We’re covering some strategies to speed up your entire translation process and a few pitfalls to avoid, especially why you shouldn’t send text for translation in the body of an email. Rush translation projects come up quite often and a customer’s first intuition is to just get the text to the translation service provider as quickly as possible.

With a little proper planning and some work on the front end, you can ensure a smooth workflow and a really quick turnaround on the back end of your project.

Clarity of scope
Receiving a chunk of text in an email versus receiving formatted text in a file leaves a lot of room for interpretation in terms of how the translated content should be returned. This is very important when handling complex languages with unfamiliar characters or right-to-left languages like Hebrew and Arabic. If your translation service provider simply provides you a block of unformatted text for a complex translation that needs to be cut and paste into another file format, you will likely introduce errors.

Lost opportunity
Providing a formatted source file or whatever the final format might be will save you time on the back end of the project. This also includes software formats like java properties files (.props), portable object files (.po) and many other popular software and web formats.

Translation service providers use tools that allow for proper parsing of many popular file types like Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe InDesign, Office applications (Word, PowerPoint, Excel) and many others. Providing the source file will allow for the delivery of a final formatted file so you can publish or release your project immediately after completion without any additional work.

Dangers of cutting and pasting
Building on the previous points, if you do not provide a source file you will be forced into extracting the content from the source file and providing this content to your translation provider. They will likely build some sort of interim file format, typically a two column table in MS Word.

Upon completion, you will need to cut and paste the content back into your final file format. This process is mind-numbingly boring, time-consuming and opens the whole process up to errors.

Lost formatting
Since this process involves transitioning text in and out of a final file format, you will likely lose some formatting and special functionality. Here are some of the more popular pitfalls:

  • Insertion of non-breaking spaces
  • Hard returns
  • Loss of hyperlinks

These issues can be avoided by asking your translation provider to work in the source files.

Ownership of the document
As a general rule, it’s always best for the customer to retain control of the source document. If you simply send a block of text you lose all control on how your project will be handled as described in the previous points. If you send a source file with strict instructions to follow the source formatting, you leave little room for error on the final look of the file.

Potential memory loss
One of the most important opportunities for savings when it comes to language services is the proper upkeep of the translation memory database. If you ask your translation service provider to handle a block of text they can cut and paste into a text file, MS word file or a host of other text editors. Depending on how they handle the content, they could introduce tags (due to formatting, font and font size, etc.) that may not match up with how the content is handled on the very next job.

In order to fully capitalize on the benefits of translation memory technology, the source content has to be presented in a similar fashion and in a similar file format. If the format changes, you risk degrading perfectly identical content from a 100% match (which should lead to the complete elimination of the cost associated with that sentence) down to a fuzzy or imperfect match which will carry some cost so the translator can properly apply the tags that differ from the previous version.

If you provide proper source files for all of your translation projects you will reduce your cost, increase consistency and reduce your timelines.

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