GTE Localize

10 Practical Answers to Document Translation Issues (Part 1)

Posted by Ariel D. on May 24, 2022.

Document translation is indispensable for any business, especially when you want to do it internationally or deal with oversea partners.

You may soon need your business contracts, legal papers, or reports translated into another language. And there will be a whole host of problems along the way, and if you are looking for an answer to them, you are in the right place!

This article will walk you through the practical answers to the most common 10 issues when translating business documents.

1. What Is The Appropriate File Format?

Many file formats can be used in different companies. Your documents can be in a Microsoft Docx, Google Dox, or PDF. Or you might go for some more advanced software like DocuSign (which offers eSignature), Docxpresso (which helps convert Office documents into web apps), etc.

So what is the best file format option for your document translation?

01 document translation format

The answer is there is no best file format. If you are translating documents in-house, let’s just go for the file type that your employees are already familiar with.

What about outsourced translation agencies? There’s also no specific best option.

Whether it’s in .doc or .docx, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .html or .htm, .xls or .xlsx, .ppt and .pptxm .indd, .tiff, professional document translation service providers like GTE Localize can deal with all.

As you can see, formats do not matter. However, we do recommend you work on your document localization process. It can save you a lot of time and effort if you skip the file-delivering part and let the translation service provider integrate with your documentation system.


2. Should We Correct Formatting of the Translated Text?

In document translation, you will need to work with a lot of text formatting, such as font, style (bold, underlined, italic, etc), size, color, etc. In fact, apart from the content of texts, such visual representation of the document is also crucial.

Thus, when localizing documents, you will also need to work on not only words themselves but also text formatting.

It seems as easy as cake, but is it? Should we just copy the exact original text formatting?

Although most of the time translators should do so, this is not always the case. In order to determine whether we should correct the formatting of the translated text, here are some things for us to consider:

  • Is the original text formatting appropriate for the audiences in the target language?

For example, if you want to translate for Arabic or Indian users, then your text alignment should be changed from right-to-left written language to right-to-left.

  • Are the keywords formatted appropriately in the target language?

For example, if the underlined term is one word in the original English version but two words in the translated version, you should ensure that the term in the target language is properly formatted.

So the bottom line here is that the translated document should be formatted suitably for the targeted users while remaining comparable to the original.

And the secret sauce lies in professional translation software which can “memorize” the formatting of the original text. Then translators can easily see which key phrases or terms need to be highlighted.

Based on that, they will emphasize those important terms by applying available formatting tags or formatting manually. Besides, all formatting that should stay consistent with the source document, such as font style or size, will be preserved.

At the end of the day, the text is formatted correctly when it exits the document translation program.


3. No Editable Format Available for Translation?

Another challenging issue related to file format is that there’s no way to count, search or edit texts in files. Or in other words, an editable format is unavailable. This frequently happens with bank statements, invoices, or other static files.

Our tip for dealing with these kinds of documents is to use the OCR (optical character recognition) tools which can basically help convert images into plain searchable and editable text files.

02 document translation ocr

Some advanced OCR tools can even digitize text formatting (bold, italic, etc), making document translation much easier.


4. How to Approach Document Translation Layout?

Different languages have different word lengths, which impact document layout. For example, compared to an English document, a Spanish text is expected to be 25-30% longer while a Finnish text is likely 30% shorter.

And sometimes, your space for text is not that flexible, for example when it comes to leaflets. So here are some recommended ways to approach layout in document translation:

  • Resize fonts;
  • Move graphics;
  • Place the graphics horizontally rather than vertically.

All in all, just like with text formatting, you should keep the layouts in the translated version similar to the original document while making necessary changes to fit the target audiences.


5. Can We Use the Same Font With the Document Translation?

The font is a part of the text formatting which we have discussed above. However, there’s one more notable issue related to fonts in document translation

A font that works in one language might not work in many others, mostly due to special characters.

03 document translation font

Here is a typical example. In many languages like Portuguese, Vietnamese, French, Polish, etc. accent is attached to letters, while there’s no diacritic point under or above characters in English.

If you have encountered any documents with font errors, you will surely understand how irritating it is to readers. And it’s a must to avoid such a mistake if you want your customer experience to be its best.

We might not be able to use the same font in our translated document. Tips from GTE Localize is to use basic or common fonts. Or if you want your text to look special with customized font, make it clear to the font artist that it should include special characters.


The above are the first 5 problems you might encounter, continue to find out the others in the next articles. And to avoid making these mistakes, GTE Localize is always ready to help as a reliable translation partner.

Contact us immediately to get the best offer and further advice about document translation!

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