Inconsistencies in the Word Count

The translation of a document can have many complexities. When quoting a document for translation, it is necessary to take into account several aspects that can influence the detailed analysis of the file. First, it is necessary to determine the type of text, whether it is a technical manual, a press release, a newspaper article or a literary document. This factor affects the time needed to translate the file. It is also important to know what kind of format the document is delivered in from the client and which format is expected in the delivery from the translation agency (if it is a file from MS Word, MS Excel, Adobe Indesign or Quark) since the quote may increase or decrease depending on what format the file is received in, if conversions are necessary, etc. Of course, the translation of a file in Word is much cheaper than an Indesign file, since the latter requires arrangements in the formatting that require the attention of specialists in Desktop Publishing.

However, the most important factor when quoting a file will always be the total number of words that a file has. Therefore, it is essential to be absolutely precise about the word count of a file, since there is no room for differences. Any differences in the amount of words can lead to differences in the amount owed.

A common problem that usually arises when analyzing a file is the word count for manuals in MS Word. In general, these technical manuals are documents that include several image files, designs, graphics, etc., that make the manual itself heavier than normal. Generally, these are very large files (sometimes exceeding 50 MB), which make the task of analyzing very difficult using the basic tools of a translation agency.

In these cases, it is quite common, when analyzing the file using word count from Word, for the client to note that the manual has a certain amount of words. However, when quoting, in translation agencies there may be some inconsistencies. It is likely that, when examining the file with Trados, the difference between the initial count when analyzed in Word is substantial. For example, a Word file that shows a count of 30,000 words, may have a word count that exceeds 100,000 in Trados. This may be due to several factors: hidden text that Trados does not address, problems with tags, with images. But we must be careful, as this substantial difference can mean a difference of thousands of dollars.

One thing that may be helpful in solving this problem is to convert the file to Rich Text Format (.rtf). If the original file is .docx (Word version of Office 2007), it is best to “downgrade” it to .doc or .rtf, which reduces the size of the file and makes it easier to analyze it in Trados. For the word count is accurate, the file(s) should in all cases be converted to .rtf, as this allows Trados to analyze in the best way possible (because in analyzing the Word, Trados previously makes an .rtf version. For this reason, if we convert the Word to .rtf, we are saving a step for Trados, which allows the file to be analyzed better).

This is an interesting tip that may help solve the problems of inconsistencies in the word counts.

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