How to Avoid and Fix Overlapping Text in Automatically Translated PDFs


PDF is not an easy format to work with. Although it is easy to read and share, editing a PDF document is a challenge. There are expensive PDF editors available but they are not always necessary. If you just want to translate your document, an automatic PDF translator does the job easily for you. Advanced PDF translators can translate the text and create a new file for the translation.

It is nice when you have the translated text and all the visual elements in the original alignment, and the new file looks like the original PDF file. Unfortunately, the translated text may not fit into the area of the original text. Then the readability may be impaired.

It is a fact that languages differ from each others in terms of length. For example ‘bil’, ‘auto’ and ‘macchina´ refer to the same vehicle in different languages. There doesn’t seem to be any statistics stating the real relationship between the lengths of languages. The rule of thumb in software localization is that there should be 30-50% extra space available for the translation. (However, even that amount of space might not be enough for all cases.)

Avoid overlapping text: The best way to guarantee best translation quality with a PDF translator is to make sure that the original document has enough white space around the text. A loose layout is always a reader-friendly solution also without any intention to translate the document. Prefer using a single column layout and wide margins.

Fix overlapping text: Even if you can’t edit the original document, you can fix the overlapping text in the translated document. Some PDF translation tools enable saving the translated text also into other formats than PDF. If you choose a format that can be opened with a word processing program (like .doc, .docx or .rtf), you can edit the translation easily. Then the fixed document can be saved as a PDF file.

Automatic PDF translation is the easiest way to read foreign language documents. Overlapping lines are rare but not unusual when documents are machine translated. Luckily, these two methods help to solve most of them.