Our client asked us:

“We are going to attend a trade fair in a week. As a result, we need our advertisement materials to be quickly translated and printed. A few small sentences will have to be translated and the printed design prepared. Could you help us?”

More information

We get requests like this quite often. However, in order to determine if we can change the PDF file ourselves in addition to translating it, our designer first has to see the concrete PDF file. PDF documents can be categorised in three different types, depending on the way the file originated. That defines whether the content of the PDF can be accessed or whether it is “locked” in an image of the page.

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How we solved it

First type is “true PDF”, digitally created PDF: these files are created using software such as Microsoft Word, Excel or via “print” function within a software application. They consist of text and images. The images can be resized, moved or deleted.

Second type is “image-only”, scanned PDFs: upon scanning or converting camera image, jpg, tiff or screenshot into a PDF, the content is “locked” in a snapshot-like image.
Third time is searchable PDFs: such PDF files are almost indistinguishable for the original documents and are fully searchable. Text in these files can be selected, copied and marked up.

In this specific case, the client’s file was created digitally (the first type of PDF file) and we were able to supply both the additional translation and the design work.

The other very common file type that we work with is IDML. IDML files (.idml) are InDesign Markup Language documents which represent the objects and properties of an Adobe InDesign (.indd) file. We often translate manuals for machinery and equipment that have both text and images, and the majority of our clients send us this translation work as IDML files. We convert the text to files that can be processed by our translation programs and when we have finished our work, we send an IDML file also back to the client. In these cases, the client creates the final file – a PDF file with text and images.