Author Archives: madmin

madmin

About madmin

After translating and managing translation projects for more than 20 years, I'm happy to teach others the ropes and move on to other interests. My greatest perk from this profession is that it has given me the freedom to work when and where I want, and eventually to loosen the straps and travel freely around the world.

Backing up

backing-up-translation-tipsMaking backups is something that one often just rolls their eyes about, assume it’s more the preoccupation of computer geeks, and pushes it to the back of their mind as something they are sure they will get around to doing, one day. Until one day comes and disaster strikes. Then you can count the pennies you lose every second that you spend not being able to translate because you have to go down to the shop to buy another computer, or spend the time recovering lost data, or even the more dreaded RE: retranslating.

But backing up doesn’t need to be such a tedious and intimidating prospect. The following are different ways you can backup your system.

Backup your entire computer

acronis_backup_translation-tips

The most obvious. For this I found Acronis is a good and reliable system. It makes an image of your entire computer, which you can then store on an external harddrive. If calamity does ever strike you, you can run out to the shop, buy the same computer model and configuration, copy back the image and you can be up and running within the same day. Preferably keep your backup harddrive in a different location, if the calamity involves a fire burning down your house. You can be paranoid and save it in a safe deposit box in a bank. Otherwise, the time you would have to spend resetting up your entire working environment with the resulting loss in work could well outweigh the costs of storing such a backup. Especially if such a calamity occurs in the middle of a large and major translation project.

Have a backup computer

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If you ever feel the urge to upgrade to a new computer, why wait until your existing one is completely dead when you can upgrade earlier and use your existing one as a backup? If anything happens to your new one, you can instantly pull out your old computer and keep working – assuming you have backed up some necessary files.

Backup necessary files

google-drive-translation-tips

You can backup your entire system or even computer in the above ways, but certain files should be backed up frequently or constantly. For this I like to use Google Drive. It combines with the 15gigs you get with your regular google account, which includes your gmail account. If you are running out of room with that, you can easily set up a new gmail/google account and use that only for backup purposes. When setting up it will create a folder on your computer and always automatically synchronise that with what is on the web in its clouds. So any time you copy a file into that folder, even if it is overwriting an existing file with the same name, the software will recognise that there was a change and immediately upload it to the web.

This way, if you do need to resort to some sort of a backup, such as a digital one of your entire computer which you keep on an external harddrive (but which lacks an update of certain files) or switch to another computer, all you need to do is remember your login info to your gmail account and then download the necessary files to your new system. Or install the Google Drive software to your new system and it will download everything for you (or just download what you need if you do not want to install the software).

old-floppy-disk-translation-tips

This reminds me a poor chap, in the early days of all this digital revolution, who spent half a year working on his thesis, the only copy saved on a floppy disk! And when I say floppy, I mean the older ones which are actually floppy and flexible, which most people these days probably do not even know of. He probably thought he was on top of technology and would carry around this flimsy piece of plastic from place to place, continuing on his work simply by sticking the thing into another computer.

Fast forward to the present, I once chatted with one translator who expressed extreme paranoia about losing any of his ongoing translation work, so I suggested he could put his translation file into the Google Drive folder and work out of that. Each time there would be an autosave every 9 seconds, the software would automatically upload a copy to the web. And if he is like me, he could manually press ctrl+s (save) every time he made an important change and did not feel like waiting for or trusting the autosave. I sometimes joke that I could develop a nervous eye twitch the amount of times I unconsciously press ctrl+s whenever working.

nervous-eye-twitch-translation-tips

Anyway, whether you choose to save the originals of those files in the GD folder or occasionally copy updates into it, here is a list which might give you ideas what you’d like to store in it (and subsequently a backup in the clouds):

