Package Insert 37
Interesting facts and figures for customers and partners of mt-g.
June 2016
Tips from our specialists
Optimising source documents for translation – Part 4: Formatting and layout
In the last part of our series 'Optimising source documents for translation', we will be giving you a few tips to use for formatting and laying out your source documents to get the translation process off to the best possible start.

Consistent formatting
Formatting within a text is now an inescapable fact of life for an editor. Hardly any document will fail to contain italicised words, not to mention boldface – adding emphasis is often important, sometimes even mandatory. When the text is edited, this formatting may well cross word boundaries, spaces or line breaks. Besides content matching, CAT tools also take into consideration the formatting of the source and target texts and suggest this formatting to the translator during the translation process. It may be that these suggestions are not adopted correctly and rectifying them takes time at the post-production stage. Therefore, do check whether the formatting in your text stops in the desired places.
Besides the textual demarcation of some types of formatting, its consistent use also plays a part. Take a look at the purpose behind your various uses of emphasis and check whether they have been applied consistently throughout the document. The same goes for style sheets – if these are used consistently, avoidable costs can be eliminated because your hits will appear as 100% matches and not, for example, as more expensive fuzzy matches.

Spaces and tabs
Your documents not only contain word formatting but are also structured using indents, spaces and tabs. The latter two share an uneasy relationship because an indent is frequently created with multiple spaces even though a single press on the tab key would have achieved the same goal. In the translation process, it is not so much the lack of efficiency of the first method that is the problem but rather the way in which CAT tools read such sentences. These programmes calculate from full stop to full stop – in other words, always capture one 'sentence' and its character. If the sentence structured with spaces is input, the CAT tool will display all the spaces that were inserted manually. This might be manageable if there are only two or three spaces but over 30 might start making life difficult for the translator – as the translator was not involved in the document creation process, he/she will not be able to gauge whether or not spaces can be deleted. If in doubt, he/she will leave the spaces in the target text.
Do also use the automated list options offered by your programme for numbering and bullets. CAT tools recognise these list patterns and treat them as 100% matches if they appear several times in the document.

Hyphenation
For splitting words, an optional hyphen or automatic hyphenation is available to hyphenate uniformly throughout the source document. Once again, it all comes down to the detail: if different hyphens are used to split words, the result will be avoidable fuzzy matches. A dash and a hyphen might look the same on the surface but, technically, they are two different symbols and CAT tools differentiate between them. A radical way of getting around this topic is to dispense with hyphenation altogether. This is a very widespread practice and can, in some circumstances, save time and money.

The more consistently and systematically formatting is used in the source document, the greater the likelihood of creating a sound basis for good matches in future projects. If you are unsure about how to prepare your source documents, please do not hesitate to contact our project management at any time. We will be only too pleased to help you.
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