DTP for translation

5 August 2021

Corrupted files, misaligned tables, missing fonts, translation errors: these are just a few examples of what a project manager may deal with when deadline is approaching and translated file should be delivered to a customer. If we had to briefly define DTP for translation, we would say that it is used to prevent all the above issues.

One of the main tasks of a DTP specialist is preparing files for translation. This step should always precede translation. File preparation is a fundamental activity and should be considered in the project schedule. Even in the most urgent project, even when file preparation might seem a waste of time that you can’t afford, remember that investing time in this preliminary step will help you save a lot of time after translation.

File preparation

Preparing files for translation is the initial step that will allow the CAT tool to correctly process the files to be translated. Let’s start with the basics. Not all file formats are supported by CAT tools and, if they are not, a DTP specialist will have to convert them into the supported file types. InDesign files, for instance, must be converted into .idml format to be processed by the CAT tool Trados Studio. This conversion cannot always be done by project managers in a translation agency because it is very unlikely that they have DTP programs (or their latest version).

Before converting files into a suitable format, the DTP specialist will carry out some fundamental checks, assessing them on a case-by-case basis, according to file format and project specifications. This analysis is performed during the file preparation phase.

4 tips for preparing a file for translation

In our experience we identified some generic checks which are common to most file formats and which should be absolutely done during the file preparation phase. We listed them below. Please note that this is a non-comprehensive checklist, since, as mentioned above, the preparation steps will have to be adapted according to the files and to customer’s requests.

Here are some tips:

  • search for and remove extra spaces and hard returns that break sentences. Hard returns can have a negative impact on the translation output because, when a sentence is broken, a CAT tool will hardly recognise it in the translation memory or, even worse, the translator may misinterpret it, providing a wrong translation.
  • Check that tables are correctly formatted.
  • Analyse and prepare images: check if there are non-editable images that contain text that cannot be extracted for translation by a CAT tool. In this case the DTP specialist will extract the text from the images and will provide the project manager with the relative files for translation.
  • Tags: we already described what a tag is in our glossary. A tag is an element which contains information related to font formatting (such as bold or italics) or to document structure (e.g. cross-references or untranslatable text).

Once the DTP expert has prepared the file, taking care of identifying and preventing potential issues, it will be processed by a CAT tool and a translator will be able to work on a clean and well-segmented file. After translation, the file will go back to the DTP specialist who will work on the final layout (on more complex files or file formats) or just take care of the proofreading. No surprises, no glitches.

If you are still not sure about the importance of outsourcing file preparation in the translation process, give us a text and we’ll show you how we can help you optimise your files!

Scritto da Giacomo Broccoli

Giacomo has been working for Editha for 3 years, mainly dealing with all aspects concerning pre and post translation DTP, preferably using Indesign and Illustrator. He loves learning about codes and scripts: HTML, regular expressions and Java (in progress...). Give him a problem and he'll give you 2!
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