  • you’ve got 15gigs of space, so tons. Put everything important you can imagine, such as installation software for your most important programs.
  • I like to have a file with a random name (not “credit card information.txt”) which has precisely that, including what numbers to call if I need to cancel my credit cards. So I could lose absolutely everything except my shorts but still be able to walk into an internet café, log into my gmail to google drive account, open up the file and cancel everything. Or use the card for online shopping if I did not want to cancel.
  • telephone and contact details to all your friends, family and contacts. If you store all this information in your email software, for example, you can probably export it all into some format that could be read as a regular text file, or imported back into the same software if you ever have to set it up on another computer, or import into your new phone etc.
  • a file stating the username and passwords to everything you have, such as your facebook account, although I like to use cryptic versions of the passwords. There is also software which you can use to encrypt all this, but you would need to install it on another computer to decrypt it. I prefer my own mental cryptic system that only I understand and therefore can quickly access everything I need from a text file I can download anywhere.
  • this special file storing your passwords can also include other important information you want to keep, such as the details of software you paid for. If you ever have to set up again on another computer, you can download the software and then get it registered on your new computer with your existing activation code (assuming they let you do that).
  • if you have your own personal glossary for translation, then that. For example, if you use some digital dictionary software which allows you to add your own items, you can find out the name of the file that your personal glossary terms get added to and copy only that file into your GD folder, instead of the entire software folder.
  • any TM (translation memory) you have, again only the file or files concerned and not the entire software folder. Note that you can obviously compress all these specific files before you copy them into your GD folder – this will make for a faster download if you ever need to set up again.
  • all your browser bookmarks. Most browsers allow you to export that into a simple text file, or other format which can be imported into other or the same browser. Export it to the different format to be certain. The simple text file can probably be used to create a webpage of all your links, so if for example you are at an airport and realise you need to access a webpage you do not remember, simply go to your online GD folder, click on the webpage you created and it should open up in any browser you are using without importing it into its bookmarks.
  • your Word Normal.dot template file, or whatever it’s called. In Word, go to Tools > Options > File Locations and it should show you where such a file is stored. If you ever need to set up on another computer, after you install Word, copy the newly installed template file somewhere just in case, and then overwrite it with your previous template. This should set up your new installation with the toolbar and everything you had on your previous Word installation, including the all-important autotext, and maybe even your spellchecker (the words that you laboriously added to your dictionary over time so that you do not have to stare at those annoying squiggly red underlines when proofreading your own work). The autotext is a feature I like to use often when translating in Word. For example, I have one customer who always asks that acronyms be expanded, such as for some institution. It has to be translated as ACRONYM (source expansion of acronym [target translation of acronym, target ACRONYM]). So whenever I come across the first instance of that acronym in the source, I simply put the cursor at the end of it and press F3, the autotext replacing it with the long string of text that the customer wants to see. This saves a lot of time translating and can be a lot of work building up over the years, and very valuable information. Note that such additions to your autotext and possibly internal spellchecker only get saved to the Normal.dot template when you close the Word software. So if you have made some important entries, once you are done with your translation, simply close your Word and open it again. If you do not, you may be adding entries over a longer period, until your system accidentally crashes and you lose all those recent entries.
  • and lastly, if you use some offline email software, you can save all your messages as well. I often work and manage my life out of my inbox, or save important emails in special folders. You should be able to export all those messages so that you can reimport them if you ever have to install the software on another computer, or you can find the files which concern all the messages and save that instead of the entire software folder.

automatically-synchronise-folders-translation-tips

Note that there exists software which can automatically synchronise files and folders on your computer, using Window’s Task Scheduler. You can program it to automatically copy all of these important files into your GD folder according to some schedule, such as once every day. It will compare all the files and folders you instruct it to, and if it finds an updated version, it will automatically copy it to the GD folder, where it will be instantly and automatically uploaded to the clouds as a backup.

Downtime when you are not able to translate can cost you a lot of money, not to mention it can be rather annoying to have to set up everything from scratch again, or the valuable data that you can lose if you do not have such an automated backup system in place. Free up your time and make more money!

