Office, PDF, InDesign

We can make each other’s lives easier.

In most organizations, documents will circulate either in Microsoft Office formats (such as .docx, .xlsx, .pptx) or as PDF files. Information intended for publication will often be available in the format of a DTP or layout program — and the name of the program today is almost always Adobe InDesign. — Web pages and database files are special cases.

There is probably not all that much to say about Microsoft Office formats. One thing worth mentioning is that the old .doc, .xls, .ppt file formats, obsolete since 2006, should be avoided, as they are insecure and provide popular entry points for computer viruses or other uncouth creatures. Many Word files created by non-experts contain unstructured formatting; we will often replace these files with our own formats.

Despite what software evangelists have been trying to tell you for many years, PDF files are not editable files that can be further processed, such as translated. Think of them as printouts on paper. Expert features usually produce unusable mumbo-jumbo with unwanted formatting artifacts. PDF files to be translated must always be converted to editable Word files first, with positioning information for the layout person. These Word files are then translated and delivered in this easil-to-understand format — never as PDF files.

Nowadays, documents intended for publication are often laid out in in Adobe InDesign once they have passed the manuscript stage. This is the document in the form in the client wants it translated.

Now translators are not usually layout or DTP experts; that is not what they are hired for. InDesign is a significant investment – not so much in terms of the – admittedly expensive – software itself, but more in terms of its complex features and capabilities and the resulting learning curve, which usually requires the services of a professional DTP person.

As a result, many translators and translation companies do not own or work with InDesign. This means that the client has to manually copy the various scattered pieces of text from the InDesign file into a Word or text file and return them there once the translation has been delivered. This process is error-prone, often loses markups, and is a lot of extra work.

Of course, clients want to be able to send out texts with a finished InDesign layout directly for translation, with no time-consuming detours.

This is exactly what Triacom offers.

As long as a few simple conditions are met (see box), we can usually process your InDesign files directly. However, “directly” does not mean that the translation is entered into InDesign itself; that would take far too long and would prevent translators from using their many re­search, quality control, and terminology control tools — and the result could be a poor translation. Rather, what we do is convert the original InDesign .indd file to an intermediate format (.idml), translate that, load the result back into InDesign, and make the necessary adjustments within your existing approved layout. These adjustments typically include reworking fields, tables and frames to accommodate the translated text, which in many languages will be longer than the English text (for example, English text tends to “expand” by 10 to 20 percent when translated into German). End-of-line hyphenation will also often need to be fixed, and some visual adjustment of line control, especially in the case of headings, may also be advisable.

With a little skill and preparation, all of this can be done within the original layout. The result is then saved as an .indd file and delivered to the client.

Incidentally, if you create the artwork for your publi­cations in Adobe Illustrator, we can often work directly with that as well.

The layout person should not have to do much more than to add some professional artistic flair.

If the client is not using the latest version of InDesign, we can provide backward--compatible .idml files instead.

Websites are a different — and highly complex — matter.
Direct contact between the translator and the responsible IT technician or web designer is highly recommended.
While we can work directly with HTML files and many XML files, further processing often requires more than smply replacing text in one language with text in another.