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  • Writer's pictureRick White - Director of Client Services

Word Doc Survey Translation: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

What are the pros and cons of translating Word Documents?

Whether you’re new to market research translation or a seasoned expert, you may, on occasion, be in need of Word Doc survey translation services. But there’s a more efficient way to have your surveys translated. Translating a questionnaire or survey from a Word Doc can be time consuming, costly, and prone to error. So let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of Word Doc survey translation.

The Good (sort of)

An obvious benefit to using Word Docs is that everyone’s familiar with them. When your end client plans to review the translations, they may think Word Docs will be easier and more convenient to handle. But this isn’t actually the case. More on that later . . . There’s also the perception that using Word Docs for market research translation projects cuts down the time. When timelines are tight, it might seem like it’d speed things along to send surveys to translators and programmers simultaneously. After all, how long could it really take to copy and paste the translations into your platform on the back end? Not that long . . . or so you’d think.

The Bad: Pitfalls of Word Doc Survey Translation

Hidden or Missing Text Segments: They’ll Sneak up on You

A Word Doc survey likely doesn’t contain all translatable text. Your survey may not include hidden text, such as error messages. You might spot these while pasting translations into your platform, but you also might not. Needless to say, retroactively fixing the problem will likely add time and increase Word Doc survey translation costs on the back end.

Word Doc Survey Translation: Time Consuming and Prone to Error

If your translated survey is delivered to you in a Word Doc, you’ll need to copy and paste the translations into your survey platform. This is known as “overlay.” This manual overlay process can be very time consuming. After all, you—or some other unfortunate soul—will have to sift through every bit of text and copy and paste it into exactly the right places in the programmed survey. Another disadvantage? Copying and pasting is prone to human error. Especially the person doing the overlay isn’t fluent in the target language: there’s a good chance that some segments will get pasted incorrectly. For English speakers, transferring texts in the one of the Romance languages like French or Spanish might not be as much of a hurdle. But when your survey includes languages with different alphabets like Arabic, Hindi, or Hebrew, it can be a lot more difficult to accurately copy and paste.

The Ugly (no really . . . it can get pretty ugly)

Does your end client want to review the translated survey? If you export an XML file from Confirmit into a Word Doc, you’ll end up with something that looks like this:

Image result for confirmit file exported to Word

There’s programming language everywhere, and it’s not immediately clear what does or doesn’t need to be translated. Programming code for things like inserts and ternary operators don’t always make sense to reviewers if they’re unfamiliar with the functions of these features.

Leaving the Wild West Behind through Survey Platforms

These are just a few reasons why seeking Word Doc survey translation services for your market research translation project might not be the best route. Depending on your process, there may be other things to consider. Luckily, all of major survey platforms are designed to work with translation, including Confirmit. Translation vendors with expertise in market research translation can help you improve your process, and should be comfortable working with the various survey platforms. If you’re interested in learning about what we can do to help make your international survey project a success, check out our market research translation services page.


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