Make your computer clean, lean and mean

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Translation memory software can be demanding on your computer. If you have translated for several years, the software scans all your previous translations looking for similar sentences/segments to make your work faster. If when working with such a tool you feel it is a little sluggish, this can slow you down, adding up over time and resulting in lost revenue. Because time is money. If you feel it is working well then you can consider skipping this section; however, it might be a worthwhile read to learn about some precautions you can take to avoid viruses. Not all virus protection software is perfect, which may end up being costly, such as keylogging software, which keeps track of which websites you access and the keys you punch in to login. Such as your PayPal account, and the subsequent username and password. Which it would subsequently send by email to somewhere in Russia and then, well, the rest could be painful history.

If your computer feels sluggish in any way, the first thing you want to check out is your CPU usage (check out the computer intro section for an understanding of the various components of your computer).

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For this I like to use the Task Manager (Start > Control Panel > Performance Information and Tools > Advanced Tools > Task Manager). You can set it so that it displays a little icon in the task bar (above pic with the half bright green icon showing 50% usage as I was opening up VLC). If you have a good machine that is already clean, lean and mean, the CPU average use should be around 2-3%. If you double click on the icon, the program pops up, and if you go to the Processes tab, it should show you the list of programs and processes running on your computer. Make sure you have the “Show processes from all users” checkbox selected so you can see all the processes running on your computer. Click on the header of the CPU column to sort all the processes in order of consumption. If you press the header again, it will sort it from highest to lowest, or lowest to highest.

task-manager-processes-translation-tips

If sorted from highest to lowest and your machine is humming nicely, such as at only 2-3% CPU usage, the top process would be System Idle Process, in this case running at 97-98%. This actually just shows how much the CPU is NOT being used, so the higher this percentage the better. If it is constantly showing at 50%, it means all other processes on your computer combined are consuming 50% of your CPU. The higher this consumption, or the lower the percent “used” by System Idle Process, the more your CPU or processor is busy. The busier your CPU, the less capacity it will have to perform the tasks you want to make you faster money. It can also overheat your CPU, especially if you are working in a warmer climate, and burn it out faster. If running at 50%, it will also show this in the taskbar icon, half of it filled up with bright green.

Check your ram

ram-translation-tips

If your CPU is constantly running at a high rate, the first thing you want to do is check your ram. As explained in the computer intro, if you don’t have enough ram to efficiently run all your programs, your computer will end up using your harddrive to constantly store and retrieve bits of data that it cannot hold in ram.

glary-utilities-translation-tips

To check this, a good, free program to use, also for checking the condition of your computer in general, is Glary Utilities. It can be your one stop shop for a complete overview of your system and how to optimise it. When in the Advanced Tools tab, under System Status click on System Information, and then Memory. Mine is showing at 1,385 MB (1.3 GB) Free Memory, so I’m doing okay.

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If you are very low on ram, either you need to buy more ram, or you could have a lot of unnecessary processes running that you don’t even need. This will be explained later.

Check your processes

If you have plenty of ram, then you know that your high CPU usage is not because of that. Later I will explain how to free up ram by shutting down unnecessary software and process – this is always a good thing. Think lean and mean!

To check your CPU usage, double click on the Task Manager icon and sort your process in order of CPU consumption. Make sure you have the “Show process from all users” so that you can see everything running on your computer. If you will see a process that is hogging up a lot of CPU, you will want to analyse it. You can do an internet search on its name and research what program creates and uses such a process. If the name is followed by an extension, such as .exe, make sure to write that out as well. Note though that there are many websites which offer information regarding different processes but which loudly display flashy banners warning you that your computer is unsafe and that you should download such and such software to clean it up. Be careful of these. processlibrary.com is one reputable website, otherwise ignore the ads and just read the information. You should soon be able to recognise the serious sites which offer useful information and are not try to sell you a scam.

