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Translating a Manual with complicated layout
Thread poster: Firas Allouzi

Firas Allouzi  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:17
English to Arabic
+ ...
Mar 3, 2014

Dear colleagues,

I have been asked to translate a Manual of some equipment. The problem is that the file is in pdf (Adobe acrobat document) and the Manual is bombarded with pictures and arrows pointing in different directions, and text scattered in different angles of the page and within the pictures ...etc You must know what manuals are like.

I converted the pdf file to Word using ABBYY Finereader, and the result wasn't great. The target layout will look different to the source and it is not possible to amend some text because it was converted as a picture not text.

Any suggestions to solve the problem? If you had any experience in translating documents of this type it would be great to hear some professional suggestions.

I hope my explanation is clear. Thank you in advance for your assistant.

Firas


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TargamaT  Identity Verified
Syria
Local time: 23:17
Member (2010)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Ask about the original document Mar 3, 2014

Dear Firas,

I hope you are fine.

Ask about the original document even it is in FrameMaker it will be easiar to translate it than to work with OCR output, especially in Arabic.

I hope this helps.

Oussama


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Firas Allouzi  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:17
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Oussama Mar 3, 2014

Thank you Oussama for your suggestion. I will definitely do that and see if I can get hold of it.

Do you think this can be done with Microsoft Publisher?


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samehme
United States
Local time: 13:17
English to Arabic
+ ...
Hi Mar 3, 2014

Hello Firas,

You can check the DTP Software that was used for creating the PDF, by opening the PDF in Acrobat and then: Click on the File Menu=> then, Click on Properties. In most cases, the name of the Application used will be listed in that Screen.

Should you need more help, send me an email through proz.com.

Good luck,

Sameh


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wvizcaino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:17
English to Spanish
Simple tools Mar 3, 2014

Hello Firas,

I have some experience translating documents with images on them and I have got really good results using the picture tools offered by Microsoft Office. Depending on the complexity of the images and the text you can even insert a text box on top of the image and format it to meet your needs.

hope this helps, it have helped me in many situations.

Best luck,

Wilmi Vizcaino


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TargamaT  Identity Verified
Syria
Local time: 23:17
Member (2010)
English to Arabic
+ ...
MS Publisher in Arabic Mar 4, 2014

Dear Firas,

If it is originally done in MS Publisher it will be fine as Publisher exists in Arabic.

From PDF it will very hard for you as a translator and also for the RtL typesetter.

I would like to encourage you to revert to the client to see which kind of original document. I mentioned FrameMaker as it is the most dificult case and it could has a solution in Arabic.

All the best!

Oussama


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
If it's an editable PDF (not scanned), use Infix Mar 4, 2014

Right now I'm translating EN > PT a 76pp, 22K words technical catalog in PDF, originally created with InDesign. I am using Infix Pro. About 5 pages of it are engineering drawings, possibly developed using AutoCAD, and included in the PDF.

The Infix process goes like this:
1. Examine the PDF for broken text blocks, and sequence them together.
2. Check for potential font issues, i.e. replace all partially embedded ones that you don't have all chars with equivalent fonts you have.
3. Export and tag the text into either XML or plain TXT, while getting (a copy of) the source PDF tagged as well.
4. Translate, using your favorite CAT tool. Infix was tested with Trados and DejaVu; I use it with WordFast Classic.
5. Import your translation back into the PDF file.
6. Adjust all layout issues resulting from text swelling/shrinkage - Infix has all the DTP tools.
7. Check for illustrations with embeded text, and edit them with some suitable software. Most people use Photoshop, I use the defunct PhotoImpact.

It may be easier said than done, because Infix requires you to read the 250pp manual to understand the use of all the tools available to you, often unlike most DTP apps.

For translation you'll need Infix Pro; the standard version is for editing PDFs only.

The Infix demo is 100% functional, however it will watermark all your pages with a "done with Infix Demo". You may remove that watermark later, either by buying the full version, or by using their "pay per save" system.


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:17
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
another approach Mar 5, 2014

If the client can't give you anything in the way of original files (as others have suggested), and/or you don't have and don't want to buy the software (such as $$Acrobat or Infix) suggested by others, there is another approach: separate the job of translation from the job of DTP.
ABBYY Finereader, in my experience (I am not highly skilled at using it), does not help at all with complex formatting, and the attempt to save the converted document with formatting ends up being more trouble than it's worth. Therefore, I save the converted PDF as TEXT, and translate it, then add formatting when I'm finished.
But if the formatting is complex, as yours is, you should charge your agreed-upon rate for translation and then charge separately for DTP. Or if you can't manage it, the client should hire somebody else, with more tools and skills, to do the DTP.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:17
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I agree with Susan Mar 5, 2014

Susan Welsh wrote:

If the client can't give you anything in the way of original files (as others have suggested), and/or you don't have and don't want to buy the software (such as $$Acrobat or Infix) suggested by others, there is another approach: separate the job of translation from the job of DTP.
ABBYY Finereader, in my experience (I am not highly skilled at using it), does not help at all with complex formatting, and the attempt to save the converted document with formatting ends up being more trouble than it's worth. Therefore, I save the converted PDF as TEXT, and translate it, then add formatting when I'm finished.
But if the formatting is complex, as yours is, you should charge your agreed-upon rate for translation and then charge separately for DTP. Or if you can't manage it, the client should hire somebody else, with more tools and skills, to do the DTP.


