What to do with scanned pdf documents
Thread poster: Kristyna Zavadilova

Kristyna Zavadilova
Local time: 17:44
English to Czech
+ ...
Oct 7, 2013

Hello,

I'd like to ask what other translators do with scanned pdf documents? Do you by Nitro pro or other software that converts the document into a Word document and then work with it inCAT tools? Or do you not use CAT tools with scanned pdf documents?

I've been having hard time as I have been lately receiving mostly scanned pdf documents and so I can't use Trados.

Thank you for a reply.

Kristyna.


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Welcome to the club!:-) Oct 7, 2013

You don't have much choice here:

1) you buy an OCR software, convert the doc and claim an extra charge; be prepared that in most cases heavy formatting will be needed
2) you ask your customer to send you an editable Word document
3) you decide not to accept scanned PDFs.



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claude-andrew  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:44
Member (2009)
English to French
+ ...
Depends on OCR quality Oct 7, 2013

A good professional OCR often gives good results (I use an Epson). The scanner has a document feeder and ABBY Fine Reader Sprint OCR - and I don't regret the 400-odd Euros.

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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:44
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Abbyy fine reader Oct 7, 2013

It is wonderful, I recommend it

Best regards


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Been there, done that Oct 7, 2013

Christel Zipfel wrote:

You don't have much choice here:

1) you buy an OCR software, convert the doc and claim an extra charge; be prepared that in most cases heavy formatting will be needed
2) you ask your customer to send you an editable Word document
3) you decide not to accept scanned PDFs.



I've tried all three (I have Solid Converter and Nitro - the latter is more powerful, but takes a bit longer to learn to use), but options 2 and 3 are the ones that worked out best for me! Charging more for PDF formats (or threatening to do so)also tends to make clients think twice before sending you any old rubbish.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:44
Member (2008)
Italian to English
What I do Oct 7, 2013

Kristyna Zavadilova wrote:

Hello,

I'd like to ask what other translators do with scanned pdf documents? Do you by Nitro pro or other software that converts the document into a Word document and then work with it inCAT tools? Or do you not use CAT tools with scanned pdf documents?

I've been having hard time as I have been lately receiving mostly scanned pdf documents and so I can't use Trados.

Thank you for a reply.

Kristyna.


I used to convert PDFs myself, and spent quite a bit of money on conversion software. Sometimes it took me hours just correcting all the errors after I'd done the OCR; with ABBBY and even Acrobat Professional the results are never completely satisfactory.

But then I realised I had got my clients into the bad habit of thinking they could always get me to do that chore (and never for any additional payment).

Now, in these times of narrow margins, I can no longer afford to waste unpaid extra time doing that kind of work, which has *absolutely nothing* to do with the service I offer: translation.

These days I need to spend my time doing paid translation - not unpaid secretarial work.

So I tend to agree with Neilmac and Christel: converting PDFs is a job for the client - not the translator.

Note to Kristyna: if you keep on accepting PDFs, they will keep on sending them to you

[Edited at 2013-10-07 15:51 GMT]


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felicij  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:44
German to Slovenian
+ ...
Adobe acrobat Pro Oct 7, 2013

also includes a feature to save the document as an editable PDF. Of course some letters are not recognized. I recently had a 65 page scanned document to translate and acrobat converted approx. 48 pages correctly and I used Trados. The other pages needed rewriting and the client was happy to pay for my time needed to do the formatting (after he saw the end product). It took me 1 day more than usual but it was worth it and we were both satisfied.
However in some cases it is not possible to do anything with it. One client once sent me a scanned PDF of an ancient (100 years old) hand-written letter. Now that was terrifying.


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Giovanna Alessandra Meloni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:44
Member (2012)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Agree Oct 7, 2013

Christel Zipfel wrote:

You don't have much choice here:

1) you buy an OCR software, convert the doc and claim an extra charge; be prepared that in most cases heavy formatting will be needed
2) you ask your customer to send you an editable Word document
3) you decide not to accept scanned PDFs.









And thanks to Angie for the suggestion


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:44
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Hire a typist Oct 7, 2013

Kristyna Zavadilova wrote:
I've been having hard time as I have been lately receiving mostly scanned pdf documents and so I can't use Trados.


Hire a typist. The typist is cheap and can also format the document. Then translate it in Trados.


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Shai Navé  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 18:44
Member
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Depens who is the client Oct 7, 2013

Tom in London wrote:
So I tend to agree with Neilmac and Christel: converting PDFs is a job for the client - not the translator.

Agree; but it somewhat depends on who the client is. If it is an agency client, than absolutely. This is their job. If the agency don't know or can't convert the file properly (as opposed to running it through some generic PDF to Word converter that stick everything into text boxes and/or a tag soup if one is using Translation Environment Tools), and if one is comfortable doing this, the conversion must be charged separately (never ever for free) and the time table adjusted accordingly.

But if this is direct client it depend on the scope of service that one is comfortable offering. Sometimes working with direct clients means offering a value added services related to the core work that the client don't have a clue in or lack the resources and expertise do to. These services must always be charged for, but sometimes they make sense for both sides.

Another option is to charge more for working with PDFs, scanned images or hard copies, anything between 150-200% as a general guideline - for the extra hassle, time and effort, and that includes only basic formatting. Recreating complex formatting is another completely different service that should be addressed and charged separately, if one is even comfortable or interested in doing this.


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Kristyna Zavadilova
Local time: 17:44
English to Czech
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you. Oct 8, 2013

Thank you all very much for your responses. Very much appreciate it.

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Heartsome Support
Local time: 23:44
Abbyy and Transtool Oct 9, 2013

Recommend you to convert the scanned PDF to word with ABBYY FineReader 11 for optimum quality.
Then clean the word files with Transtools. This will reduce much taggy information.
Finally translate it in your CAT.


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mepossem  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:44
Member (2013)
Dutch to Spanish
+ ...
ABBY Oct 21, 2013

ABBY is very good, you get it included with say Fujitsu scanners for free.
I use the IX500 (some 300 Euros) and it comes with loads of software, I understand the PC version even comes with Acrobat full version.


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Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:44
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Studio or write it from scratch Oct 21, 2013

Hi Kristyna,
I used to use Ominipage Pro OCR software, but Trados Studio has a really good filter for importing a good quality pdf. If the scan is awful then trying to import it into electronic format will just waste time and the results are awful.
It takes a lot less time to just create a new Word doc, typing the translation into it as you go with the two files side-by-side.


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Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 00:44
Japanese to English
+ ...
In the same vein as this Oct 21, 2013

Jo Macdonald wrote:

Hi Kristyna,
I used to use Ominipage Pro OCR software, but Trados Studio has a really good filter for importing a good quality pdf. If the scan is awful then trying to import it into electronic format will just waste time and the results are awful.
It takes a lot less time to just create a new Word doc, typing the translation into it as you go with the two files side-by-side.


What I've done before is open the document in ABBYY, then open a new Word document and go through the .pdf in ABBYY page by page, manually adjusting the text and picture boxes, OCRing, then copy/pasting them into the new Word document as I go. I agree that it is usually faster to make the new document than to try to get everything perfect in ABBYY then export the whole thing at once to a .doc, because ABBYY won't get everything perfect of course and you will still need to manually adjust/insert/type some things. It still takes a hell of a long time, though, so I've all but stopped doing it - it just isn't worth it, since hardly any client is willing to pay what your time is worth.


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