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Best Way to Translate a Scanned Document PDF

Posted on: Dec 05, 2017

If your company is looking for the best way to translate a scanned document PDF and haven’t had much luck, we’re not surprised. Fortunately for you, we’re going to help you.

There are multiple problems people commonly encounter when attempting to translate a scanned document PDF.

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 do find scanned PDF translation software, you must figure out how to make your PDF text readable by the software.

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 as much of the formatting as possible 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.

Continue reading to learn the best way to translate a scanned document PDF, most accurately and while retaining as much of the formatting as possible.

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

1. Determine the Type of PDF You’re Translating

The first step toward finding the best way to translate 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 PDF

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.

Take 5 minutes to watch the OCR tutorial video below. It will save you a lot of time and head scratching. The video walks you through the steps to applying OCR and gives you other tips for optimizing the document for the best translation possible.

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

As a complimentary service to our premium plan customers, Pairaphrase translation software will OCR a scanned document for you. One of the benefits of Pairaphrase is that it is good for OCR scanning of small files up to 10 pages, and we use Adobe technology to do that.

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

For a document that is more than 10 pages long, it’s best to break it up into smaller groups of pages or OCR scan the document first.

Below, you can learn how to use OCR for documents that are more than 10 pages (if you haven’t watched the time-saving video above!).

How to Use OCR

You need an OCR program such as Adobe Acrobat Pro in order to OCR a file. Acrobat automatically applies OCR to your PDF when you open a PDF with the program and click the “Edit PDF” tool.

When you use OCR, it is important to select the correct language of the document. The default is set to English in Acrobat.

For example, if it’s a German document you need to choose German. If you don’t choose the correct language, the OCR will be poor quality as it will not pick up the characters that are unique to that language.

In effect, this will result in a low-quality translation afterward when you run the document through translation software. Not only in terms of accuracy, but also in terms of formatting.

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

The best way to translate a scanned document PDF with translation software is by using Pairaphrase.

Pairaphrase is easy-to-use online translation software for enterprises that helps your team manage translations and collaborate with colleagues across the world. It even learns your words and phrases so that you never need to translate the same word or phrase twice.

This will save you significant time and money in the long run.

One of the reasons Pairaphrase is the best way to translate a scanned document PDF is that our translation software will encode your file when you upload it for translation. The purpose of this is to retain as much of the formatting as possible.

With Pairaphrase, you reduce the likelihood that you’ll need to rearrange images or spend time reapplying font properties or editing the spacing.

Most translation software will completely lose your formatting. Pairaphrase works hard to keep as much of your formatting as possible.

Another reason Pairaphrase is the best way to translate a scanned document PDF is that it secures your data. With our software, you never again need to worry about sending your data through an unsecured tool.

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

When you use Pairaphrase, make sure you follow the steps outlined above before you upload your document. You should always OCR your file before uploading it to Pairaphrase for translation in order to get 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.

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.

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


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