Formatting Reports For Translation Workers

When formatting your client’s reports and other documents for overseas markets, a translation worker should always place extra emphasis on good formatting.  This blog entry offers suggestions from several experienced translation workers with The Marketing Analysts Translation Services Company.  As you read through these, keep in mind that format requirements vary from organization to organization. In the absence of specific client requests, however, you will find the following advice broadly applicable.

High-Quality Paper

Print your final draft on 8 l/2-by-ll inch plain, white paper. Use heavy bond paper (20 lb. or higher) with a high fiber content (25 percent minimum).


Highlighting emphasizes key points and adds to a document’s attractiveness. Typical highlighting techniques include boldface, italics or underlining, and colored headings. Notice how these techniques are used on this website and adapt those you can.   Some Portland Translation services warn that translators should never overuse highlighting because it can negate its effect. For instance, excessive underlining is distracting. And don’t use too many different highlighting techniques on one page. Doing so causes confusion and clutter. Finally, be consistent in your use of one technique. For instance, if you begin using boldface for headings (or a certain level of heading), don’t switch to another technique. Or if you’re using italics for key terms, don’t switch to boldface. These switches confuse readers.


White space created by margins, spacing, and indention is vital to the appearance and readability of any document. New York City Italian Translation workers often suggest that translators leave the following margins on each page: top margin, l l/4 inches; bottom, l inch; left, l l/2 inches; right, l inch. The larger left margin leaves space for binding the report. Make your report easy to scan by double spacing within and between paragraphs.

Indent the first line of all paragraphs five spaces from the left margin. Be sure no illustrations extend beyond the inside limits of your margins. As a rule, avoid hyphenating a word at the end of a line; if you must hyphenate, check your dictionary for the correct place to break the word. White space also isolates and emphasizes. A text with ample white space is pleasing to the eye and easy to read. A text with small margins and without adequate white space between paragraphs, titles, and headings looks cramped and difficult.

Line Length

Excessively long lines cause eye strain; short lines cause the eye to jump back and forth. If your margins are set up as discussed above, you will have a 60-character line for larger-print typewriters (known as pica or l 0-pitch) or a 72-character line for the smaller-print typewriters (known as elite or 12-pitch). Word processing equipment usually follows these conventions, even allowing a choice of print sizes. Check the user’s manual. References to characters per inch, or cpi, are the same as pitch; l 0 cpi is l 0-pitch and so on.