There are quite a few reasons to have a human translator for school transcripts, and these reasons have to do with very different issues. First is certifying the translation, and second is the issues concerning formatting; i.e, Desk Top Publishing (DTP) work, or Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and exporting the file to Word. These costs should be included in the quote to the client, as additional steps become necessary in the process.
All universities require certified translations, and some require that the translator hold a particular certification, such as that from the American Translators Association. As is generally known, machine translations can only be used for “informational purposes,” and cannot be certified by a “competent person.” Some agencies perform their own certifications, at a small additional charge to the client.
As to formatting, schools have unique templates that they use. Brazilian universities, for example, have a standard template, but each year they may make a small modification to the header text or the font, or there may be a different signing official. This creates another step in the translation process; either the translator or an in-house DTP specialist has to create these templates, paying attention to possible modifications. This takes time, even if the translator or agency keeps previous templates on hand.
Another alternative used is to OCR and export a document into Word. Exporting to Word,however, tends to change the font and the table format itself. Doing this also creates at leastone more step, and perhaps two, as OCR does not pick up on accent marks. Here are a coupleof examples of the errors caused in exporting a document:
GERALFUNDAMENTOS DE SISTEMAS DE INFORMA<;AO *
All of these are OCR of Portuguese words ending in “ção.” It can be seen that someone familiar with Portuguese will have to add another step of pre-editing in order to prepare the file for the rest of the translation process, and that this person may need to be another translator rather than a DTP specialist.
All these steps can add to the client’s fees and create extra work for the agency’s professionals. One of these formatting alternatives will be necessary, although the second one could add two steps and significantly add to the client’s bill. It is important for translation agencies to keep track of additional steps in using human translation for transcripts and to include these in their quotes.