The Toolbox for Subtitling. Male freelancer working on movie production

The Toolbox for Subtitling

Subtitling is a media localization solution that requires proficiency in two different fields. First, the text in the subtitle must be a linguistically correct and culturally accurate translation of the source audio or text.

With the purpose of delivering optimal subtitles, audiovisual translators and subtitlers can access resources to guide their jobs, such as software, specifications or reference materials. These are also quality assurance tools that guarantee that the delivered file is consistent, accurate and in agreement with all the client’s parameters and specifications. We’ll describe some of the resources that support audiovisual projects here.

1. Software

Reliable software is a key resource for subtitling. On one hand, it helps to automate several aspects of the job and, on the other, it’s a tool to ensure quality. Professional programs can be configured with parameters (such as line limit, reading speed, shot change preference) and they run QA analysis based on them. 

There are free software options, such as Aegisub, SubtitleEdit or Subtitle Workshop. Other programs must be purchased (by a one-time payment or a monthly subscription), like EZTitles, SubtitleNEXT or WinCAPs. Certain applications support more file formats than others, or handle more complex workflows. They synchronize subtitles to shot changes automatically, or they show the audio waveform. Others are lighter applications that don’t include these features. The choice depends on every need.

2. Guidelines

Technical and stylistic guidelines are the first touchstone for a consistent and accurate subtitling project. Depending on the transmission support (streaming platform, web pages, theaters, television, etc.), subtitles must have certain technical specifications, like length or aspect. Compliance with requested requirements is very important in subtitling, because it has consequences in layout, video aspect and reading.

 A complete project guide specifies the following preferences:

  • Subtitle type/style
  • Frame rate
  • Reading speed
  • Character limit
  • Shot change or audio wave compliance
  • Font and position

Also, style guidelines are a useful resource when translating or preparing the text of the subtitles, providing linguistic criteria of client’s preference. For instance, guides specify how to handle proper names and numbers, speaker’s IDs or audio in a foreign language. They also set preferences, if any, for punctuation, italics, or letter case. 

3. KNP and Query Sheets 

Another very common tool in subtitling projects are KNP (key names and phrases) sheets. They are online collaborative documents. In them, subtitlers write down proposed translations and information for characters’ names, places, institutions, catchphrases or any other relevant term in the series or movie. The team can also register if characters interact with formal or informal tone. This comes in very handy to translate dialogues while maintaining consistency. 

KNP sheets are widely used in projects where several providers work simultaneously in related material, because they promote consistency. Furthermore, this resource is helpful for data collection. The information is utilized to ensure consistent translation and treatment across other media localization products, such as dubbing, marketing materials or web content. For collaborative projects, query sheets are also useful. There, translators can ask each other questions or clarify doubts with clients.

Translation of Summary of Benefits and Coverage 101

Translation of Summary of Benefits and Coverage 101

All professionals in the medical industry should have their consumers’ best needs at heart, this includes insurance companies. Generally, they do, which is why so much importance is placed on the translation of the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) in the medical industry. 

The role of a SBC is to ensure that consumers are aware of the health benefits and coverage available to them through their healthcare plan. In fact, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) typically requires that any group of health plans or health insurance companies provide a summary of benefits and coverage that can accurately describe the benefits and coverage available under the plan. While that definition will give you a quick glimpse at why SBCs are so important, let’s dive a bit deeper into this complicated topic and how medical translation comes into play.

What is an SBC?

Alongside helping consumers understand their health plan’s features and offerings, an SBC also covers the costs associated with the plan. An SBC can cover very complicated topics, such as cost-sharing rules or limits and exceptions to coverage, in a way that is easy for the average consumer to understand. One way that a health insurance or plan company can do this is by providing consumers with a “Uniform Glossary” designed to clearly explain any medical or insurance-related terms that may apply to a plan. Not only are all plans required by the ACA to provide a SBC to their consumers, but they must follow a uniform template that is customized to reflect the terms of a specific plan. 

Why do SBCs matter? 

It is of the utmost importance that consumers have access to an SBC. Not only does this access help them understand their plan features and the costs associated with it once they’re enrolled, but they can use the SBC to answer some of their general questions regarding a health plan before they choose to enroll in it. This knowledge helps consumers make informed decisions about their health and finances. 

Why does an SBC need to be translated into other languages?

