What your clients want you to do

One of my clients recently sent these tips to their translators, and I think they can be useful to most of us.

  • Be honest. If in doubt, say No.If you are not sure if you can meet the deadline or can take on the job, please be honest and say “No” or ask for more time before you accept it. Asking for an extension after the project has started will cause us many problems.
  • If we don’t give you a clear written confirmation, a Project Number and a Purchase Order, do NOT start working.POs include all the details for the project, such as schedule, agreed cost, list of files to translate and instructions. You can only invoice us for the amount included in this form, so you must ensure that you read the PO and agree with all details listed there before you start working on the project.
  • Please do not be afraid to ask!We are always happy to help you in any way we can and you should always clarify any queries you may have. If we don’t know the answer, we will ask our clients.
  • Instructions should always be followed.We always analyse the client’s requirements in detail before we start any project and prepare a list of instructions for our translators. These instructions are included in the confirmation e-mail, as well as in the documentation for the project, and are aimed at helping you during the translation process. It is essential that you always follow them. If you don’t, we may need to ask you to re-do your work.
  • Reference documentation should always be used.We always try to get as much reference documentation, definitions and background information as we can from our clients. It is vital that you read and understand these before you complete your translation. This will also cut down on finalisation time.
  • Check before delivering!Please always check your work very carefully before delivering it to us. We will send back any work that contains issues. This also applies to running a an automatic (as well as manual) spell check before you send any work to us. Translations with spelling mistakes are not acceptable.
  • If the quality of the translation you need to proof-read is bad, please tell us before you start working.Always provide examples of issues and we will look into them and decide what to do. Please remember that you cannot charge us more for extra work, unless we approve the additional costs before you start!
  • Improve it if you can!By proof-reading we mean not only correcting purely linguistic issues, but also every other aspect of a translation. We expect you to check: accuracy, spelling, grammar, style, consistency, formatting , terminology, appropriateness for the target audience, etc . By checking we mean not only spotting the mistakes or aspects that could be improved, but also amending them directly in the translation so we have a finalised text. If there is anything you can translate better, please change it!
  • Mark what you change and give feedback.It is always useful for us to know what our proof-readers change in translations. Therefore, when proof-reading a translation in Word, please use Track Changes feature, and when working in Excel simply highlight the cell with changes with a different background colour (no need to mark every single word unless we ask you to).

    If we need detailed comments on the changes, we will ask you for them and we will tell you where you can insert them.

    Please always avoid using the strikethrough feature as it is as time consuming for us to finalise the text, as it is for you to use this feature.

    We always encourage our proof-readers to send us feedback on the translations. Do not be afraid to give us your opinion, we will appreciate it!

  • If a change does not improve the translation, don’t apply it!Be critical when finalising a translation after our client’s review. Always check if the changes they have requested are correct or improve the translation before you apply them. If  not, please do not apply the change and insert a note explaining why.

My comments:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask, but think before you do it. Our clients like when we ask for clarifications, as it shows we’re paying attention to the project, but silly or absurd questions may show you don’t know the subject in hand or you don’t know what you’re doing, which is really bad for you.
  • When you give feedback, be as professional and objective as possible. Support your changes and comments with links and quotes from dictionaries, grammars and other references.
  • Improve the text, if you can, but don’t make unnecessary changes just to “show you’re working”. Sometimes the translation is good before it reaches you. In this case, praise the translator. 😉

Which tool is the best?

I’ve heard this question several times: “Which CAT tool is the best?”

Although I’ve been using only memoQ for over one year now, I believe the best tool (in general, not just for translation) is the one that better fits both you and the occasion. You don’t use (or should not use) a screwdriver as a hammer. Likewise, every file format requires a proper tool.

Before using memoQ I used Wordfast for quite a while, and it served me perfectly well. I just migrated to memoQ when I started to receive projects in formats other than .doc, which Wordfast handles well. It’s also ok with .xls spreadsheets and .ppt presentations, but it’s not unusual for Wordfast to get confused with these files, and then you’ll have a problem.

memoQ, on the other hand, handles well many file formats. Therefore, it was essential for me to change my translation tool if I wanted to keep translating those different file formats. No regrets whatsoever so far, since I currently receive really few .doc files.

If you work only with .doc files, Wordfast is the cheaper and most logical option. And will serve you very well.

Another thing to consider is the learning curve. The best tool for you is the one you feel confortable with. You know its shortcuts, commands and features; it improves your productivity. CAT tools aren’t that difficult to figure out, but I know some colleagues who struggle with them, especially their shortcuts. My hint for the first days with a new tool: print a shortcut list (program Help section usually has it) and leave it beside the keyboard. It helps a lot!

In short: there is no such a thing as ONE better tool. There’s a better tool for you to use in that particular project. You should be familiar with more than one tool. A few tricks to convert files among them are also a handy resource in a translator’s toolbox. That way you can cover more job possibilities on a daily basis.

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