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The good sites will also inform you if a said process can actually be a virus in disguise, and how to deal with it. If some process is continuously hogging up a lot of CPU, you definitely want to first check if it could be a virus, and the study it to understand what the problem is and how you can deal with it. To save your CPU from burning out, and to free up as much CPU as possible so that your computer is ready to fully serve you for whatever you need, you should try to get the cruising speed down to about 2-3% total usage. It hardly requires any CPU to type into a Word file, and most, quality translation memory software should do all the analysis before you start working, and not while you work.

In Glary Utilities, under System Control > Processes, you can see the same information but with a rating from users or the developer regarding the safety of each process. This may be interesting to check out, but does not necessarily have to be accurate.

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A lot of programs might use and start a lot of processes, so if you do not see anything consuming a lot of CPU in your long list, you can move on to the next section, rather than study each of them.

Check your startup programs

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In Glary Utilities, under System Control > Startup Items, you can see a list of programs that are set to initiate every time you turn on your Windows. You can go through all the tabs and decide if you want to disable any of the programs from starting automatically with Windows. When you install programs, a lot of them will automatically throw things into the Startup Menu to run automatically with each Windows restart. As explained below, the more programs you install on your system, the slower it generally gets, especially if they command some process to start with Windows. Look through all these, but we will get to your Windows Services later.

winpatrol-translation-tips

Another good, free program to have is Winpatrol. Not only is it a very light program which monitors for anything peculiar happening on your computer, it also has some good tools, and above all, the Delayed Start tab. I like to have a lot of programs open on my computer and find that Windows can run into problems if too many of them are thrown into the Startup menu. If you go to the Startup Programs tab and right mouse click on one of the programs, you should notice Move to Delayed Start Program List in the dropdown menu. You can do this with some of your programs, spreading them out over minutes and specifying exactly how long after Windows startup each should be activated. This will give Windows time to startup properly, and then the other programs in succession. There is nothing more irritating than having to restart Windows and then manually open all your usual software, when instead you can just turn on your computer and all will be automatically returned to its usual state (even individual files are possible) in a manner of a few minutes.

Check Windows Services

A little bit more complicated, but if you want to go further to becoming leaner, at least worth checking out.

windows-services-translation-tips

In Glary Utilities, under System Control, click on Services. This should open up Windows’ services window. You can click on the column header Startup Type to order the services in that way. What will interest you are the ones that are set to start automatically, even with a delayed start, and you will probably be surprised to find out how many there are. An easy way to deal with this is to turn to an expert. You can do a net search for something like “which windows services to turn on or off” and do a bit of reading to make your system leaner. Not all the services in this list are part of Windows, so you can definitely clean up a little shop here. Based on what recommendations you find, just double click on the service in question so you can change the Startup Type accordingly (such as from Automatic to Disabled or Manual).

Check installed programs

Perhaps before even checking all your running processes and services, you should check what programs you have installed on your system. As mentioned above, the more programs you have installed and the more processes they automatically initiate on Windows startup, the slower your computer will get.

uninstall-programs-translation-tips

In Glary Utilities > Programs > Uninstall, you can view all the programs installed on your system and easily uninstall any that you feel you do not truly need. If you do not know what the program is, simply look it up on the net. Get clean and lean!

Check Windows Features

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Go to Start > Control Panel > Programs and Features > “Turn Windows features on or off”. Here you will find other programs you can “uninstall”, if you do not need them. They are a part of Windows, so you can always reactivate them, although it may require the installation disk. This step might also be better done before analysing individual services, because once you remove them, as with any third party programs as explained above, you will have that much less to analyse!

Check your registry

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Once you removed all the programs you do not need, it is possible that they have still left some traces in your registry. This is like the inner brain of your Windows, so it’s better not to have that unnecessarily muddled or polluted. A simple solution is to click on the 1-Click Maintenance tab in Glary Utilities, Scan for Issues, and Resolve. You can also check out the Options and play around with that.

