Managing Your Flock (of Files): 6 Simple Steps

Hundreds of files, with multiple versions, in multiple languages, with multiple review cycles. Add on several file formats for the same content–perhaps a .doc and a .pdf created from an InDesign layout file. If you love organization, this sounds exciting. For most of us, though, this can be enough to cause mild heart palpitations. Fear not. We’re doing this together.

Here are 6 Simple Steps to keep in mind (with explanations below):

  1. Group all files received from your client in one folder and create copies to work with
  2. Date each file version on your computer
  3. Label tracked versions (if it contains visible edits) and save a clean version of the same once edits are reviewed and accepted
  4. Add the language code to each file name
  5. Group final, delivered version of each file in one folder for easy retrieval
  6. Depending on the project size, create one folder for each file and all of its versions

Why Organize?

Beyond the obvious objective of fast file retrieval, consider the following when organizing files:

  • Translation review and edit cycles by professional translators as well as end-clients ensure an error- free file, consistent with previous translations and adjusted to the end-client’s preferences;
  • Approval cycle: certain industries (such as the Medical field) require approval by an authority such as a government agency, before the file is released to the target audience;
  • Layout and production editing: after the translated text is laid out in the design software (often InDesign), a translator reviews the corresponding PDF to ensure that everything was transferred correctly from the source and is visually pleasing to the viewer. When an editor is available, the layout is also reviewed by the end-client.

Word is the Word

The Microsoft Word format .doc allows for clear and thorough tracking and version control. When editing, it allows you to:

  • Track your edits (or make un-tracked edits);
  • Accept or reject the edits suggested by reviewers;
  • Clearly see who suggested which changes (tracked edits are attributed to the “author” of the edits)
  • Insert comments (or questions) into the file, attributed to the author of the comments

Naming Files: Keep it Simple

To allow for easy “search and rescue” of files, a consistent naming convention is crucial. For translation projects, we indicate the name of the file and its version, the delivery date of the translation, the language code of the translated language, and an indication of whether (or not) the file contains tracked edits.

This is what it would look like:

Accesories_PriceList_V1_ 23Oct2015_IT_Trckd

The clean version with accepted or rejected edits would look as follows:

Accesories_PriceList_V1_ 23Oct2015_IT

If some of the tracked edits are not acceptable to the owner of the file (usually the original translator), a comment will be made in the tracked version explaining the reason.

The date of creation of the source file being translated is typically inside the file. In this case, it would be the date on which V1 of the original Accessories’ Price List was created. If the original was created on October 15th, and if the original file were in English, then the name would most likely be:


This file name is often placed in the footer of the file.

Once a translation is completed, a folder containing all final, delivered versions is created. This folder may be called FINAL FILES. It is crucial that these be clearly marked so that every step can be traced–from the original source file to the final delivered file.

Depending on the size of the project, Tell typically carries:

  • One folder for each source file and all of its translations, named as described above;
  • One folder for all source files as received from the client;
  • One folder for all final, translated files to be released to the target audience.

If You Excel in Excel (vs. Word): Bear in Mind…

Though Excel allows you to track edits and add comments, the edits and comments are harder to see than in Word. With Excel, edits and comments are indicated by a small triangle in the corner of the corresponding cell. Excel allows users to define sections that can and cannot be edited.

The same rules described above can be applied to file naming in Excel.

And for PowerPoint

The main challenge with .ppt files is formatting, due to the fact that most languages are longer than English.  Tracking edits is not an option, but users can add comments and highlight text inside the file. When comments are made, a comment bubble shows in the upper left hand corner of the slide, and the comments window can be displayed on the right.

PowerPoint files are usually not bilingual. The original text is overwritten with the translation; therefore, the review process involves comparing two separate files. Notes can be added under each slide and may or may not require translation.

 Audio Translation Projects with Order

Audio translation projects include a script (typically in Word or in Excel format) to be read by the voice-over talent. Scripts in Word are easier to manipulate and edit, though if other factors may require that you use Excel, Tell works with both formats.

Audio files (often .wav or .MP3 files) are named according to the file name indicated in the script. For projects including a large number of files, keep in mind that in a PC folder all files will appear in ascending order by number or letter. It will be easier to compare and product check the audio files with the script if they are organized in the same way in the script.

Though there may be several versions of a script, there is most often only one version of each audio file. After Tell does a final quality check of the recording, we deliver the final audio file to our client.

If a re-recording of the translated audio file is necessary, then the previous version may be discarded or kept as an alternative.

Editing PDF Files

After a translation is laid out using design software (like InDesign), the PDF created from the artwork file still undergoes several review cycles:

  • First review by the translator
  • Product check by Tell’s project manager
  • Final review and approval by the client if a reviewer is available.

Tell labels versions through file naming by indicating the language and the date the PDF was created. Edits to a PDF are usually done by inserting comments inside of the PDF file. The designer then implements the changes in InDesign and creates a new PDF. After completing the proofing process by our translators and project manager, the file will be finalized and sent to the client for online use or print production.

Subtitle Files

For videos that require subtitling, Tell takes the video file and creates a master list of time-coded subtitles for translation. We then create a matching file in the language of translation, which is reviewed by a second translator and by the end-client if requested.

Often, the format of the master list does not allow tracking; therefore, we indicate edits by highlighting the edited word or sentence. File naming helps distinguish between versions. Once the translated file is finalized, subtitle files and on-screen graphics are created. If additional changes are required at this point, the subtitle or on-screen file will be replaced with the new file.

Website Files

Tracking of changes and version control is done in accordance with the source files.


Organizing files is not rocket science, but for many who are new to organizing files, it may feel as though you are trying to launch a space shuttle.  But rest assured, by implementing systems of organization, you’ll quickly increase your productivity, and wonder how you managed without it.