Even though the popularity of CAT tools is growing, not all translators choose to implement this software into their daily workshop. Reasons vary from financial ones to the fear of not being able to operate the tool efficiently. Moreover, the wide array of CAT tools makes it impossible for a single person to purchase licenses for them all. Companies or customers that want to have projects stored in their CAT tools may cooperate with non-CAT users or different CAT tool users thanks to the RTF format files. We would like to explain the specificity of this file format.

What does a CAT-generated RTF file look like?

The abbreviation means “rich text format.” The files that you can generate from your CAT tool may look slightly different (e.g. some have colouring or logos, others are plain), but the principle is the same. It looks like a table of usually four columns, each with a different purpose. The first one shows segment number, the same as you can see in the CAT editor. The second one contains segmented source text and the third is where the translator inserts the text in the target language. The last column is about the status – it says whether the segment was pretranslated from translation memory or MT, if it is locked (so uneditable) in the CAT tool, etc. Once the column with the target text is filled in, the RTF file can be uploaded into the software and the translation automatically uploaded into the TM.

Important to remember

RTF files allow for translation and editing outside CAT. Just as in the editor, it’s crucial to pay attention to formatting tags, usually in the form of numbers in various brackets, e.g. [1}, [4], {8]. They make it possible to retain the formatting of the source file. It is also important to have an equal number of tags in the source and target – otherwise the file will not be properly imported to the CAT tool and the PM will have to check the RTF file segment by segment.

Working in RTF files is quite comfortable as the linguist can see the corresponding source segment in the left-hand column at all times. The most important guideline for handling them is to keep the original layout and insert tags into the target column – that’s all!

If you would like to know more about the way we handle RTF files or CAT tools, do not hesitate to contact us.

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