Process of translation man overwhelmed with documentsDepending on the complexity of the project that you’re about to send through for localization, you might be swimming in a sea of file types. Graphics, HTML, fonts and spreadsheets are just a few possible ones, and each will entail slightly different steps during the process of translation.

Naturally, you might be wondering: What goes into localizing my specific files? What do I need to know about general processing times and other practical considerations?

While it’s true that we can work with just about any file format that you send our way, the process of translation shakes out a little bit differently depending on which files we are dealing with. From web pages to graphics, explore with us five common file types and what to expect with each when it comes to localization.

1.      Microsoft Word for word processing  

Microsoft Word documents are an example of a file type that is generally pretty easy to work with in the process of translation. We simply extract the text, send it through our translation management system and change it over into the target language.

That said, if you include a bunch of elements in a Word document such as embedded images or complex charts, or if the file size is very large, you’ll be looking at more processing time. 

2.      Graphics  

There are almost as many graphic file types in existence as there are paint shades in a home improvement store (with the added similarity of often having weird names).

Graphic file types are similar to other documents for the process of translation in that there are some important actions you can take before you’re ready for localization. Try to keep all layers separate and intact within your graphics, such as in a PSD file. Embedding text directly into the image is unwise since it’s impossible to edit that type of component for localization. We’d need to go in and potentially re-create the text within the image from scratch.

For faster localization, send us all non-flattened source image files at the start. 

3.      Microsoft PowerPoint presentations 

Presentations can contain many different elements, from graphics to charts. The same rules for graphics apply here. If you’re including an image in your slide, be sure to keep all components in separate layers. Captions for photos should be included as separate text boxes, not embedded into the image itself. When elements are editable, we can do our job of localization that much faster.

You might also benefit from working in extra wiggle room or spacing in your text boxes. Translated text strings often take up more space, so allowing the target text to flow easily through the extra spacing guards against text getting awkwardly cut off.

If you also have presenter notes included in your PowerPoint presentation, it helps if you can let us know upfront if you need those translated too.

 4.      Program or executable files 

Program files with an .exe extension require a high degree of localization expertise due to their inherent complexity. One positive factor is that the computer-aided translation tools dealing with .exe files have advanced within the last couple of decades, making localization of these file types go more smoothly. Program files are highly individualized and difficult to generalize about regarding the process of translation, which is why we deal with them on a case-by-case basis.

If you have a project that involves executable files, we’ll set you up with our software localization team in order to analyze your particular project requirements. 

5.      HTML and XML for web pages 

One question we’ll ask you in initial discovery sessions is whether your HTML files are static—standalone, in other words—or if they’re part of a content management system (CMS). If you’re using a CMS, you’ll most likely also require XML files to transfer your localizable content. With XML files, it helps if you can tell us the filter specifications—i.e., how you need content to be filtered out and transferred.

HTML files by themselves can be processed fairly quickly. When associated with a CMS, the process of translation takes a bit longer since it’s not as easy to import and export HTML files from your system to us and back. The final review step also goes faster for standalone HTML files, because the localized version can be rendered immediately. With a CMS, we have to allow for extra time to integrate the translated version back into your system before the localized file can be rendered.

One way to speed up the process is for us to connect into your CMS to allow for a seamless programmatic flow of files back and forth.

Of course, this is only a tiny sampling of file types. (If you feel like getting dizzied by a flurry of file extension acronyms, check out a more complete collection of file types.)

What other file types do you deal with often? Which ones would you like to hear more about regarding the process of translation?