If you work in translation, you probably already know the answer to this question. Still, the options can be intimidating if you don’t. Legal Service Translation LST broken down the most common formats for translations into the pros and cons of each option to help you choose which one is right for your next translation project. The most common formats for translation. (1.) Word document with pictures (2.) TXT (3.) PDF.


There are three standard formats for translations.

Word, PDF, and TXT. Word is by far and away from the most common format for translations. PDF is also popular, although not as much as a word. TXT has been gaining popularity, but it’s hard to be sure how many people use it over word or pdf. If you’re unsure which common format for translation you should use, your best bet is to send your document in PDF first and then do a follow-up email asking them if they prefer Word or TXT. If they say they don’t have any preference, keep sending them PDF files until they ask you to stop doing that!


Importance Of Formats For Translations

Suppose you want to deliver your translated content. In that case, there are two things that you need to do: formatting and post-translation editing. The formatting aspect is all about taking your translated content and making it look presentable as an item in itself. At the same time, post-translation editing ensures that there aren’t any glaring errors or omissions in what was written.

But how do you keep track of all these different formatting options available to you when it comes to translations? That’s where we come in. We’ve gone through all of these numerous common formats for translation and come up with our top three. There will probably be more, but some formats don’t have enough value compared to others.


Common format number 1 – Word document with pictures

The biggest advantage of word documents with pictures is their high readability. It’s easier to understand foreign language information when some images or drawings go along with it. Word documents have several different text color schemes, which makes translating slightly more difficult because you need to know exactly what each color represents in order to translate it correctly.

Word documents can be in either .doc or .docx format. The difference between them is simply one of appearance, not function (the x format tends to look better). Try using Google Docs or Microsoft Office Online if you don’t have these on your computer.


Common format number 2 – TXT (Text File)

Translators work with TXT files regularly. TXT files can be in any encoding (or code page). Most text editors do not recognize special characters, so they need to be encoded correctly before they can be used in any project. However, because there is no standard encoding type, translators often have to use one of many different encoders to convert a file from one format to another and make it readable.


Common format number 3 – PDF (Portable Document Format)

This is common format for translation because it’s simple, widely supported, and doesn’t need any special software to open. In contrast, you can use any PDF reader to view it. However, suppose you want others to be able to edit or annotate your document. In that case, you need a PDF version 2.0 (or later) and Adobe Acrobat.

As a bonus, PDFs don’t lose quality when printing (like Microsoft Word). You can also store multiple pages into one file without losing information and make changes quickly without re-saving everything each time. Even better? If you share documents online with customers or colleagues, they don’t have access to special software either – use Google Docs.


Each format has pros and cons.

Each common format for translation has its pros and cons, and there’s no one-size-fits-all rule. Suppose you’re interested in offering just one service, such as HTML or PDF versions of your translated work. In that case, you can choose only to accept those. Alternatively, you can be more open-minded. For example, English isn’t everyone’s first language.

Sometimes non-native speakers need to have content translated back into their native language—or parts of it—so they can fully understand what they’re reading (such as foreign policy statements). Therefore, including some nontraditional options makes sense. One thing is certain: All translators should be able to provide you with different file types when needed.


The Bottom Line

There’s no right or wrong answer to what common format for translation you choose. It depends on your subject matter, intended use, and other factors. But if you’re unsure which format to go with, get in touch with your translator and ask their opinion! You don’t want to finish a great project only to find that it’s unusable because of an unexpected file type.

Also, keep in mind that files containing photos may require special attention by translators due to licensing concerns and other issues. What works best for one LST translator might not work as well for another. Be sure to discuss those details upfront with your translator so there aren’t any surprises down the road.