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Translator Tools Newsletter #43: TransTools+ v.2 released featuring new Pre-flight Checker tool

June 24, 2023

Welcome to the 43rd edition of Translator Tools Newsletter. In this newsletter, I would like to introduce TransTools+ version 2 which includes a new tool for Microsoft Word called Pre-flight Checker.

Pre-flight Checker — quickly check a Word document for issues before translation in a CAT tool or delivery to the customer

I am sure you will agree with the following: it’s always a good idea to check a Word document before translating it in a CAT tool or sending the translated version to the customer. As you are getting ready to import a Word document into your CAT tool, it is important to check and fix a number of things: incorrect breaks in the middle of sentences, tab characters between words being used instead of spaces, excessive tags, extra spaces that reduce leverage from your translation memories, etc. If these issues are discovered after the document has been imported into the CAT tool and prepared for translation or, worse, translated to a certain point, you will spend extra time re-importing / re-translating the document or working around these issues in the translated document. Once a document has been exported from the CAT tool, it is equally important to check it for potential issues — misalignment of text near tab characters, presence of hidden text or color-highlighted text which was not present in the original document, partly invisible text in table rows, excessive spaces which look unprofessional, etc.

The new tool called Pre-flight Checker finds and corrects various common issues in Word documents before translation or customer delivery. At this time, the tool identifies 10 different types of formatting issues that are common in translation projects and which may need to be addressed before you start translation or before you submit the translated document to the customer.

Here is a screenshot of the results provided by Pre-flight Checker tool after checking one particular Word document before translation:

List of issues found by Pre-flight Checker
List of issues found by Pre-flight Checker

Here, you can see a number of potential issues found in the document: 1) tab characters, 2) color-highlighted text, 3) paragraphs having font, font size or font color variations, and 4) potentially false tables of contents. Let’s go over these issues and correct our document.

The first section called “Tab characters” displays tab characters that occur between words. There are two main difficulties associated with tab characters:

  1. Normally, tab characters are used to position text at a certain distance from the edge of the document. For example, you will find tab characters inside sections that look like tables but without borders. When the document is translated, however, the text before the tab characters will usually shrink or expand and the columns in this make-shift table will become misaligned. So, it is highly recommended to check final documents and make sure that there is no misalignment near tab characters.
  2. In Word documents converted from PDF files, tab characters may be used instead of spaces. This causes 2 issues:

    1. Visually, tab characters create large gaps between words or make words appear as if there is no space between them, which makes the document look sloppy and unprofessional. At the very least, you must fix this before sending the translated document to the customer.
    2. Most CAT tools handle tab characters in one of two ways — display them as tags (e.g. this is the default behavior in memoQ) or break text into segments at these tab characters (e.g. this happens in Phrase). Therefore, these tab characters must be corrected before you import the document into your CAT tool.

Pre-flight Checker displays tab characters between words as follows:

List of tab characters between words

In the Description column, Pre-flight Checker identifies these tab characters as “Tab character between words”. It suggests to replace them with spaces (see “Change To” column), but the checkbox in the “Correct?” column (1st column) is deactivated so that the issue is ignored during document correction unless you activate the checkbox. This makes sure that you thoroughly check the results and avoid replacing valid tab characters. When you select the issue in the list, the corresponding place in the document will become selected, making it easier to understand what to do with the issue:

Document text containing an invalid tab character

Looking at the document text it’s clear that the tab character must be replaced with a space. So we can activate the checkbox in order for Pre-flight Checker to replace this tab character with a space. Pre-flight Checker will perform this correction when you click Process Selected Issues button after finishing the review of the found issues.

The second section of results called “Highlighted text” displays information about color highlighting found in the document:

Color highlighting found in the document

Color highlighting may be used by the client to identify text which must be translated or ignored during translation, and it may also be applied by your team during translation/editing, so it makes sense to check for color highlighting before translation or delivery.

By default, Pre-flight Checker does not provide a list of all color-highlighted text in the document, but you can see it by clicking Click Here to View Highlighted Text button or by configuring the tool to display this list by default. If you want to clear the highlight colors from the entire document, select Clear Highlighting action under “Apply the following action to all highlighted text”:

Selecting Clear Highlighting action to clear color highlighting

The third section called “Paragraphs having font, font size or font color variations” displays paragraphs that have variations in the type of font, font size, or font color. An example of such formatting variations is when the whole paragraph uses Times New Roman font, size 10 and Automatic color, but several words use size 11. Such formatting variations in the same paragraph cause excessive tags in your CAT tool and sometimes are a sign of missing line breaks in the document. It’s very rare for someone to use several different font sizes, colors or types of fonts in the same paragraph, and it usually happens inside documents converted from PDF files or when people copy-paste text around the same document. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to make this formatting consistent (“normalize” this formatting) unless this was the intent of the document author.

List of inconsistently formatted paragraphs
List of paragraphs that have formatting variations

Looking at the first issue, we can see from the Description that there are 2 different font sizes in the paragraph and the recommended action is to “normalize” the font size, i.e. apply a single font size to the entire paragraph. To get more information about formatting variations in this paragraph, you can hover the mouse cursor over the Paragraph Text column to see a tooltip:

Tooltip displaying formatting variations

The tooltip shows that the first paragraph has 2 different font sizes — size 7 and size 7.5. When the issue is selected in the list, the corresponding place in the document is selected:

Inconsistently formatted paragraph selected in the document

Looking at this paragraph, we can immediately see that we need to insert a paragraph break between the first part (the capitalized text which has a slightly smaller font size) and the second part. You must insert this break manually.

