Practical aspects of a translator's work

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  • May, 2013
  • Uses of Adobe Acrobat XI (part 1)

    Adobe is well-known for its free PDF readers, software that enables you to open, view and print out “portable document format” files on any software platform whatsoever, not just on Windows. In their current reader, Adobe® Reader® XI, it’s also possible for users to highlight words, phrases or whole passages and add annotations, all of which are important functions for reviewers of texts.

    If you want to create a Word®, Excel® or RTF file from a PDF document you’ve received from a customer, for example, Adobe® Reader® XI will also allow you to do this automatically, albeit at a charge:

    exporting from PDF to Word or Excel in Reader

    This is achieved by using Adobe’s Web-based services, which you need to sign up for beforehand (the lowest rate was $19.99 per year at the time of writing, which seems quite reasonable). Once you’ve registered and bought a suitable subscription, you can export your PDFs conveniently from inside Reader® and the document you want to export it to will be sent to you soon after by Adobe.

    Another way of doing it is to buy Acrobat® XI Pro from Adobe, which is basically Reader® XI’s big brother. Acrobat® allows you to export the PDF file you’ve opened to other formats using its own resources and do so at no extra charge. It costs a lot more, mind you, so you ought to weigh up the pros and cons of a purchase first of all. If you already have an old copy of Adobe® Acrobat®, you can upgrade to version XI at a special reduced rate until the end of May, I was recently informed.

    Acrobat® is nonetheless an interesting proposition for translators and reviewers (aka “proof-readers” and “copy-editors”). First and foremost, it can generate various kinds of Microsoft® Office® documents from PDF files:

    - Word® 2003/2010

    - Excel® 2003/2010

    - PowerPoint® 2003/2010

       as well as

    - HTML

    - RTF and

    - TXT (which is obviously only text-based).

    When I recently upgraded from Acrobat® 8 to Acrobat® XI, I was amazed to see how much the PDF > Word export had improved. The optical character recognition (OCR) worked very well on my documents and the page layout in Word® was also excellent, which meant I was able to import and start translating it very quickly.

    Besides producing high-quality exports, Acrobat® also makes reviewing PDF documents relatively easy: just click on the word “Comment” on the far right and a panel of editing features (“annotations”) will appear:

    Acrobat's "Comments" panel

    Here are some of the options that a reviewer is likely to need:

    - add sticky note

    - highlight text

    - add note to replace text

    - strike through.

    If you click on “Tools” in the same menu, this will open another panel that allows you to edit the text and images in the PDF file:

    Select “Edit Text and Images” and then the text will be divided into sections with a line around them, each of which can be edited directly – no annotations this time, but direct changes. Admittedly, this option isn’t one that I’ve needed yet, but if a customer ever wants a PDF brochure to be checked and edited particularly quickly, skipping the DTP edits, then this would be a way of doing it.

    In part 2 of this post, I'll take a closer look at the OCR feature in Reader® and Acrobat®.


    images: my own screen shots


  • Book review: "memoQ 6 in Quick Steps"

    memoQ 6 in Quick StepsEarlier this year, an American colleague of mine, Kevin Lossner, published an e-book on memoQ, a CAT tool that has been around for a number of years and is developing at a break-neck pace. I read the book as soon as it came out and found it to be well-written, interesting and, most of all, helpful (which is what you'd expect a guide like this to be, but isn't necessarily the case). Well, I liked it – his way of presenting the material is a good one: using short-but-clear explanations with lots of screen shots to make the outlines and instructions easy to follow.

    The book is around 200 pages long, so it goes into some detail, covering a wide variety of situations that memoQ users are likely to encounter in their daily translation work using the current version of the CAT tool (v6):

    • Initially, Kevin describes how to install memoQ correctly and set up memoQ projects that include TMs, term bases and other useful language resources such as LiveDocs corpora (= reference material). Setting up a spelling checker and rules for segmentation, auto-translation and auto-correction are also discussed. Covering these basic points was a wise idea because they affect how smoothly and accurately you can translate once you get started.

    • We then come to the essential topic of preparing source files for translation and pre-translating them automatically in memoQ. Good file preparation can reduce the number of tags that appear in a file after importing it into memoQ, but it can also protect sensitive formatting information by turning it into non-deletable tags (using the Regex Tagger) as long as the file is in memoQ. The next section discusses how to import and translate specific file formats: PDF, HTML, XML, bilinguals DOCs/RTFs, TTX, (SDL)XLIFF and other CAT-tool formats, plus Microsoft Office files containing embedded tables created using a different Microsoft application (e.g. Excel charts imported into Word).

    • Kevin also looks at internal quality-assurance checks and various ways of exporting translations and comments to file formats that external reviewers can check, edit and return for easy re-importing into memoQ (see the sections on collaboration and delivery). After this, the translation can be finalised and sent off to the customer.

    • Having finished an assignment, the translator may want to edit his/her term bases and TMs or align source and target texts in LiveDocs. These areas are covered in respective sections on managing resources.

    So as you can see, the author has tackled memoQ's entire workflow from a practical viewpoint. (Congratulations on doing it so clearly and succinctly, Kevin.) This is a sound compendium of practical information that ought to be of value to anyone who uses version 6 (and probably the next version as well, "memoQ 2013").

    Copies of the e-book are currently available via

    P.S. Kevin also writes posts of his own on his excellent blog, Translation Tribulations.


    image: courtesy of Kevin Lossner


  • Welcome to my blog

    an international blog by ATS

    Dear readers,

    Thanks for taking the time to look at my blog. I'm a British translator and editor and am going to be writing here about a variety of subjects concerned with what I do at Amper Translation Service, a small agency I run that is based in South Germany: 

    • translation and editing work

    • the tools I use (particularly software)

    • the other resources that help me in my work

    • training for translators

    • and various other topics related to what I do.

    typing blog postsIt's going to be a broad mixture of things: business topics, using technology, training events, book and product reviews, news and current affairs.

    I hope you enjoy the read and comment on my posts from time to time – I'd like to hear what you have to say. Feel free to reply in German or English.



    P.S. To find out more about me, take a look at my website or view my profile on LinkedIn.

    images: map © Thorben Wengert / PIXELIO, keyboard:



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