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To DTP or not to DTP
Thread poster: ViktoriaG

ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:10
English to French
+ ...
Nov 5, 2006

I would like to gather opinions from fellow translators.

When a client asks you to translate material, do you also do some DTP to keep the target document looking like the source document? As far as I know, DTP is not really part of the tasks of a translator - DTP should be done by DTP people. However, I have a feeling agencies take for granted that us translators will translate AND format whatever they give us to work on - and they expect that we will charge the same rate as we would have for simple translation.

Is anything wrong with this picture? Do you charge more if DTP is part of the package? Have you ever run into problems with a client because they expected the DTP and you told them it wasn'T part of the package? Do you think translators should touch DTP at all? And finally, do you think a definition of duties would be good for our profession (I am not asking about regulating the profession, as mentioned lately in a quick poll)?

Let's hear it!


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:10
French to English
+ ...
it depends Nov 5, 2006

Hi Viktoria,

I can only speak on the basis of what I've encountered.

To begin with, if a project requires working in and handing back a file in a DTP format (Quark, Indesign), I don't even bid for it because I do not have those softwares and I do not consider it part and parcel of a translator's job (do you ask an electician to fix your toilet? both are trades, the electrician might be able to help in a pinch, but it isn't his forte).

If, on the other hand, the DTP or related graphics requirements use softs I have and know (Photoshop, Flash etc) - and it has not happened often - then I charge an hourly rate that a reasonably priced graphic freelancer would charge to adapt the translation. If I were striving to get DTP + T work, I'd probably bill in a more enticing way, but that is not a priority on my radar. I enjoy doing graphic design -- for the creativity; fiddling with someone else's design is not creative!

For some clients, DTP is just formatting appearance, which is no problem with a word document or a .pdf that is all text. In that case, no problem and no surcharge.

Then we come to our all time favorite software, Powerpoint (yuck!). If the client wants the translation to be a ready to use PPT presentation, I will charge by the hour to adapt the darn thing after translation. It is particularly rough when working in EN>FR because the text length increases! So there is a lot of fiddling.

What do you do??

Cheers,

Patricia

[Edited at 2006-11-05 10:11]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:10
Member (2004)
English to Italian
No... Nov 5, 2006

keeping the same format if working on an electronic file supplied by the client (for example, Word), yes, but I refuse to format a document as the original if I have to convert it from a different format, i.e. PDF. This is DTP and I would charge more for the effort. Some time ago I had to sever a good working relationship with an agency exactly for this reason. They insisted I supply a formatted Word file after conversion from a PDF file. This would have taken me about an extra couple of hours per file, unpaid. No, thanks.

Giovanni


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:10
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I am about to refuse anything that involves unreasonable DTP Nov 5, 2006

By unreasonable, I mean things like PowerPoint files. And I am about to refuse those straight up, without even considering charging for the extra work.

I am a translator and if I would have wanted to fiddle with someone else's graphics, as you so elegantly say, I would have chosen a different occupation. Don't get me wrong - I am great at fiddling with graphics. But only when I'm motivated. Trying to fix a graphic or a layout that was stupidly done and not even being able to contact the end client in the meantime - as it often is the case with agencies - is really not what motivates me.

I think that, for people who are up for it, it is best to charge the time spent on DPT. I will even go as far as saying that you should AT LEAST charge your hourly translation rate, even if the DTP work would be worth less. I mean, you are a translator, you are worth XY$ per hour, if they want a translator to do the DTP work, they should pay what that person is worth otherwise, because while they fiddle with stupidly made graphics, they are missing out on a great translation contract.

I also would like to know if you think that DTP should be handled by a person whose job it is to do it. In other words, are agencies and some other outsourcers penny-pinching? Also, when your translation is near perfection but your DTP is a little too elementary, would you accept that a client ask for a rebate? Or would you refuse the job altogether because you don't want to risk that to happen?


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Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:10
English to German
+ ...
If I know the software I charge on an hourly basis ... Nov 5, 2006

I do not format Word documents after PDFs, but if I receive a Word document or a Powerpoint presentation I usually offer the service to adapt the translation to the layout of the original (tables, titles, etc.) and charge an hourly rate for this. I have been working with DOC and PPT files for years now and I trained people in how to work with the respective programs efficiently, so it is no problem at all. I do not offer this service for Framemaker or Quark since I do not know these programs good enough.

Normally, for word documents there is no formatting required after a translation, but if you use Trados, some of the tables may lose their column widths and that may look ugly. Knowing this, I offer the formatting on an hourly basis telling the client beforehand how much time it will take approximately.

I love handing nice looking documents back to my clients, so I am happy to offer this work. But I would not do it for free.

Still, many clients are not aware of the difficulties that may arise from translated texts that are much longer or shorter than the original, so I think it is only professional to point it out to them and let them decide, what they wish to do themselves and what they would like you to do.

But I do not do DTP. This is something very different. For DTP you have to handle not only font types and sizes but also kerning and ligatures and stuff of that kind. Good DTP experts take a look at every line to see whether it is too heavy or too light and accordingly will choose where to hyphenate a word and where not. They may also decide to put one line more or less onto a page just to make the next page easier to handle. This is a science of its own and I do not understand enough of this to do it myself.

