5 Questions You Should Ask If You Have Problems With Automatic PDF Translation

This article is originally published at translation-blog.multilizer.com.

In a previous post we listed some challenges that PDF translators have to deal with. This post can be used as a check list if there are some issues when translating PDF documents automatically. Without further ado, here is a list of questions you should consider if you have any problems with automatic PDF translation:

1) Does your PDF file consist of text or images?

Sometimes PDF files have a lot of images in them. PDF translators cannot read text within any image or charts. However there usually is no problems with finding the actual text. This thing can be easily tested by selecting some piece of text. If you can copy any piece of text from the PDF document and paste it to word, for example, then the PDF translator should be able to translate it too.

2) Is you PDF file a scanned document?

PDF translators are not able to identify any text in a scanned file because those kinds of documents are like one huge image.

3) Is your PDF file written with special or less common font?

It can be that even if your PDF document is a high-quality file with “real” text in it, the file won’t be translated correctly. In this case the most probably reason is that the text is written with some special font. Some of the fonts are encoded in a complicated way in the PDF format and thus PDF translators don’t understand the text so that it could translate it. If you try to copy and paste the text it can become a bunch of strange characters in word. If this happens, you can most likely blame the font.

4) Is your PDF file secured or locked?

Some PDF documents are secured by the one who has created the file. This means that you cannot select any piece of text in the file and it cannot be translated automatically either. The owner has copyright and he has the right to secure his creation.

5) Is your PDF translator able to preserve layout and images?

If your PDF translator gives you a translation only as a plain text file, there’s probably nothing wrong with your file. The issue is most likely related to the PDF translator and its features. Some PDF translators are able to just translate the text and to produce a plain text file with the translation. More advanced PDF translators have an ability to create translated documents with same the layout and featured items (like images, charts and tables) as the original document. If the layout is important in understanding your documents, you should pay attention to the characteristics of the automatic translator.

These are the most common problems with automatic PDF translations. For more information read also our previous post about the challenges of PDF translators.

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