Because we live in an increasingly global world, health plans and insurance providers must keep diversity in mind. A minimum of 350 languages are spoken in homes throughout the United States. While providing SBCs in each of those languages wouldn’t be possible or even necessary as many of these languages are spoken by bilingual citizens, compliance regulations dictate which languages providers must accommodate. Vital plan information must be available in the 15 non-English languages most commonly spoken in a state or languages spoken by at least 10 percent of a county’s population. The ACA, and other related statutes and regulations, currently have strict language requirements. For example, qualified health plan insurers that have been registered for at least one year are required to provide oral and written translation services to consumers in a minimum of 150 languages.

It is important to remember that the translation of the Summary of Benefits and Coverage is not just a matter of compliance, but of inclusion. Providing resources for a growing and diverse population should always be a priority.

Integration Between Tools: Make It Work

Integration Between Tools: Make It Work

Within the localization industry, there is a wide range of technology solutions. For instance, some computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools are specifically designed to translate mobile applications, while others work perfectly for website localization or software development. They also vary in complexity, size or usability. Quality assurance (QA) checks as well as terminology and project management features are also factors that change among translation tools.

Operating in a business with such diverse opportunities implies that sometimes we have to work in very different tools, with their pros and cons. For example, a client may require vendors to use a certain software application, say, a web-based editor, that may not be that handy if the hired Language Service Provider needs to coordinate simultaneously the work of several linguists. When this happens, the management team can obtain better results both in terms of quality and time by exporting files, termbases and translation memories, and then work in a more suitable CAT tool. This is what we call integration between tools.

Reasons and Benefits

Working across tools is possible thanks to XLIFF files, which are a kind of XML-based format. They are compatible with any localization software, thus they can be exported and imported between different applications.

There are multiple reasons for using a different CAT tool than the one originally provided. However, this decision is only convenient in some specific scenarios, and must be always done with clients’ approval. For instance, some web-based editors only allow one linguist to log in at a time. In that case, exporting the files and using a desktop application may be a better option if the project managers (PMs) need to put together a large team of vendors. Desktop versions allow the management team to properly divide the amount of work and assign it neatly. Having total control over document batches and assignments also results in reducing production time. PMs can establish a schedule with partial deliveries, so translators and editors can work simultaneously.

QA Power

However, the salient advantage of exchanging files within tools is the possibility of using different quality assurance (QA) utilities. In the market, there are many options of specialized software for automation of QA, such as Xbench or Verifika. CAT tools also include different types of quality control features, so it may be helpful to run checks in more than one software. Both specialized software and integrated functionalities spot and resolve errors in bilingual files, detecting formatting, consistency, terminology, grammar and spelling errors, and numeric and tag mismatches. Linguists can correct them manually or use the auto-correction feature these resources offer.

When to Integrate?

To tackle a project across tools is possible under certain conditions. First and foremost, working in a different software must be the best option for that particular case. The decision must be quality-driven and the result of a risk management approach. This is, after considering the original tool and the possibilities it offers, the management team decides that they will export the file and work with it in another software, because they will benefit incomparably from its features. Second, this workflow is only possible when web-platforms or applications allow importing/exporting using standardized files, such as XLIFF files. IT managers first test with small files whether the process runs correctly, and only in that case the workflow moves forward with the entire project.

Quality and value

Integrating files and tools is one of the ways in which project and quality assurance managers can add value during the translation process. They bring their experience, teamwork and analytical insight to assess which options can offer more quality and accuracy to the localization workflows they manage.


The Biggest Translation Mistake You Can Make

Communication is key. This is a somewhat trite statement, but is almost always a true one. While there are many translation mistakes that can be made, some of the biggest mistakes relate to improper communication with clients. Luckily, these mistakes are also some of the easiest to avoid. To ensure quality during the translation process, and in the final product, achieving accuracy and properly capturing the intended effect of the text are of the utmost importance. Consider taking these steps to avoid the biggest translation mistake you can make: miscommunication.

