PDFs are meant to be end-of-the-road files, not editable evolving documents. Despite this fact, translators often are handed PDF files and told “translate this”. As much as you’d love to say “translate it yourself, buddy,” there are many scenarios where PDF translation is a must. If you have direct access to the client, I would recommend asking if there is a version of the file that is NOT PDF. But in most cases, you don’t have much recourse. The first thing to do in those cases is determine whether you have a “live” (created from a Word document or something of that sort) or “dead” (originating from a scanned document) PDF. Then you have a couple options: for live PDFs, you can convert the file to a Doc using either a PDF to Doc converter (such as the one in Fluency) or use one of the many freely available tools to extract and translate the text and send it back for the client for reformatting. For “dead” PDFs, you really only have one option: Optical Character Recognition.
None of these options are great. Often, just extracting the text and relying on the client to reformat is not acceptable to the client. PDF to Doc conversion is an imperfect science and has led many translators to charge extra for these types of translations. And then you have the dreaded OCR scenario… Fluency is one of the only tools on the market that will do anything with these types of files and the only tool that does it locally to your computer. Fluency’s built in OCR technology does a good job for your basic scanned documents in about 20 languages but only retains text, not formatting. If you need to retain formatting from the scanned document, Fluency provides an interface where you can do that. For automatic format retention, you will need other software such as Abbyy FineReader which you would need to purchase separately. And even in the ideal conditions, OCR is even more of a black art than PDF to Doc conversion and will often require significant proofreading.
With that in mind, we here at Western Standard recently realized that we could help the translator/LSP out even more. While providing OCR technology in Fluency is going above and beyond the scope of most every translation tool, OCR is not your bread and butter. While in many cases you might be able to raise the rates on these types of documents, often the process is not as streamlined. You either don’t have professional OCR software for format retention like Abbyy, you aren’t familiar with the OCR tools, or you just don’t like the time and effort it takes to produce the source document that you then have to translate.
Western Standard has two divisions – translation technology and publishing. We have been in the business of electronic publishing for well over a decade now working with World Book Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, and others. In this area, we have significant experience and abilities in OCR technology and services. We have processes that make OCR processing much more streamlined and affordable. In that light, we decided that we could offer our services to any translator/company that has OCR projects and would like them done professionally, quickly, and at a reasonable cost. If you have any interest in these types of services, please contact us at email@example.com.