A friend of mine -not a translator- was accurately commenting about my previous post, that few people really know how to use spreadsheets.
So why should professional translators be savvier than the rest of the population?
Professionals, be they translators or other, do not get much of a say in this. When your client determines that it’s more productive or cost-effective for them to use spreadsheets instead of word processing files for their copy, if you want to retain that client, there isn’t much you can do, but to learn to use a spreadsheet. Hence my surprise, and the post. The good news is that you don’t even have to learn the rich features of the spreadsheet, since you are using the tool to do something that it isn’t even meant for: word processing.
One of the downsides with that policy is that a spreadsheet has none of the comfort of a word processor. When other factors allow it, I export columns and translate them in a word processor, then re-export the translated copy. This is still quicker than applying my translation memory procedures to the original spreadsheet file.
Another major problem I see is that by cutting up copy such as a marketing pitch, into cell-size bits (one or two sentences long), you run the risk of breaking the flow of ideas and end up translating in a very mechanical way, losing sight of the forest (the overall pitch) for the trees (each separate cell). That entails even more post-editing, since you want to adapt your client’s content to the feel of the foreign language and market.