One of my longstanding and favorite clients recently suggested that their translators and editors start using PerfectIt, an editing tool that works within MS Word. After trying it, I found its features very helpful for certain types of translations. This is not an affiliate deal, but I think into-English translators should consider adding PerfectIt to their arsenal of editing tools.
PerfectIt is not really a spelling and grammar checker, but rather an enforcer of consistency, and of consistent style and formatting. I may find it more helpful than many people do, because I don’t have the best internal consistency-checker. I’m the person who’s always scrolling back through the document, wondering if I used CEO or Chief Executive Officer back in the previous section. PerfectIt is great for just these kinds of things. Once installed, it works within MS Word, via a button on the navigation ribbon. After launching PerfectIt, the look and feel are pretty similar to MS Word’s own spelling and grammar checker. The tool cycles through a variety of checks, finds any problems, and asks you whether you want to fix them or leave them.
As an example, I used PerfectIt last night to check a 5,000 word translation. I had translated this file in Trados–which has some built in QA checks. Then I had spelling and grammar-checked it in MS Word. Still, PerfectIt found many areas for improvement, such as:
- Words that I hyphenated in some places but not others (underutilized under-utilized)
- Words where I had used two different spellings that are both correct, but inconsistent (gray, grey)
- Expressions that I capitalized in some places but not others (the Government’s agenda, the government’s agenda)
- Bullet items that ended in inconsistent punctuation; PerfectIt asks you whether you want to end bullet items with no punctuation, a comma, or a semicolon, and then it enforces that rule
- Inconsistent capitalization in section headings (Initial Caps versus ALL CAPS)
- Acronyms that I defined more than once instead of only in the first instance
- Various other inconsistencies that are hard to find in Word unless you enjoy macros and regular expressions: numbers below 10 not spelled out, improper thousands separators in numbers converted from European format, etc.
The checking process for a 5,000 word document took about 10 minutes.
Of course the hitch is that your document must be in MS Word, because PerfectIt does not work as a standalone program or as a plugin (plug-in? plug in?) to any other program. You could (sort of) hack a similar process together using Word macros and regular expressions, or make an extensive QA checklist and run it manually. But I do think PerfectIt is worth a look for most translations. There’s a 14-day free trial, and the paid version is US $99.
Readers, any feedback on PerfectIt or other editing tools?