Remove some bells and whistles

If after all this you STILL find your system sluggish, you can go to Start > Control Panel > Performance Information and Tools > Adjust Visual Effects to bring up the following panel:

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You can click on Adjust for Best Performance and compare the results. If you notice a marked improvement but miss some of the fancy effects, such as the shadow effect shown in the image above, you can select Custom like I have and play around with removing or adding individual effects to see which combination will give you the look and feel you like without compromising performance.

Hope your system has improved and you can start to make more money now!

Intro – know your tool

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From the translation tips page you can learn all sorts of tricks how to translate faster and better, but how about the machine you are working on? Knowing that, how to optimise it and keep it running smoothly without catching any viruses is also important.

So first, a brief explanation how the computer works, to get you onto the page.

The motherboard – intelligence

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They say that computers double in speed every couple of years. This is due to many factors. For example, in the design of the motherboard. For Windows/Intel, this might have gone up from Pentium 1 to 2 through to 5. The individual components on the motherboard (that big flat disk with all sorts of things stuck to it) could have improved in speed and quality, but overall the design is better. It’s like a smart person who looks for smarter ways to do things, so they can accomplish the same task in fewer steps.

Harddrive – storage space

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Then you need a place to store all your files and programs. Think of it as a bookshelf. If you open up a big file, or some program, or your digital dictionary, for example, it is like pulling books off your shelf. The faster your harddrive the faster programs and files will open on your computer. An SSD drive is more like a flash drive, storing data in light. It does not have a moving disk like a standard harddrive does and can therefore retrieve data from the bookshelf much faster.

bookshelf-translation-tipsIf you have the disk spinning harddrive, one thing to remember is that whenever you install software or copy files to your computer, it will often splatter the individual pages of these books throughout your bookshelf. Don’t ask me why. If you delete some files (remove pages from your bookshelf), more space will be created, but when you copy new files to your computer, the pages might be splattered even more, filling up all these little spaces. This is called “fragmentation”. Therefore, for harddrives with spinning disks, it is good to check the file fragmentation once in a while.

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A first round defrag, at 95%. The red sections before I started are torn up pages from the books. If you see any green “unmovable files”, it means you have some files open. Make sure to shut down all programs and files before starting.

When doing so your computer will tell you if it thinks it should be “defragged”. Defragging basically means that the computer reorganises all the loose pages splattered throughout your bookshelf, piecing them together as whole books. This way the disk does not need to spin so much from one section of the bookshelf to another, collecting the individual pages of your book and compiling it as one just so you can view it on your screen. This can speed up your computer. Note that since SSD drives do not have such a spinning disk but zap the data from light, and it is not a good idea to defrag such disks because it apparently wears them out.

Ram – multitasking

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RAM is also very important, and stands for Random Access Memory. You can imagine it like the number of arms and hands on a body. If you have low ram, or only two arms and two hands, you might pull out a book from your bookshelf (after first piecing it together if it is severely fragmented), leaf through it and read it, but if you need to look at a second book (open a second large file or some big program), you first have to put your first book back on the shelf (always putting each page back in its allotted, fragmented spot), before grabbing or piecing together your second book, so that you can hold it in your limited number of hands and read it.

This can make your ram one of the most important factors in the speed of your computer, especially if you like to have a lot of programs running or files open at the same time (such as translation memory software and your dictionaries).

many-programs-open-translation-tips

For example, not only do I run my own translation agency and still translate, but I like to dabble in all sorts of projects, developing webpages, graphic design and even video editing. For this I purchased a Macbook Air, running both Windows and MAC at the same time. I use the MAC side for the graphics and video editing, but find that my Chrome browser works faster on the MAC than any browser in Windows. My browser can easily have 20 tabs open at any time, each tab holding a webpage consuming its own ram. Each operating system needs about 2gb ram to operate properly, so the 8gb ram that my computer has can quickly be consumed if I have a lot of programs and files open.

memory-and-cpu-usage-translation-tips

Menumeters is a very light program which can show a lot of system information in the top bar. You can set what you want to see. To the left of the ram pie shows download and upload speeds, and to the right the CPU usage of the four processors (including a bit of its history). Clicking on any of them creates a dropdown box showing more details (in this case the ram).

