Preparing PowerPoint slides for translation

Sometimes, we are commissioned to translate Microsoft Powerpoint presentations. Usually, customers don’t realise that translating texts used in such a presentation may not be enough. Differences between particular languages come to light causing some more or less serious issues.

Let me explain that based on an example. Let’s have a look at this slide:

This is the original version. Everything seems to be just fine. The customer delivers the text for translation, we upload it to a CAT tool and translate, then export it, and send the finished version back to them. The customer opens the file and a problem emerges, as the translation looks like this:

Exactly. This is a classic example of huge differences in character count and word count between English and Polish. Everything is messed up, the text at the top overlaps the image, and text in navy blue is so long that it doesn’t fit the slide (the translation in full is far longer than the source text: “Pamiętajcie, aby zawsze zgłaszać wszystkie obawy związane z politykami firmy specjaliście ds. zgodności z przepisami o godz. 15:00 lub na koniec zmiany, w zależności od tego, który z tych momentów wypada wcześniej”). Another problem is the lack of Polish diacritical characters in some of the fonts used here – the characters are there, but from a different font, which does not look good.

This is an extreme example, as it comprises English terms or phrases such as “insider training” or “whichever is earlier” that do not have their counterparts in Polish, and due to that they need to be described rather than translated. However, similar situations occur on a daily basis.

The example above shows that apart from the translation, such tasks require a fair amount of additional work to adjust the layout – the images, fonts, placement, text size, etc. This is particularly important when translating presentations or PDF documents, where we are expected to maintain the original layout and design of the source materials.

The part of work aimed at adjusting the layout of the document is out of the scope of a translation job, so some customers decide to do that on their own, while others prefer to pay extra for this additional work to be done for them. This work is really arduous and time-consuming, and I hope that after reading this more people will appreciate it.

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