The fourth section called “Potentially false tables of contents” displays tables of contents which may need to be converted to editable text because they were converted to tables of contents by a PDF converter by mistake. Tables of contents are special areas which are generated by Word automatically, and CAT tools cannot translate them. So, unless you convert such tables of contents to editable text before importing into the CAT tool, you will not be able to translate them.

Potentially false tables of contents

You can see that Pre-flight Checker recommends to convert this table of contents into text. The checkbox in the Correct? column is deactivated so that no correction is performed unless you activate the checkbox. Selecting the issue in the list selects the corresponding place in the document, making it clear that this is indeed text which must be translated and not an automatically generated table of contents:

Table of contents selected in the document

We will check the checkbox in order to convert this table of contents to editable text.

Once you have reviewed all the found issues in each section and activated/deactivated the checkboxes in the Correct? (first) column, click Process Selected Issues button to perform corrections across the document:

Click Process Selected Issues button to correct the document

You will see a message telling you how many issues were corrected:

Report about corrected issues

The above has demonstrated some of the common issues in source documents and how to fix them before translating the document in the CAT tool. It is also highly recommended to check translated Word documents after you export them from your CAT tool. Here is a list of common issues which Pre-flight Checker will help you identify and fix before document delivery to the customer:

  1. Partly invisible text in table rows:
    Some source documents contain table rows that have fixed height or minimum height. Fixed-height rows do not expand if the translated text does not fit inside the cells, so the translation may become partly invisible. Pre-flight Checker allows you to find such rows and assign automatic or minimum height to them so that the text is fully visible.
    Fixed-height table rows
  2. Hidden text: If you marked any text as hidden text in order to skip it during translation in your CAT tool, you should not forget to unhide it after translation. Pre-flight Checker will warn you about hidden text so you can take the appropriate action.
  3. Tab characters: as mentioned above, text near tab characters often becomes misaligned as a result of translation, so you should check this before delivery.
  4. Excessive spaces: inconsistent spacing looks unprofessional, so it is recommended to check spacing in the final document. Remember that QA checks in your CAT tool do not fix all spacing issues: for example, double spaces between sentences or excessive spaces before/after paragraphs will not be visible in your CAT tool because CAT tools ignore spaces which are between segments.

For more information about the types of issues that Pre-flight Checker can detect and correct, see Issues identified and corrected by Pre-flight Checker section in Pre-flight Checker’s online documentation.

Pre-flight Checker uses profiles as a way to specify which checks must be performed and with what settings. You can create any number of profiles for checking documents, e.g. one profile for checking the most serious issues and another profile to identify all possible issues. You can configure the settings of these profiles differently. For your convenience, Pre-flight Checker comes with 2 built-in profiles which contain recommended settings for the most common scenarios: 1) “Before CAT tool import” (to catch potential issues before translation), 2) “Before delivery” (to catch issues before submitting the document to the customer).

In the future, Pre-flight Checker will be updated with additional checks. For example, it will detect errors in Word fields (e.g. “Error! Bookmark not defined”)— a common issue in Word documents which may occur both in source documents and after translation. Another planned feature is removal of invalid paragraph/line breaks in the middle of sentences: this feature is already available as part of Unbreaker tool included in TransTools, but using it from inside Pre-flight Checker will help you save time. Wait for these and other features to be announced in future newsletters.

For more information about Pre-flight Checker, consult its documentation.

TransTools+ version 2

Pre-flight Checker has been added in TransTools+ version 2. This is a new version of TransTools+ which includes all the tools from TransTools+ version 1 with the addition of the new Pre-flight Checker tool. In the future, all new features will be added to TransTools+ version 2 while version 1 will be updated with bug fixes.

To install TransTools+ v.2, download the installation program from the Download page (make sure to download from inside “Version 2” section).
If you have already installed TransTools+ version 1, you can install Version 2 without uninstalling Version 1.
The two versions cannot be used side-by-side. So, by installing version 2 you will no longer be able to use version 1. However, version 2 and version 1 are compatible with each other so all your lists and settings will continue to work in version 1 if you decide to downgrade back to version 1.

If you already have a license for TransTools+ v.1, you will need to obtain a new license for TransTools+ v.2. Registered TransTools+ users should have received an email containing a discount coupon for TransTools+ v.2. Those who purchased TransTools+ v.1 recently (since December 1, 2022) should have received an email containing a license for v.2. Let me know in case you have not received any of these emails.

If you are satisfied with the current feature set of TransTools+ version 1, there is no need to upgrade to version 2. TransTools+ version 1 will continue to be updated with bug fixes for some time, however new features will be added in TransTools+ v.2 only.

Other updates in TransTools+

There have been a number of bug fixes as well as stability and user experience improvements in TransTools+. You can see the full list of updates on TransTools+ Version History page. For those of you who would like to stay with version 1 of TransTools+ rather than upgrade to TransTools+ v.2, you can update your version to version 1.10 which contains these improvements. Update to the latest version of TransTools+ v.1 here.

I hope you have found this information useful. See you in future newsletters. To stay up to date on TransTools+, TransTools suite and Forget-me-not, don’t forget to subscribe to Translator Tools social channels on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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