Microsoft Word files are widespread and provide users with many options to optimize the translation workflow.
We often receive Microsoft Word files for translation that generate high additional costs due to the formatting of the translated documents. We will show you how to optimize them here.
Technical translation of Microsoft Word files
Complete service with translation and layout
We would be pleased to take over the entire layout for you. The related costs are shown in our quotes as a separate item.
However, we would like to explicitly state that Microsoft Word specifies the page break on the basis of the local print drivers. Furthermore, there are many options for automatic formatting in Microsoft Word that can change the appearance of a document.
This may lead to a file looking different if it is opened on different computers. In any case, the Microsoft Word file needs to be checked before printing or creating a PDF file.
If you would like to deal with as much of it as possible yourself in order to cut down external costs, you can also commission technical translation only. We then supply a pre-formatted Word file that you can finish off yourself.
The steps required for this can be found under Layout of translated Word documents. We assume that the scenario is as follows:
- The translation involves a single MS Word file
- Images are inserted into the Word file
- An automatically generated table of contents has been created
Depending on the type of document, you will find software-independent notes concerning document optimization in the relevant articles on our homepage.
Preparing MS Word documents for translation
General information about Microsoft Word
User training that is often lacking
Authors often lack the necessary knowledge of Microsoft Word files to use paragraph and character formats properly. As well as the usual checks that are carried out in FrameMaker and InDesign, it should therefore also be checked whether formats have been used at all.
Problematic OLE functions
Another problem is created by the Microsoft Word OLE function. In embedded files, it must always be checked whether the files contain additional invisible text.
With Microsoft Word files, more extensive checking is required before the start of translation in order to guarantee a smooth translation workflow.
As with the other programs, the control characters also need to be visible here.
Show control characters
In Microsoft Word, you can show the control characters using a button in the menu bar.
The screen changes in Microsoft Word accordingly:
The control characters in the screenshot above have the following meaning:
- First row indent
- Left indent
- Tabulator position
- Tabulator characters in the text
- Line break
- Paragraph break
Checking the Word file before translation
Manual formatting often takes place in Microsoft Word, i.e. manual formats such as font and type size, line spacing and indents are manually assigned to individual paragraphs and characters without using formats.
Standard paragraph format
This can usually be recognized from the fact that all paragraphs have the Standard format assigned to them.
Click in several paragraphs one after the other and examine the format name which is displayed in the menu bar at the top.
Effects on the translation
Manual formatting is not a problem in itself. The formats assigned here are also automatically assigned to the translated text.
However, in doing so you dispense with possible automated functions such as the automatic creation of a table of contents, the keeping together of images and their associated legends, tables and table titles etc.
Additional layout costs
In any case, you can reckon with higher layout costs for the layout of the translated text. When a document is being translated into several languages, you should consider whether to carry out structured basic formatting prior to translation for cost-saving purposes.
This applies in the same way as with Adobe FrameMaker.
We will show you how to improve formatting in the next section.
Use of style sheets and special characters in Microsoft Word files
Creating and using style sheets
Standard style sheets in Microsoft Word
With larger documents, it is also incredibly helpful to use paragraph formats in Microsoft Word files. The paragraph formats which are available for use in the document are shown in the paragraph format list:
Standard formats heading1 – heading3 are available for headings, and can be adapted to your own needs.
Furthermore, depending on the contents of the document you should define your own paragraph formats for lists, indented text, captions, table titles etc.
The following chapter shows how to do this based on the standard stylesheet:
Create style sheet
In the same way as enumeration formats in FrameMaker, you can also carry out the following formatting manually in Microsoft Word from the starting point of the “Standard” stylesheet.
Click on the small arrow as shown above with the cursor in the newly formatted paragraph.
Click on Create new style sheet in the following window.
The following window opens.
Enter a name for the new stylesheet in the Name field and then save by clicking on OK.
Microsoft Word now creates a new stylesheet with the settings of the current paragraph.
Using style sheets
Place the cursor in the paragraph to be formatted and then click on the format you would like to assign in the style sheet list.
Adapting style sheets for headers
A table of contents can be generated automatically from the standard formats for heading (heading1 – heading3).
You should therefore use these formats and adapt them according to your requirements:
- Assign the heading format to be adapted for a paragraph.
- Then adapt the format to your needs.
In the following, the heading 1 format was assigned to the current paragraph and manually adapted.
This numbering can now be transferred to all paragraphs formatted with heading 1 as follows:
- Search for the heading1 entry in the stylesheet list.
- Click on the arrow for the drop-down menu at the right-hand edge of the entry and select Update to adapt to the selection.
Use special characters
It is often desirable to keep certain character sequences in the same line.
This applies to figures with units (e.g. 8 kg) as well as fixed expressions such as Adobe InDesign.
If you do not want DIN EN 15038-1 to appear on two different lines, you can insert non-breaking spaces and hyphens.
You can add a non-breaking space with Ctrl+shift+space and a non-breaking hyphen with Ctrl+shift+-.
In a Microsoft Word file this will look as follows:
Advantage: these characters are retained during technical translation using CAT tools. You therefore no longer need to check all occurrences of such character sequences for unwanted wrapping after translation.