For this I downloaded and installed menumeters, which shows the total ram usage and free capacity for both the Windows and MAC, as well as CPU usage. If I click on the little icon, this dropdown appears showing more detailed info. If the blue part of the pie starts to fill up towards 100%, I notice that the computer starts slowing down, because its number of arms and hands are getting fully preoccupied holding all the open books. So if I want to do some heavy graphics or video work, I may have to close some translation files and programs (doesn’t matter whether in Windows or Mac) to help the computer.

When you buy a computer they often have minimum ram, because most people don’t understand all this and the end price is lower. Be prepared to invest a little into upgrading your ram and you will find your computer can run a lot faster. There are also different qualities of ram, some operating faster than others, so pay attention to this. A sluggish computer means many precious seconds lost over time, and eventually income.

CPU – speed of thought

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And lastly we have the processor speed. You can have a lot of arms and hands (ram), capable of pulling out and holding a lot of books from your bookshelf at the same time, and you can have an intelligent motherboard capable of doing more in fewer steps, but at the end of the day it is the processor which performs the tasks and calculations, such as if your translation memory software has to look through all your previous translations in search of similar sentences to help make your work faster.

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For this I also like to use software showing me CPU usage. For Mac I like to use the same Menumeters. My Mac has four processors and it shows the usage for each of them. Clicking on this icon also shows more info (above picture). On my Windows side I like to use the Task Manager (Start > Control Panel > Performance Information and Tools > Advanced Tools > Task Manager), its icon shown below. If for example some process (program) in Windows is consuming a lot of ram, the Windows icon will light up as bright green (in the example below, it shows up as half light green as I was opening up VLC). If I go to the Mac side, this might be fully consuming one of the four processors, showing up as fully red in the icon.

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If your processor(s) is busy with some task and fully preoccupied, it will slow down other tasks that your computer is trying to do. Whenever I notice that any of these icons show high CPU use, I immediately check it out. You never know, it can be a busy virus!

In Mac you can go to the Activity Monitor, while in Windows the Task Manager does the same thing, showing all the processes running on your computer. You can press the CPU column (press the column header) to sort the processes in order of how much CPU they use. For Windows (double click on the Task Manager icon to open the software – you can set it to make it always visible in the task bar) I have sorted the processes to show the highest CPU usage at the top, working its way down (which is why you will see a little down arrow in the CPU column). In my case (picture below) it shows 98% being used by System Idle Process. This is actually a measurement of how much is NOT being used, so the higher the number the better.

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On the Mac side, since my Windows is running within the application Parallels, all the CPU used by my Windows gets consolidated into the Parallels app, showing up as prl_vm_app in the activity monitor (below picture). Therefore, if I want to find out which process within Windows is using so much CPU, I have to go to the Task Manager in Windows to see a breakdown.

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Often when I see a jump in CPU usage it can be because my virus protection software is updating, or possibly I have opened a few webpages at the same time and the browser is busy downloading all the bells and whistles. That is why I have disabled Flash/Shockwave in all my browsers, because they are almost always just advertisements and tend to consume a lot of CPU.

For this reason I have also gone through a few virus protection software, because I noticed that a lot of them are resource-consuming monsters sucking up all my CPU during their occasional scans and upgrades. They are obviously not designed very well. For Windows I found Bitdefender does the job while working quietly in the background to not disturb my computer’s capacity, so that it can do its important work of earning me money.

If you do see a lot of unusually high CPU usage and find out which process is hogging it, simply type in the process name (such as prl_vm_app running Parallels and Windows on the Mac) and run a search on the net. There are tons of webpages which explain in detail the source of that process, potential dangers with it, possible remedies and so forth. This will be explained in greater detail in how to keep your computer clean, lean and mean.

If you have an older system, you can check out my computer tips when I was running XP.

