In this final section of our 3 part blog on Writing Translation Friendly content, we elaborate on other aspects of making a text easier to understand and translate, like correct usage of Formatting and CAT tools
Most of the times, formatting is one aspect that easily slips out of consideration. But if the files are really large and formatting is messy, the translator may have to spend almost 50% of his/her time on getting it right. And the unpredictable extra time spent on formatting during or after translation will either push your delivery time ahead or hamper the ultimate quality of the end product that is handed over to you.
Take care that re-formatting will not be necessary for your documents. To ensure this, certain precautions can be taken. Do not put too much make-up on your document. But do acquaint yourself with the formatting options available in your editing software, to make the best use of it.
Pointers to remember:
- A lot of time is saved if the files for translation are editable i.e. in Word, Excel etc. rather than PDFs or scanned image files. This way, the effort of re-creating all the formatting is saved. Also, editable files can be translated using Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) software which is much faster and accurate when it comes to formatting since it easily copies the exact formatting in to the target document.
- Avoid complicated formatting styles, uncommon fonts, uncommon colour shades, etc. Simple formatting will make document editing easy.
- Keep styles uniform and consistent. The various levels of headings, the body text, image headings, table headings, tabular text and all other such categories should follow uniform formatting styles. e.g.
- Headings, e.g.:Main topic heading: font size-14
- Sub-headings: font size-12
- Sub-point headings: font size-11
- Body text: font size-10
- Image headings - all in italics
- Table headings - all in italics
- Take special care of the automatically defined fields such as – numbering, text levels, the numbering of images and tables, page numbers etc. Familiarize yourself with the fields that you can insert and make sure that they are properly defined. It is possible that a certain link somewhere in the document will lose its link while translating or editing. Find and fix such broken links, otherwise, they may disturb the entire numbering system in the document.
- Hyperlinks and cross references are other delicate issues which need attention and must be properly defined.
- Formula applied in Excel sheets as well as other cross references should be carefully defined
- Embedded objects in PPTs can also be challenging. You may either insert them after you receive the final translated file or inform the translator about the links that he/she should retain.
Delivering a translated file that is exactly like the original one is an essential quality constraint. The above precautions can help in conforming to this requirement.
In the world of Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) Tools, writing rules are slightly different than what we learned in composition classes. These tools play an incomparable role in making the translation process fast and ensuring maximum accuracy. But they work mathematically. So, technical documents can be designed in CAT tool-friendly manner, to get maximum benefits from it.
- Keep repetitions: Use the same terms and sentence to convey the same things. These will show as exact or 'fuzzy' matches in the CAT tool which will reduce on the cost and time of translation. Wherever minute changes are necessary, you may create new sentences for the new information while keeping the sentence with repetition as it is. This will preserve repetitions as well as keep the sentences short and easy.
- No synonyms: Using the same word for the same meaning will also ensure consistency in translation since the translator can look up in the memory for the previous translations used for the repeating terms.
- Consistent and simple formatting: CAT tools also consider formatting when finding matches. So make sure that the formatting of the repeated sentences is identical. Complicated formatting styles, automatically defined fields and values may get disturbed in occasional instances when the file is processed under CAT tools. This may need special care and attention.
- Always spellcheck: Spelling errors may hamper detection of matches and concordances. Not just for CAT tools but even for ensuring correct meanings of words, spellcheck is a must.
- Limit the file size: it is difficult and time consuming to process heavy files in CAT tools. This may, at times cause the processes to fail. If possible split your documents topic-wise. Do not include a very large number of images, screenshots, embedded objects etc. to limit the file size.
Looking at the growing need for translations, it is now a necessity that the processes, challenges, standards used in the translation industry, the available technological advancements as well as their limitations become known to a maximum number of people who may play a direct or indirect role in this process no matter how big or small. Crossing language barriers is inevitable for growth and development. And translation plays the key role in it. Let's take a step towards making it better and easier!
Written By Shweta Bhide and edited by Devaki Kunte
February 20, 2017
Language Services Bureau, Pune, India