Need some tips and suggestions on how to make your next translation project go faster, smoother, and easier? Here are seven suggestions:

  1. When possible, always send softcopy (native file formats), not PDF or scanned hardcopy versions. Remember, in translation, we are literally overtyping the text in your documents into a different language, whether in the native file or in a translation tool. Only have a PDF? First, click on “File”, “Properties”, “Description” and you will usually see the original native file format. Someone, somewhere has that file! If time permits, it is better to try to obtain it because it will cost you less and take a much shorter time to deliver your translation.
  2. Are your documents ship worthy? Did you spell and grammar check your files one last time? Are there still unaccepted changes? Any inserted comments not yet deleted? It is good practice to send only clean, validated files to any third-party vendor. Don’t leave it to chance that they will “accept all changes” or make other assumptions. What if there is a misunderstanding and a resulting mistranslation happens regarding key information? Will you have any idea after the fact, when your Chinese, Haitian Creole or Russian files come back to you?
  3. Avoid using long file names as de facto file management systems:
    Not good:
    “ICFpharmacogenetic_dated_9-23-16_Can’trememberwhichsitesbutpossiblyDr.BrownVersion 7Aapproved_labelstofollownextweekcheckwithsponsorafterlunch.doc”


    Yes, we’re being a little bit snarky here, but you might be surprised at the very long and confusing file names that we sometimes receive! In general, brevity is better.

  4. Use numbers at the start of file names as an easy way to reference multiple documents  Why? If there are many files with closely-resembling names, it can be very confusing when this is then multiplied by a factor of X forwards languages (and then X English back translations on top of that).

    Instead of this typical file naming:


    Try this method instead:


    This way, when communicating during the project, you can say “We received Chinese files 01-03, I just need number 04, please”, or “We need to send replacement English files for nos. 01 and 04.” There will be much less chance of misunderstanding or delay on both sides.

  5. Send only final document versions, not draft versions. Do you have a non-IRB approved Assent File that you’re in a hurry to have translated? Want to send it for translation ahead of time, thinking that the translator can apply any changes to the approved version afterwards? Resist this urge! It is playing with fire. The chances are that somewhere along the line, there will be an error or omission in your translations that may or may not go undetected.
  6. The same idea holds true for User Manuals where there is a software product or app involved. Do not send your supporting documentation for translation ahead of product release time, thinking that this will be a shortcut to beat the clock. Despite the time lag, usually it is much faster and safer to wait until the final software screen shots and terminology have been fully tested, validated, captured and approved.
  7. Avoid using email to send large file attachments. Most email systems have built-in size limits. If there is a 15-megabyte limit on file attachments (or less), and you’re trying to email an 18-megabyte Word file, you may or may not get the rejection notification until hours (or even days) later—meanwhile, you may have assumed your file was received and is being translated.  Not good! Instead, use a free tool like the DTS Online Portal or ShareFile to send files over, say, 10 MB or larger. New to the concept of the DTS Portal? We’d be happy to give you a very short demo at your convenience.

Do you have any other tips, suggestions or efficiency suggestions? Are you interested in learning more about the DTS Portal? Please send us a message and let us know (!