Counting words, file delivery and invoicing

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Once you have finalised your translation and feel confident and happy with its quality, you will want to send it to the customer. But first you want to know how much you have earned, and possibly send an invoice together with your translation. It is a good idea to send your invoice together with your file because this makes it easier for the company to process your invoice, and helps ensure timely payment for you. If you send the invoice at a later date, it might take a while before the email gets processed properly, and may need to be confirmed with the project manager who assigned you the translation whether you were truly assigned this project. This all causes further delays, but if you send the invoice together with the translation, the project manager can quickly forward that attachment to the accounting department.

Most agencies are satisfied with an invoice created in a Word file. You can spend a few hours one day beautifying your invoice, making sure you have your business license details, payment information and contact information on the invoice (in case the accounting department needs to contact you). But don’t go overboard with choice of fonts, because it will not look how you hoped on the customer’s end if they do not have the same fonts on their system as you do. Or you can download free software such as Nitro PDF Creator which can convert through the print function any file (such as Excel) to a PDF file, which looks better as an invoice and cannot be accidentally altered (such as your bank account number).

nitro-pdf-creator-translation-jobs

Once you have beautified your invoice, you can save it somewhere as a template and always use the same file when creating new invoices.

You can Save As each new invoice to create a copy and store it for your own accounting needs, or in case the customer loses it and asks for it again. You can even get fancy and create fields which hook up to an Excel file or other accounting system.

Once you are ready to issue your customer an invoice, you should include their project/order number (so that they can quickly know what job the invoice refers to), the date of delivery, the payment due date, and the word or other count.

Counting words

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For counting words in a Word file, simply go to File > Properties > Statistics tab. Since I do this frequently, once again I have created a shortcut key for this through the usual Tools > Customization > Keyboard. The word count statistics should usually suffice. If your customer is paying in some other way, such as by the page of 1800 keystrokes (East Europe and Russia) or by the line of 55 keystrokes (Germany), you can use the other statistics. But note that a keystroke includes the space, tab or ENTER mark after every word – essentially any key you press on the keyboard. Different versions of Word count these statistics differently, so make sure you test some files to find out how your version counts it. If you find out that the character statistics count does not include the space etc. after every word, simply add the character count to the word count first, and then divide the total by 1800 to get the number of pages. For your reference, I find that the average page of 1800 keystrokes usually works out to around 250 words. If charging by the line of 55 keystrokes, simply take the total keystroke count and divide it by 55.

However, some customers like to charge by the source text, meaning not by the target text, which is what you translated. Usually the customer will give you a source word count at the beginning, which you can double check using different software.

If you locally charge VAT on your services but your client is from another country (or outside Europe, if you are European), you usually do not need to charge VAT. This is because you are exporting a service, and most governments do not tax exports, because they want to encourage exports. You do not want to make yourself unnecessarily expensive to your foreign clients, and you certainly do not want to pay more taxes than necessary, so look into this before issuing your first invoice to a foreign client.

Sending your files

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When sending your file, it is a good idea to quadruple check that you have the necessary files attached to your email. There is nothing worse than being satisfied with the quality and timely delivery of your translation, and then go off to lunch or celebrate for an evening, only to come back to your computer the next day to find an angry email that there was no attachment with your email. All your efforts for timely and quality delivery have been wasted and now you must deal with damage control.

You might also consider zipping (the WinZip program on our Download Translation Programs pages) the file(s) to compress it/them to about one tenth their size. Not only does it cost less internet time for you and your customer, but sometimes very large attachments tend to wander in cyber space, arriving to their destination at a delayed time, or sometimes not at all. Or perhaps fill up your customer’s online email inbox to the point that it gets bounced back to you, causing unnecessary delays.

When you are finally ready to send, you can also put your own email address in the BCC (blind carbon copy), meaning that a copy of the email is sent back to you, this fact hidden from your customer. This way you can double check that it has been sent off properly. Or if you have a smartphone, you really do go off to lunch or partying and find out your customer did not get the file, you can forward to them the email with attached file that you sent to yourself and confirmed that you received.