[Bearbeitet am 2006-11-05 12:15]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 06:10
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
I expect to recieve Word-files Nov 5, 2006

Otherwise the files should be Trados-readied (ttx) so that I have only to translate them.
But recently I encountered a problem with an old customer (agency). Usually if someone sends me the source in pdf I just apply "choose all" and then I copy the content into a Word-doc and translate after I have removed the line-breaks (or I use Abbyy Finereader, but not with complicated layouts).
As it happens often with pdf from a dtp-application, when copying to Word the content gets mixed up a lot. But I thought that if I send the source doc and the target doc the endcustomer would be able to sort it out. Not so.
Suddenly I should explain in detail where what belongs: page number, column, heading or not etc. "Thats what the customer is used to, it does not take much time".
At the first time, when I had done the translation already, I obliged, it took me more than an hour.
But when last week this happened again I insisted on the source text readily formatted in Word. And I got it.

The problem is, even if you charge some extra, the extra work is so much that one would have to charge double to cover it. And that agencies do not exept.

If an agency outsources the same text to many translators (languages) we should insist on translation-ready source files. After all the agency has to do the conversion only once, but otherwise all 10-30 translators have to do it for themselves. Not very efficient.

Cheers
Heinrich


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:10
Member (2004)
English to Italian
PowerPoint files... Nov 5, 2006

Use TagEditor. The result is pretty good and doesn't require a lot of manual intervention afterwards (some enlargement of the boxes or reduction of the point size). It usually takes me about 10 minutes. In the case of a large file, with many slides, I charge on an hourly rate. Yes, it's boring, but if you are paid for it, it's ok.

Giovanni


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:10
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
DTP is optional Nov 5, 2006

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
When a client asks you to translate material, do you also do some DTP to keep the target document looking like the source document?


The important thing is that the client know which parts of the target document aligns with which parts of the source document. Sometimes this "alignment" is not important at all, but sometimes a document contains so much formatting that unless you follow the same formatting, your client won't be the wiser and would be forced to hire a second translator to mark up the text.

Many CAT tools have the ability to maintain formatting, and that certainly is a bonus. And most word processing programs can do various degrees of formatting. But any formatting which is more complex than a word processor can do, is IMO not the translator's job (unless asked).

If you want to lay down some rule, how about this: the translator can be expected to retain such formatting as can be added inline, while typing. This includes font changes, and excludes positioning.

As far as I know, DTP is not really part of the tasks of a translator - DTP should be done by DTP people.


But DTP done by DTP people who don't speak or understand the language, can be a nightmare. Better to produce a document in a clearly understandable format so that you don't get too many queries or formatting errors at checking time.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:10
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Agree with Giovanni, in principle Nov 5, 2006

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:
Use TagEditor (for PowerPoint files). The result is pretty good and doesn't require a lot of manual intervention afterwards (some enlargement of the boxes or reduction of the point size).


I agree with the principle that using a CAT tool that is capable of dealing with formatted text and various problematic formats (such as PowerPoint) can be a boon. If you can't afford TagEditor, well, PowerPoint files can also be handled with relative ease by Wordfast (cheap) and OmegaT (free).


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:10
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Copying content from PDF Nov 5, 2006

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
As it happens often with pdf from a dtp-application, when copying to Word the content gets mixed up a lot.


Yes, if you copy all in one go. But if you're dealing with small documents (less than, say, 10 pages) you can copy sections of text individually and so keep the text all together.

If you're using Acrobat Reader, click the little arrow next to the TEXT-icon and select the other option (something like "copy columns). Then you can copy a block of text even if there is text to the left and right of it.

I use it all the time (my PDFs are usually one page long, but I get about 10 of them a day (from the same couple of clients every week), and it enables me to use CAT, which makes me between 3 and 10 times faster).

The translations I send back aren't formatted at all, but I do put blank lines between paragraphs and sometimes telegraph style instructions to the DTP artist about where the text goes. You win clients if their DTP people are happy and insist on you, even if the text you deliver is utterly formatless.


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Cherepanov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 06:10
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Word files Nov 5, 2006

Sometimes I translate biochemical protocols, where there is a strict page layout. As a Russian text is usually 10 to 15 % longer than the original English one, I spend quite a while to reduce font size and make word divisions in proper places (this is allowable in Russian and Ukrainian, and I have to use this option to fit the content of narrow table coloumns).
I did not charge for this in the past. Would it be appropriate to charge for this additional job per hour in addition to my usual rates per word for translating, or it would be better to charge more per word?
TIA


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Dyran Altenburg  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Different job, different rate Nov 5, 2006

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
When a client asks you to translate material, do you also do some DTP to keep the target document looking like the source document?


I do DTP at the tune of US$50/hour (plus translation fees, of course).

--
Dyran


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 06:10
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
I know that Nov 5, 2006

Samuel Murray wrote:


If you're using Acrobat Reader, click the little arrow next to the TEXT-icon and select the other option (something like "copy columns). Then you can copy a block of text even if there is text to the left and right of it.

I use it all the time (my PDFs are usually one page long, but I get about 10 of them a day (from the same couple of clients every week), and it enables me to use CAT, which makes me between 3 and 10 times faster).



Thats my point. If I have to do that I charge for the work by the hour. Last week I had a 47 page pdf in three columns and even additional text in the margins. You would get crazy to pick that piece by piece into Word and check, if really everything is in the right order.
Let's try and educate our customers. And the only argument they understand is money.

cheers
Heinrich


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:10
Flemish to English
+ ...
Going rates Nov 5, 2006

Dyran Altenburg wrote:


I do DTP at the tune of US$50/hour (plus translation fees, of course).

--
Dyran


Are these the going rates for DTP. I have some dtp programmes, but don't find time to learn them. Should I find time, I would like to know how much to charge.
Perhaps by the hour+number of translated words.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:10
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Wholeheartedly agree - funny :D but true Nov 6, 2006

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

Let's try and educate our customers. And the only argument they understand is money.

Heinrich


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