Translation of PDF files

I am occasionally asked to translate a PDF file. This usually is not as straightforward as working from a Word file. A PDF file has been made specifically to read and to print, not to edit.

However, this doesn’t mean that a PDF file cannot be translated. The information below will help me as a translator but also you as customer to proceed as efficiently as possible.

If you have a PDF file you want translated, there are two possibilities: either you also have the source file (the file used to create the PDF), or you do not.

You have a source file

If the source file of the PDF file is a Word file, then send me the Word file. I can then work directly within it and return a translated Word file to you.

Perhaps the PDF file was made using a package such as FrameMaker or InDesign. You might think that because I don’t own these packages, I am unable to translate the files they generate. However, a small change by your DTP specialist can create a file that I can handle directly. Five minutes of work by your DTP specialist means hours saved in the long run.

Example of a scanned PDF file

The returned translated file can be loaded directly into your package and at most the layout will need to be modified to accomodate the different text length. Since I have excellent knowledge of the software I use, I can save you hours that you would otherwise have to spend copying and pasting translated text from Word to the software you are using.

You do not have a source file

Sometimes the original source file is unavailable, because the file’s origin is unclear or because you are dealing with scanned pages. The question becomes: to what extent would you like to retain the layout of the original file?

If the layout is not important, I will translate the PDF file manually in Word, with very little layout.

However, if the layout is important, I can come up with a solution. This, of course, will entail extra costs (how much depends on the complexity of the layout), but it saves you the layout work afterwards.


In short, even though a PDF file can complicate the process, I can deal with it and save you a lot of time. Feel free to ask my advice on how best to proceed.

Would you like more information?