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How Are Different File Formats Processed for Translation?

Nowadays a wide variety of file formats exist. Depending on the complexity of the translation project we are undertaking, there may be different file formats we will need to work with. Some of these file types include graphics, HTML, fonts, spreadsheets, etc. These are just some of the possible formats, and it is worth mentioning that each requires a different type of processing when being translated. Obviously, in these situations, we tend to ask ourselves what we need to know about the general ways to process these files, or any other piece of practical information to help us start translating or localizing them.

Although linguists can work with any format the client sends to them, it is true that the translation process can vary greatly depending on the type of file you are working with. Below are five of the most common types of files and how to process them.

1. Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word documents are a good example of files that are generally easy to process. They can be worked on without encountering any major problems. The file is processed just as it is received using a translation tool. When cleaning it, we will obtain an identical file, but in the target language. Sometimes, when the file contains tables, images, embedded elements, or complex pages, one needs to go through a DTP stage, which will take more processing time.

2. Graphics

With regard to image files or graphics, there are some steps that need to be taken before starting the translation. When image files are in PSD format, they sometimes contain editable text and can easily be processed. In general, however, the graphics are impossible to edit. In these cases we must recreate the image from scratch, adding the text in the target language.

3. Microsoft PowerPoint Presentations

These presentations themselves can contain elements such as graphics or tables, in which case the same rule as mentioned in the previous example applies. When the PowerPoint elements are editable, we can do all this work using a computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool. It is important to find out if the presentation includes presenter notes and to consult with the client whether they would like the notes to be included in the translation or not.

4. Executable Files

Program files with a .exe extension require a high level of processing for translation due to their complexity. A positive factor is that CAT tools are beginning to accept and process .exe files, thus making their processing much easier.

5. HTML and XML for Websites

When files extracted from a website are part of a content management system (CMS), it is most likely that XML files will be needed in order to transfer their translatable content. With XML files, it is necessary to know if the client can give more specific information about what content needs to be filtered and transferred.

HTML files themselves can be processed quite quickly. In the case of a CMS, the translation process takes a little longer because it is not as easy to import and export files. The final revision will also be faster when we are processing separate HTML files, because the translated version can be rendered immediately. With a CMS, we have to allow extra time to integrate the translation back into the system before the translated file can be produced.

One must take into account that the client does not always know what the best format to send in a translation is. This makes communication with the client before starting the project of utmost importance. That is, it is preferable to ask all relevant questions before starting the project.