Pre-DTP and Handling PDF Conversions

Previously, we’ve talked about how the different steps of DTP are quoted, but let’s have a specific look at how the preparation of some files takes place.

Most of the time, clients will require the translation of files which are not readily editable. Since more than a decade ago, these have been scanned or photocopied documents (a common practice for legal translations). However, with the ever increasing prevalence of smartphones, a cell phone photograph saved in PDF or JPG format, is not uncommon. As our intention is to use CAT tools as much as possible, for various reasons that are greatly beneficial,  our first concern is how these source formats can be made editable (e.g., converted into any MS Office format or even into plain text).

Some clients, for example, often send in photographs of receipts. If the initial quality in PDF format is OK (meaning: very legible and clearly marked tables), we can use a program such as Solid or ABBYY to convert the file, and by selecting the tables we want to group together, the conversion will most likely come out alright. It will undoubtedly require some tweaking, also known as “pre-editing” as we call it, before it is uploaded into our CAT tool, so that any missing text can be filled in, and specific words or numbers corrected. Running MS Word’s spellcheck is really helpful at this stage too.

If the scanned PDF’s quality is not too great, and some words and numbers are barely legible or maybe even handwritten, as is the case with medical prescriptions, our best bet will then be to recreate the entire image, which consequently saves time and money. How do we do this? Tables are created in MS Word mirroring the format of our source files. Subsequently, the linguist transcribes into the recreated Word file before uploading it to the CAT tool or translates directly into the file. For the latter, unfortunately, no leverage from a Translation Memory can be obtained.