Skip to content

Tags in Translation

Tags in translation and how they are relevant to the process

At Quicksilver Translate we use CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools. This means our translators are not working on the Word or InDesign files you submit to us. Instead, your files are imported into our CAT software, and the translators work within this platform — which contains numerous tools to help them work faster and smarter! When we import your text, it’s not just the words that are imported, but also the formatting. Tags, in translation, represent individual formatting commands.

Text formatting includes simple commands like ‘bold’ or ‘italic’, as well as more complex commands, such as text variables, cross-references and automated indexes. If the original document has been professionally formatted using style sheets — paragraph styles + nested/grep styles (InDesign) or using the styles pane (Word) — these styles will also be imported as tags. Each formatting command is represented by a single, colour-coded tag. And these tags, or formatting commands, surround the relevant word, phrase or paragraph in the text for translation.

The translator will maintain the position of the tags as they translate — putting them in the corresponding place in the target language. When we export the translation back into Word or InDesign, the formatting also exports correctly. That is, titles will be titles, bold text will be bold, and the correct words will be highlighted, etc. Usually this is a pretty straight-forward process, and something experienced translators are very accustomed to managing.

Drowning in tags!

But sometimes problems do occur. OCR text, or text that has been edited many times or formatted manually, can import with an excessive amount of, often redundant, tags. For example, let’s suppose you set up your document with paragraph styles (headers, subheads and body). Later, changes were made. However, rather than applying a different style, the user merely added/removed the bold and increased/decreased the size manually. This can result in multiple, over-written tags — ie. a Body (regular 10 pt) style has been applied = two tags, and then a manual change to ‘bold’ + ’14 pt’ has also been applied = four tags. Furthermore, adjustments to letter spacing (kerning) can even result in tags between every word!

Example of excessive tags in the translation environment

Often these “manual” formatting changes can’t been seen — even with hidden characters shown. However, you can be sure that each and every tag will be imported into the translation platform! This is a problem for translators because it makes the text very hard to read — see the example above! Can you make sense of it?

When facing copy with multiple tags, it becomes difficult for the translator to concentrate. And they can end-up losing their flow while writing (because translation is also writing and paraphrasing). This results in considerable extra time being spent in the review stage, or worse, a suboptimal end result.

How to avoid redundant tags in copy for translation

If the document has been edited or updated, it’s a good habit to check your styles have been applied correctly before submitting the document for translation. For new documents, either apply stylesheets, or apply a general font, with simple bold/italic as required. The translator can then focus on accuracy and style, rather than struggling through cluttered sequences of tags.

It worth noting that any typographic adjustments your designer makes may not even be needed, or appropriate, in the target language.

DTP service

We offer an in-house DTP service, where our specialist will assess your files and format them correctly for translation. Post-translation, we check all the tags have been correctly repositioned (and not over-written). At this time, we can also make any necessary adjustments to the spacing, to ensure the new translated copy fits neatly into the original layout.

Find out more: Maximise your Translation ROI by integrating Design/DTP

Related Posts