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Best Way to Translate a Scanned Document PDF

Look for the best way to translate a scanned document PDF or image online for your company? Haven’t found an effective method? We’re not surprised.

There are multiple problems people commonly encounter when attempting scanned document translation with PDF’s or images in 2022.

First off, there aren’t many translation software programs that will translate a PDF for you that was originally scanned. They exist, but there aren’t many. Thankfully, we’ll point you in the right direction later in this post. Believe us, this will save you so much time and headache.

Before you purchase top-notch translation system for scanned documents, you must figure out how to make your PDF text readable by the platform. And once you do figure that out, it’s about trying to most accurately translate the document.

These are only two factors in figuring out the best way to translate a scanned document PDF. 

You’ll also want to retain much of the formatting so that you don’t need to reformat an entire document. This includes retaining font properties, image placement, spacing, line breaks, paragraph breaks and more. Read below to learn the best approach to translating a scanned PDF to solve these issues as best as possible.

scanned document translation

Best Way to Translate a Scanned Document PDF for Quality & Time-Savings

1. Determine the Type of Scanned Document You’re Translating

The first step toward finding the best method for translating a scanned document PDF accurately and while retaining formatting is to determine the type of PDF you’re translating.

Yes, there are two types. And yes, it does matter!

The two types of PDF’s that exist are image PDF’s and text PDF’s. The type of PDF you have will affect your translation quality. Knowing the type of PDF you have will help you ensure that you take steps before translation to ensure the most accurate and well-formatted translation possible.

This saves you time and money in the long run.

How to Check Your PDF Type

A quick way to check if your PDF is image-based or text-based is by clicking and holding your mouse or trackpad while dragging it over the text.

If you see a text cursor appear and you’re able to highlight the text, this indicates that your document is a text PDF. In this case, there are no more preparation steps to take before running it through translation software (skip to #3 at the bottom of this post).

If you drag your mouse or trackpad and it shows a cross, it is an image PDF. In this case, continue reading from here to learn the best way to translate a scanned document PDF.

2. Apply OCR to the Scanned Document

Similar to how machine translation is never going to give you as accurate of translation as human translation (or a combination of both), scanned documents in image format are never going to translate as accurately as other types of documents will.

This is because when you scan a document to turn it into a PDF, it’s usually going to scan in as an image. In this case, the text is unreadable as is.

The best way to translate a scanned document PDF accurately and to retain formatting is by using optical character recognition (OCR). OCR will recognize characters in your document and convert them to digital text.

The video below explains how scanned document translation software Pairaphrase will actually OCR your files for you. Watch the video to get important pointers for receiving the highest quality scanned document translation results possible. Pay close attention, as this video will save you a lot of time and head scratching.

It’s important to understand that retaining the formatting of a scanned PDF is very difficult in comparison to retaining the formatting of an original digital PDF (the one that ended up getting printed).

Another benefit of using Pairaphrase for scanned PDF translation is that Pairaphrase outputs the translated text in a Microsoft Word document so that users have an editable file to work with.

3. Best Way to Translate Your Scanned Document PDF with Translation Software

To achieve the best scanned document translation, use Pairaphrase.

translate scanned document

Why Use Pairaphrase?

  • Easy-to-use online translation software built specifically for enterprises
  • Helps your team manage translations and collaborate with colleagues across the world
  • Learns your words and phrases so that you never need to translate the same text segment twice
  • Saves you a significant amount of time and money in the long run
  • Encodes your files to retain as much of the formatting as possible
  • Reduces the likelihood that you’ll need to rearrange images or spend time reapplying font properties or editing the spacing
  • Keeps as much of your formatting as possible–more than other software systems do
  • Secures your data so you don’t need to worry about sending your data through an unsecured tool

With Pairaphrase plans, your files and data are encrypted. Not only that, but we never share, index or publish your data. It remains 100% confidential.

Pairaphrase Tips

When you use Pairaphrase, always follow the steps outlined in the video above before you upload your document. This will help you to retain the most formatting possible and achieve the most accurate translations.

For ultimate accuracy, we strongly recommend using a human translator to edit your translations once you run it through Pairaphrase or any other computer-assisted translation tool, for that matter.

Note: Machine translation can never be as accurate on its own as translations that are machine translated and then edited by a human translator. This will also enable you to benefit from our translation memory technology, which requires editing your translated text in order to store your words and phrases for future use.

Start Translating Scanned PDFs More Efficiently

Now that you’ve learned the best way to translate a scanned document PDF for enterprises, why not get started with Pairaphrase?

Schedule a live demo

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