September 29, 2014

Easy Way of Translating PDF on Mac

One of the banes of translation is certainly dealing with PDF. Introduced in the early 1990s, it was mainly used as means of prepress proofing. Containing information on its text formatting and inline image, the file format is intended to display the file properly without requiring the receiver to have any desktop publishing software, and not meant to be edited. Its convenience and popularity, however, gave rise to clueless client, and agencies, sending PDF files to be translated.
Back in my Windows days, my favorite tool in handling PDF is Iceni's Infix PDF Editor. It's a cool program that lets you edit PDF file directly, making it easy to correct typos. And in addition to editing PDF, Infix also makes it easy to translate PDF while retaining its original layout. Another good news is, especially for Mac translator, like yours truly, Iceni now has Mac version of Infix.

Try it out for free

Iceni offers free trial of Infix PDF Editor for Mac. After the download is completed, double click the DMG, then drag the application icon to the Applications folder.

Oddly enough, the installation looks a lot like its Windows sibling. It turned out that Iceni ported its Windows version of Infix and equipped it with CrossOver in the Mac version.

Translating a true PDF

There are two types of PDF files:
  • True PDF that is produced from an application, e.g., desktop publishing, word processor, etc. The easy way to spot this type of PDF is you can select and copy, if it is not locked, the text directly.
  • Scanned PDF that is generated from scanned hard copy. The text in the scanned PDF cannot be selected as it is actually a raster graphic.
Assuming we are working with a true PDF, preparing the file for translation is very simple:
  1. Open the PDF in Infix.

  2. Eliminate line breaks. To ensure smooth translation process, I suggest eliminating undesirable line breaks first before exporting the PDF:
    • Reveal the text boxes by going to Document - Translate - Mark Text Boxes for Export. Revealing the text boxes makes it easy to select the boxes in the next step.

    • Connect columns to make sure smooth text flow by going to Tools - Text Connect Tool, then just select the columns based on their sequence. Click on empty area when you have finished connecting the columns.

    • Check the text flow by going to Tools - Text Tool, then click the connected columns.

    • Remove line breaks. Usually all the line breaks between columns will be gone automatically when you connect them. If you do find line break, however, just click on the break and delete it.

  3. Export it to text/XML by going to Document - Translate - Export. Infix has the ability to export PDF file as marked-up text or XML. I find the XML to be a better option as it does not require extra preparation associated with the text file and is supported by many CAT tools, including the popular ones, such as SDL Trados, memoQ, Wordfast Pro, and OmegaT. If you're using CAT tool that requires marked-up text, e.g., Wordfast Classic, you can read a tutorial by Lamensdorf on preparing the text file for translation. After the export, you will be asked to save the PDF.

  4. Import the text/XML back to Infix by going to Document - Translate - Import, after finishing the translation. Select the correct target language to ensure correct hyphenation.

  5. Check the PDF quality with Flightcheck, if the document is meant for printing, by going to File - Flightcheck, correct the problems, if any, then save it.

You can watch the complete PDF translation process of from file preparation, line break elimination, export, translation, to import in the video, produced by Iceni, below:

Please note: although the review is intended to get a free license for Infix PDF Editor, I have tried the program for production and was impressed with the result.
Free to Learn Guide by Hal Plotkin, used as example, is licensed under CC BY 3.0.
Photo by Uncalno Tekno is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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