PDF formatting problems with Studio 2014
Thread poster: ManRey

Local time: 10:10
Feb 18, 2015

I work with Trados Studio 2014 and have some troubles in translating PDF documents. Sometimes my clients send me PDF source documets which they received from their clients, so there's no way to get the original Word or Excel document. Studio 2014 converts the PDF into SDLXLIFF/ Word. The target document is a word document. Very often the client wants a PDF target document so I convert the target word document into PDF. The problem is that the formatting of the target PDF differs from the source PDF. How do you deal with such Problems?

Thanks in advance


Roy Oestensen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:10
Member (2010)
English to Norwegian (Bokmal)
+ ...
You might want to try InFix Feb 18, 2015

InFix is a program that converts pdf's into xml files, so you can import them into a CAT tool. After translation you can then open the translated document in InFix and get a pdf. The result would be that the format would be saved, though you will have to do some work to fit the text in place etc. in InFix before you are done.

But in general asking for a pdf in return isn't a good idea, except perhaps if you work with non European alphabets.


Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:10
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Don't do formatting - or charge accordingly Feb 18, 2015

Many translators run into this problem at some point. The solution is very simple. You're being paid to translate a text, not to do formatting. This is a job for a clerical assistant, or, in demanding cases, a DTP specialist. You can offer to do this job as well if you can and want to, but your client will have to pay for it. Explain this to your client. Charge your translation rate for the translation part, charge your hourly rate for formatting.

What usually happens is this: Either your client will magically be able to produce the editable source file after all (as the PDF must at some point have been created from an editable source file, with the exception of scanned files), or your client will agree to do the formatting themselves (as your hourly rate will probably be higher than that of a clerical assistant - or you will not be able to match a DTP specialist in terms of time spent/quality produced).


Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Problem with converted pdf Feb 18, 2015

Even if your customer sends you a Word document that has been converted from a pdf file, you may equally run into problems.

A week ago I had the following case: converted Word file translated in Studio 2014. Last segment finished. Try to export. Error (which has no simple solution/no solution at all). As a result, no target file.

After trying and retrying almost everything, I decided to simply open the bilingual file and copy/pase the translation into the source file, replacing source text with the target one (slow, slow).

Ah, and I am not even talking about the fact that about 20% of the source text (which is in the pdf file) is almost always missing in the converted document.

My guess is that you might not want to go through the same experience.

Stay away from "converted stuff". If the customer insists, juts build a target Word file from scratch (and reflect that in your rate, as you will not be using CAT and will have to mimic format manually).

Pdf has been created to be read, not to be edited/translated.

[Edited at 2015-02-18 12:18 GMT]


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:10
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Dead right, but... Feb 18, 2015

Merab Dekano wrote:

PDF has been created to be read, not to be edited/translated.

Precisely! A PDF file is intended to open and show the same publication with the proper Acrobat Reader, regardless of the system... Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and even DOS!

But... it's a common ground platform. So if your choice is between translating source files in some obscure DTP program, and PDF, chances are that, in spite of the countless hurdles, Infix will render the latter option more palatable.

I've developed a walk-through of PDF translation using Infix, however with WordFast Classic to provide glimpse on a few of the issues that come up.

Real trouble arises when a translator accepts translating a PDF file and delivering that translation fully formatted at no extra charge.

I've heard of many who converted the PDF into DOC(X), translated it, and then tried to do the DTP using MS Word, a turbocharged word processor as the name implies, but never close to a DTP app. So they burn the midnight oil fruitlessly trying to do it... for free!

For the record, I adopt an average per-physical-page charge for Infix work on top of translation cost. It doesn't matter if the page contains just a big "Introduction" or even if it's blank... or if it has a very intricate flowchart. For reference, it's half of what I charge per page on scanned PDFs, to put it as background on PageMaker, and rebuild the page with my translation on that "template", which will be deleted afterwards.

It's worth mentioning that, after so many years using PageMaker, I do DTP with it at breakneck speed, the major reason why I didn't upgrade to InDesign yet, as long as PM still works.


Andrzej Mierzejewski  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:10
Polish to English
+ ...
Doable but time consuming Feb 18, 2015

Merab Dekano wrote:
Pdf has been created to be read, not to be edited/translated.

Exactly, and that's where the problem is.

Another possible solution is:
convert PDF to DOC (or ODT for OpenOffice),
make necessary layout corrections (tables, etc.) before you start translating (even the latest OCR software version does not produce a perfect output and I don't hope for better),
translate using yor CAT software,
export your translation to DOC or ODT,
review the output in order to make necessary layout corrections again so that the translation be similar (fonts, images, tables, etc.) to the source text (many corrections can be necessary depending on the source text).

Finally, you can convert your DOC or ODT file to PDF if required.

Layout corrections always need time and require lots of mouse clicks.

In my experience, Infix is a useful tool but rather sloooow....icon_wink.gif
Not for large word count.


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