If you have the means, as a backup, you can also upload your file somewhere to the web and send a download link to the customer. In such cases, or when sending larger attachments, I usually like to send two emails to my customer: one with the attachment, and the other without the attachment but informing the customer I just sent them the file as a large attachment (with the download link in the email if I am using that as a backup).

Once you have received your BCCed email back and double checked that everything is okay, then you can go to lunch and party all evening with a clear conscience. However, it is always a good idea to be available for some time after you deliver a translation. Perhaps you can check your email from your mobile phone, or you can give your customer your mobile phone for sms text messaging. Things can often be found wrong with your translation, such as some missing text you have overlooked, or some problem. Until the project is finalised and confirmed by the customer, the job is not done and it is good to be on standby over the next few hours in case the customer needs your help finalising something. You can also make sure your smartphone has all the necessary software to edit such documents.

Divide up your computer screen

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If your source material comes in electronic format, such as a .pdf, other image file, or Word file, as opposed to a printed piece of paper, you will want to learn how to divide up your monitor. Some people like to print out their electronic files, but I consider this a waste of paper and entirely unnecessary.

If you will be working in a different program than the one you received (for example, a .pdf file opens in Adobe Acrobat and you might be typing your translation into a Word file), you will want to position your two programs so that you can view them both comfortably. If you have a very large monitor or two of them at the same time (using several computer monitors), you could place the programs next to one another. But I like to work on a small light laptop, with lots of batteries so that I can go out into nature, and I find it perfectly acceptable to work on such a small screen by having the two programs positioned one above the other. That is the one great advantage of windows, that concept which Bill Gates took from Macintosh and brought it to the archaic world of Dos. On the top right hand corner of each program (even file), you will see three little icons

divide-up-your-computer-screen-2-translation-jobsThe left one minimizes your program or file (puts it out of view and sends it to your task bar at the bottom of your screen), the second one maximises it so that it takes up the entire screen, or allows you to resize the program and position it where you want to. The last X closes the program or file.

In this case you see two sets of these icons, the top row being for the program, and the second row for the file embedded within it.

Position the source document so that it covers the top half of the computer monitor, and the target (often Word) so that it covers the bottom half of the monitor. You can push the upper window high up so that the bar is partially covered, and push the bottom window down so some unimportant functions are not visible. Within each program you can remove from view all toolbars <how to..> you will not need, to maximise the viewable document within each program. At the middle horizontal section, the programs can overlap a bit, covering up parts you do not need. Play around with this for a while and I find it no problem to translate with both documents visible on my little laptop monitor.

To jump between the two programs, simply alt tab it, by holding down the ALT key, then pressing TAB once Command TAB on Mac). Or press the TAB key enough times until you get to the program you want. Once you get to the program once, pressing alt tab again gets you back to the previous program. In this manner you can quickly jump back and forth between the two programs without depending on the mouse, which will only slow you down.

When in either of the windows, the up or down arrow should be enough to navigate in the document. Or some of the Word shortcut keys could help with this < .

If you are translating within the same program, like Word, sometimes it happens that you view one file while translating into another. So you can divide up your “panes” in Word in the same manner, so that one file takes up the top half of the computer monitor while another the bottom half. You can also customise your Word to create a shortcut key to jump between one file and another, by going to Tools > Customise > Keyboard icon > category “Windows and Help” > Next Window. Once that is selected, put your cursor into the “Press new shortcut key” box and select your shortcut combination (I like to use two: ALT F1 and ALT `) and press Assign. You can program your Word in many ways like this, and customise it in general, as explained later.

To repeat, if your source and translation files are both within Word, Alt Tab might not work (depends on your version of Windows). If you can view both files within the same Word window, create your shortcut key as per the instructions above to jump between them.

So make sure you set everything up for yourself and learn shortcut keys, not automatically always depending on your mouse, because every little corner you cut will eventually add up to higher income.

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