Your project is a bit behind, and you’re not sure you’ll meet the deadline. A good idea just cross your mind: why not to start with the translation? You’ll be able to finish your project while the translator is already working on the first part and you’ll save some time in the process. It may sound like a good idea, but it’s not. Here are insights from a professional to make sure your document is ready for translation.

Is your document ready for translationAs a professional translator, I worked on many different projects and I can tell right away when a document was not ready before it was sent out for translation.

Why are some documents not ready for translation?

Usually, when you get a MS Word document with Track Change activated and many changes here and there, pending for approval, you already know that your client was in a rush. You might also get some comments for the team members that worked to prepare the document. Even worse, you can sometimes see questions or problems that are still waiting for a solution. You can see that the issue raised is still there in the document. In this case, you have no other choice than calling your client to ask for instructions, and unfortunately, it delays the project.

Launching the translation before the finalization of the document is another common mistake. Then, the translator gets some calls like “I hope you haven’t reached the page XX yet because we have an important update to integrate.” It is the worst thing a translator can expect. The translation project is split in small bits, it becomes very hard to harmonize all the different parts, it is a big loss of time… and money. Instead of translating in one go, the translator goes back and forth and s/he needs some more time to harmonize everything in the end.

If the document is an InDesign project, the translator sometimes finds some items left on the workspace. Then s/he doesn’t know whether s/he should translate it or leave it. Sometimes s/he translate when there is no need and again it is not advantageous for the client.

Checklist to be sure your documents are ready to be translated

Is your document ready for translationTo be sure your translation project will run smoothly, pay attention to the following checklist:

  • Give all your files at once (in a zipped folder) together with your instructions, glossaries, previous versions translated or anything that can be useful for the translator;

  • Check that there is no pending comments/questions;

    Avoid PDFs, always give an editable file, or you’ll be charged more for the conversion;

  • Check that there is no Track Change left waiting for approval;

  • Be sure to finalize the document before launching your translation project;

    Check that you don’t have any item left on the workspace that you don’t use in your layout;

  • Be sure to give one contact person only to answer the questions of the translator. If the contact person has to leave, be sure that s/he gives clear instructions to the one taking over.

Even if you’re in a rush, pay attention to these details. You’ll save some time and money in the process. Your translation project will be faster and run smoothly.

If you have some questions on how to prepare your translation project, get I touch! I’ll be happy to give you some advice and share my expertise, so that your project runs smoothly without delay. Find out more at