Optimum incorporation of images in Word files
Incorporation of language-neutral images
In Microsoft Word, graphics are inserted into the document and fixed. There is therefore no elegant and easy way to replace German screenshots with foreign-language screenshots like there is with FrameMaker or InDesign.
A helpful measure for reducing costs is to insert the file names of inserted screenshots into the Microsoft Word file above or below the screenshot itself. This then helps the translator with the assignment of target-language screenshots.
Alternatively, the screenshots can be inserted in the target language before translation.
Dimensioned drawings, schematic diagrams…
Graphics inserted in Microsoft Word should not contain any language information whatsoever. The CAT tool cannot extract texts from inserted images and these will not be translated.
Remove the text from the graphic completely and insert text boxes in the same location in Microsoft Word instead:
Optimizing embedded files (OLE) for translation
OLE = Object Linking and Embedding
If you embed a Microsoft Excel file into Microsoft Word as an OLE, then the entire file is embedded and not just the part of this file that is displayed in Word.
Display in Microsoft Word
An example: You see the following Microsoft Excel table in Microsoft Word:
Actual contained data
However, the Microsoft Excel table also includes the text shown in red
Text in the CAT tool
The entire content of the Microsoft Excel file is read into the CAT tool and is therefore also translated. There is no option to just import the displayed text.
Measures for reducing costs
Double-click on the embedded file in Microsoft Word and delete all content that is not displayed.
This also applies to drawing sheets that are not displayed which may be contained within Excel and Visio files.
Technical translation of Word files at PRODOC
Files required for technical translation
The Word file itself is required for importing into the CAT tool. We create the translation quotation on the basis of this import. Since almost anyone can view Word files – even if they only use the freely-available Open Office – the Microsoft Word file normally also serves as a display file for the translator.
If the Word file is bigger than 5MB, an additional file which does not exceed this size should be created for displaying the document:
PDF format can be used for this, since it can be created quickly, it is compact and it can be viewed by anyone using the freely-available Acrobat Reader.
If the file to be translated contains screenshots, these should be created before translation starts and given appropriate names.
Sending Word files to PRODOC
Word inserts all images completely into the document. This increases the size of the Word files and file sizes of greater than 5MB quickly result if several graphics are inserted.
Compress the Word file, the PDF file (if necessary) and the German and foreign-language screenshots into a ZIP file.
- If the ZIP file is smaller than 5MB, send it to us via email.
- If the ZIP file is bigger than 5MB, then please let us know without sending the file to us directly. We will then create a ShareFile user account for you via which we can exchange large files with you via a secure browser connection.
Receiving translated files from PRODOC
If you have commissioned us to carry out the entire layout, you will then receive a ZIP file from us via email or ShareFile which you simply need to unpack in a suitable location.
This contains the translated Word file and, if required, also a foreign-language PDF file which you can use directly.
If you have commissioned us to do translating only, you will only receive the Word file. You can find out how to generate a finished foreign-language file in the next section.
Layout of translated Microsoft Word files
Even if you have taken all the measures in advance in order to automate the layout of the translated text as far as possible, adjustments to the text and graphics are unavoidable due to differing text lengths.
The table of contents may also need to be updated and translations of OLE objects included.
Adapting the text flow
Adapting page breaks
Depending on the formatting settings and text lengths, the following may occur:
- Unwanted empty spaces
- Texts that belong together divided between two pages.
Adapt the page break in accordance with your requirements.
When doing this it is advisable to use the options for line and page breaks. These can be found by clicking the right mouse button in the current paragraph and select the Paragraph submenu.
Adjusting the line breaks
Even if the correct spellcheck dictionary is already selected after processing with the CAT tool, unwanted separations may have occurred due to selecting unsuitable separation specifications.
Examine the ends of the lines in the document and correct any unwanted separations. The following may occur:
|Line break errors||Remedy|
|Separation of numbers and units||Insert non-breaking separator (ctrl+shift+space)|
|Separation of two words which are connected with a hyphen||Insert non-breaking hyphen (ctrl+_)|
|Unwanted word separation||Insert hard line break (shift+enter)|
Adapt text boxes
If text boxes were used to label graphics they may be too small.
It will then look like this:
As you can see, you can’t see anything.
Microsoft Word has no professional display function for missing text, as is the case with FrameMaker and InDesign.
Instead, you must take great care to ensure that the end of paragraph character appears in all text boxes:
Even if you see the end of paragraph character, you should compare the translated text with the original because it is possible that there is another paragraph below the paragraph that is being displayed.
You need to manually replace every inserted screenshot with the foreign-language screenshot in Microsoft Word.
A naming system is therefore beneficial if the text contains many screenshots in order to prevent unnecessary searching and assignment problems.
How to replace a screenshot
Click on the screenshot in the Microsoft Word file and in the menu that appears click on Insert Picture.
Select the screenshot to be used in the Insert Picture window and insert it.
Replacing text in the original language
After exporting from the CAT tool, text in OLE objects, such as Excel or Visio files, remain in the original language.
Double-click on the object:
The view of the embedded object has now been updated and the translated text is displayed.
Close the object again to save the changes to the display in the Microsoft Word file. Repeat this process for all embedded files.
Table of contents
Displaying and updating the table of contents
After exporting from the CAT tool, there is normally no text where the table of contents should be.
Highlight the area where the table of contents should be:
Now press F9.
The table of contents is generated and displayed.