Don’t Get Tagged in Translation

Clients look for quality, that is something irrefutable and that we have to comply with. But, in order to provide a quality job, we need to start from the beginning, and that is the source content we are going to translate.

Despite there are several aspects to consider, today I want to focus on content to be processed with the help of technology provided within a translation environment. That is, we have to make sure our source content is suitable for our CAT Tool. This is something our clients also have to be aware of. Providing a quality source will almost guarantee a quality outcome. But, what do we mean when talking about a good quality source?

We can’t leave it all in the hands of our clients, sometimes, we have to put in the work, and go the extra mile in order to make a document suitable for translation. It is both desirable and every translator’s dream to work with an impeccable source. But sometimes –putting myself in our clients’ shoes–, they have no way of providing a clean, CAT Tool-suitable source. In today’s “portable format” world, clients usually and easily get PDF documents which they hand over as input for the translation process. However, translators will usually get editable formats like Microsoft Word instead. If the document in question is a converted file from a PDF, then we know for sure there’s previous work to be done before uploading the file to the CAT Tool.

At Trusted Translations, we like to split that preparation in two different steps: Pre-DTP and Pre-Editing. We have to be aware of the possible mistakes in the source when we work on extracted text after a Pre-DTP has been performed. This is why Pre-Editing is a key step when making sure that the converted version is well suited for the task at hand. It involves checking for misspellings, accurate use of punctuation marks, the document’s general format, and so on. Even text that has been copied from a webpage and pasted on a word document requires some work. Otherwise we are going to end up with the most dreaded feature of a CAT Tool translation: Tags!

Tags are somewhat like cholesterol and lipoproteins. Some are good and useful, but in large amounts they are simply evil molecules that will do nothing but damaging our work/blood flow, stressing us out, and getting our blood pressure to the roof. “Good tags” are those which create our format, that is, bold lettering, italics, superscripts, etc. The other kind, are tags that appear on our uploaded source and have no business being there. These “bad tags” are normally the result of copied/pasted text, as well as converted text. They don’t add to format. They only make it more complex! They are simply there because our source file was uploaded with format errors. But don’t worry, this can be fixed. All we need is a good Pre-Editing, and just by modifying the font in our source, we can get rid of those annoying bugs and get on with our work.

So, ask your client for a good quality source (remind them it is in their best interest). But if this is not possible, offer to add a Pre-Editing step to make sure that you are using a clean file and not getting tagged in the translation process.