanner, the first of its kind in Japan. It described in detail how image processing circuits scanned and turned photos into film separations for printing.
The Japanese manager in charge complemented me afterwards by saying that the "English made more sense than the Japanese."

Another job well done by Holmsey. icon_biggrin.gif


Sharon Toh, MITI MCIL
Local time: 06:15
Member (2009)
Chinese to English
+ ...
Mainly medical records Oct 17, 2015

I often translate Chinese medical records/reports into English. Quite often, these reports contain doctors' handwritings.

I sometimes encounter (fully/partially) handwritten documents for legal translation as well.

In any case, I charge more for handwritten documents. As for how much more, it depends on the legibility of the handwritings.


Béatrice DEZERALD  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:15
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
No, never Oct 17, 2015

I've been asked once, it was a scanned copy of a short medical report : illegible !
I had to refuse it.

I regularely translate typed & scanned medical reports. When I can't read a term, I warn the client.


EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:15
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Birth certificates etc. Oct 17, 2015

Some registrars write by hand (and some certificates are pretty old). And some seem to write by foot... Especially handwritten Cyrillic is hell.


Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:15
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No Oct 17, 2015

Not only handwritten documents but paper in general. The last printed document I accepted to translate was more than 10 years ago. Currently, either the client sends me a file or finds another translator.

[Edited at 2015-10-17 14:58 GMT]


Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's a two-step process Oct 17, 2015

I translate a lot of birth certificates, many filled out by hand. I usually have to call in my wife (the native Spanish speaker) and have her decode the text, then I translate ^_^


James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:15
Russian to English
+ ...
Not often Oct 17, 2015

I try to avoid working with handwriting, because everybody's is a little different—usually atrocious. I always ask to preview the file, and if I can't read it easily, I turn the job down.

Interesting story: one of the first documents I ever translated as a professional was a handwritten letter from a private citizen living in the Soviet Union (this was back in the 1970s). I was a staff translator working for the U.S. Army, and the Pentagon received a letter from a Soviet citizen who owned a World War II-era, Army jeep. It had broken down, and he was hoping the Army could provide him with the spare parts he needed.

Needless to say, I never heard whether he got the parts he needed, or even a reply..


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:15
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Rarely Oct 18, 2015

I refuse to do written medical documents because I don't want to take on the responsibility. Most of my work with handwritten texts has been historical. I have helped people out trying to read old census records and I once translated a faded copy of a letter written to Thomas Jefferson (on the subject of slavery!). I also worked with my husband on historical documents from colonial Brazil.


Jose Arnoldo Rodriguez-Carrington  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
Twice Oct 18, 2015

In almost 30 years, I have been asked twice to translate a handwritten document. The last was about three years ago.


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Poll: Do you ever translate handwritten documents?

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