I agree with Susan's approach. You should make it clear that you are a translator. You should say that formatting complex documents is not part of the skills you offer and would be charged extra for the additional work and time, and the software you might need to purchase.

You would then suggest to the client that they send you the text in a format that enables you to translate it directly without needing to paginate anything.

I imagine they would then need to create a Word file with numbered pages that correspond to the numbered pages of the original document, with the text on each page referred to a particular illustration on that page. But that would be their job - not yours !

Then when you send them the translated text they could re-paginate it themselves.

[Edited at 2014-03-05 13:42 GMT]


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Firas Allouzi  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:17
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Mar 11, 2014

Thank you all for your time replying to this post and for the valuable information.

I have found the answer in Acrobat XI Pro. It makes it very easy and straightforward to edit any textual content within a file in almost any language, even complex manuals like the one I have. You don't have to buy it, unless you want to, but you can subscribe for a month or a year if you like for almost £19 a month.

I hope this might help others who face the same obstacle in the future and consider as an option beside those suggested by you.


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xxxLakoff
Germany
Infix Pro is an excellent choice Mar 11, 2014

Infix Pro provides a professional translator with much better value (and value for money).

The software has emerged as the most reliable choice among PDF Editors lately - presented in the most popular German computer magazine called C't.

Give it a try.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 22:17
English to Polish
+ ...
Tell them to prepare the document for translation Mar 11, 2014

I don't know where people got the notion that translators should prepare ready-for-printing materials even out of hard copies or uneditable PDF brochures with graphics etc.

That's not a translator's job. Translators translate text, albeit in its proper context (e.g. including placement on the page, near a specific graphical image etc.).

Tell the client to give you a workable file or no deal.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
A low-tech solution Mar 11, 2014

Write the translation on the document by hand. Surprisingly, some clients will still accept this.

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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:17
French to English
+ ...
Is it a translator's job? Mar 11, 2014

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:
That's not a translator's job. Translators translate text, albeit in its proper context (e.g. including placement on the page, near a specific graphical image etc.


I think you could also argue things the other way round: that in 2014, it *can* be a translator's job to handle the "DTP" side of things. Nowadays, there's generally less of a separation of copywriting vs markup/DTP in the document preparation process, so it's not unreasonable for a client to expect a similar merging of roles when it comes to the translation.

*But* the thing that shouldn't be expected is that the translator magically take on this work for free...


[Edited at 2014-03-11 16:33 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:17
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Major routes from PDF to translated PDF Mar 11, 2014

Neil Coffey wrote:

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:
That's not a translator's job. Translators translate text, albeit in its proper context (e.g. including placement on the page, near a specific graphical image etc.


I think you could also argue things the other way round: that in 2014, it *can* be a translator's job to handle the "DTP" side of things. Nowadays, there's generally less of a separation of copywriting vs markup/DTP in the document preparation process, so it's not unreasonable for a client to expect a similar merging of roles when it comes to the translation.

*But* the thing that shouldn't be expected is that the translator magically take on this work for free...


First, a translator may translate only, or they may go into peripheral areas, such as DTP, video subtitling, multilingual web site development, software localization QA, etc. There are many options, and there is nothing wrong in staying out of any of them.

The only thing to keep in mind when any such other activity becomes so overwhelming in terms of time, income, prodution, whatever, is that the individual will become something else... who can translate too. Until that happens, the translator in not expected to create anything new, but simply to recreate something previously existing in a different language.

Translating DTP-ed material has a few major avenues to get done.

The old way - The translator is also a DTP-er using the very same app used to create the publication. At the outset of the DTP industry (late 1980s), the DTP-ing translator would create a new, translated publication by rebuilding it from the original in hard copy.

Nowadays the goal is a PDF file, and most often the source too. If it's a scanned PDF, we go back to the old way above, like for hard copy.

From a distilled PDF to a translated PDF, the major paths are:

  • Translator converts PDF into DOC, translates, does the layout adjustments using MS Word, and distills it into PDF. Though this is a common approach, unless the layout is absurdly simple, it will be - as a colleague compared - as difficult as subtitling video with PowerPoint.

  • A DTP operator extracts all text to tables on DOC, or to an XLS spreadsheet. Translator translates them, then DTP operator copies and pastes each phrase in place, adjusting formatting. This may be pretty expensive for the end-client, depending on the DTP operator.

  • Some CAT tools (supposedly Trados, WFA, maybe others) can go into PDF files for translation, so the translator can attack them directly. Later a DTP operator will have to fix the layout there. Considerably cheaper than the previous option, but still involves some hefty cost.

  • The Infix Pro process. Translator exports the text from the PDF into tagged either TXT or XML files, and gets the PDF tagged as well. They translate these files in any way they like. Then they import the translated file back into the PDF, and do the necessary layout adjustments. Any reasonable additional fee will be cheaper than the two previous DTP operator-dependent processes.

    Nevertheless, in ANY of the cases above, if there are illustrations with embedded text, they'll require separate graphic editing.

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