Don’t Rely on Translation Memory

Translation memories (TMs) store text that was previously translated in a database format. The text can include specific words or longer fragments of text such as sentences and paragraphs. Clients occasionally provide their TMs to the translator which can be helpful. However, it’s worth noting that a translator should not prioritize a TM as a resource over a glossary or style guide. This is because TMs can contain mistakes, whereas glossaries list already approved terminology that the client themselves has vetted. A glossary can help clear up any confusion a translator encounters regarding word choice. However, if a translator doesn’t agree with a translation or believes it to be incorrect, speaking with the client about the issue and coming to an agreement about how best to move forward is a wise course of action. 

Discuss the Details

A strong attention to detail is a valuable skill to have in any field of work, but especially so in the translation industry. In translation projects, there may be areas of text that are ambiguous or even incorrect. If a translator is unsure about certain aspects of text they are translating or if they are using the ideal word choice, it can be worthwhile to discuss those details with the client. Trickier aspects of translation such as acronyms or areas of text that require transcreation are worth making note of so that everybody is on the same page. 

Request Client Feedback

Asking for client feedback is a strong communication tool that can help the translator learn more about the client’s expectations. It also allows for an opportunity to learn from mistakes made. This feedback is particularly important after taking a translation test. Even if you’ve passed a translation test, you can learn from asking about what you did right. Ask the client questions about what areas of the test they liked or if there are any terms or phrases they would like to be different moving forward. Keep an open mind and learn from their feedback to make your next project even more successful.

Ask The Right Questions

One of the best steps a translator can take to avoid the mistake of miscommunication, is to ask questions. Before, during, and upon finishing a project, it is of the utmost importance to ask the right questions. One area of the work worth clarifying is knowing what a client needs in order to provide an accurate translation. In some cases this may include providing certain context, references, visuals, or guidelines. In other cases, you may need to know if you should prioritize TMs over a glossary, or if you should reference previous published translations.

Never take anything for granted. Throughout the translation process, asking questions can help avoid mistakes and ensure quality. Communicating openly with the client to avoid making unnecessary mistakes will result in a better experience for both parties.

How to Tap Into the Potential of E-Learning Authoring Tools

How to Tap Into the Potential of E-Learning Authoring Tools

It’s no secret that e-learning is all the rage these days. Many educators and employers have had no choice but to adapt their in-person lessons and training into a digital format in 2020. Unfortunately there was little warning that we needed to head in a more digital direction this year, so many e-learning courses are quickly being pulled together with PowerPoint presentations and homemade videos, and by using outdated tools like Flash. Investing in e-learning authoring tools is a great way to create quality content that is engaging and fun. These tools are easy to use and can make the entire process of e-learning better from start to finish. 

Essential Features of E-Learning Authoring Tools

Moving away from traditional education approaches and tapping into the potential of the available e-learning authoring tools can open the door to some really helpful features. While features vary based on which e-learning authoring tool you choose to utilize, these are some of the major benefits worth considering that most tools offer. 

  • Quizzes and surveys are a great way to boost engagement and to review how well the user is retaining the information presented to them. You can also use surveys to collect feedback from your users.
  • Video lectures and screencasts allow you to share video tutorials which can be more engaging for users. It can also be easier to present software tutorials over video instead of written text.
  • Interactive elements are another perk of working with e-learning authoring tools. 
  • Branching scenarios are possible with the use of e-learning authoring tools and allow the learner to make choices that affect how the course proceeds. Instead of following a linear experience, branching scenarios enable individual learning experiences and gives the creator a better understanding of the user’s knowledge. For example, if the user makes a mistake during texting, branching scenarios can then direct them to review the section they misunderstood.
  • Mobile learning support allows users to access their e-learning courses from their phones in a way that is convenient and easy to use. This functionality is practical and gives users to access their e-learning courses from virtually anywhere, at any time.

If you’re looking to take your educational content to the next level, there are some pretty handy e-learning authoring tools on the market such as: Articulate Storyline, Adobe Captivate, and Lectora Inspire.

Simplifying the Localization Process

Another major benefit of utilizing e-learning authoring tools is how much easier they make integrating the localization process. You can use these tools to easily export course content for localization. Properly localizing an e-learning course will create a more engaging and effective learning experience for the user. 

Localization doesn’t just translate content word for word. Culture, context, and intent are all taken into account as well. This can extend past just written text and affects photos, music, jokes, cultural references, word play, and more. 

Because e-learning courses for employee training can include complex technical jargon, acronyms, abbreviations, and regional slang, it’s important that your user has access to that vital information in a clear and digestible way.