Case study about translating labels for a company producing organic herbal teas and spices

Hi there dear readers!

Some time ago I truly enjoyed a project involving labels of herbal teas and spices that had to be translated into Italian, so I thought of sharing this with you.

tea bagsThe customer had 40+ labels as *.pdf files to be translated. They sent me an editable file where I had to insert the translation. In this way I was able to work faster and in a more consistent way.
However, the customer cleverly sent me the *.pdf files too, so that I could draw from the images, the layout and the colour palette to provide an appropriate translation. This is always a good idea!

A few things to check were:

– Are there any character limits for the translation? We don’t want the graphic designer to get crazy!
– Are there any previous versions of the labels? If so, do they need to be checked again/re-translated or are they acceptable? To err is human; to persist is of the devil 😉

After sharing comments and insights, I checked the drafts prepared by the graphic designer for spelling, punctuation and hyphenation (how words are divided into syllables) mistakes.
For example, while in German quotation marks are „  “, in Italian they are “” and the German version would make a strange impression on a label. All these comments were made on annotated *.pdf files so that my software could talk with the graphic designer’s.

And after this check, off to printing!!!

And do you have similar experiences or advice you would like to share?

Thanks in advance for your comments!

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How to identify (arguably) bad translators from their cover letters

Hi there dear readers!

atI don’t know why, but sometimes I receive applications from freelance translators. I usually reply that I can’t help them as I’m not a potential direct client or a translation agency. However, it’s always interesting to see how colleagues market themselves as there can be some inspirational – or at least thought-provoking – material.
Below what I received some time ago and I would classify it under the thought-provoking category (the original is in italics and my comments are in square brackets).

[no name, it means that this is very likely to be a mass email, so no previous research about who recipients might be/do/etc.]

My name is XYZ; I am writing to offer my services as a freelance translator and proof-reader of XYZ into ZXY
[nice and simple]
and vice versa
[even if it’s not always true that translators should only translate into their native language, this is very very often the case, so I would be very careful here as one of the language directions could be of lower quality than its counterpart],
as my native language is XYZ.

I have an MA in En and DE literature.
[‘En’ and ‘DE’ are not capitalised consistently. This definitely doesn’t help in marketing oneself as a proofreader 😦 ]

I am interested in translating texts about literature, medical, law, social science, education, marketing, management, business, commerce, and general articles.
[I think there is a bit too much here to be able to perform a great job in every field. I would have added 3 specialisations only]
I can use smart dictionaries and glossaries
[if you work as translator and proofreader, I would take this for granted]
as well as Trados and MS Office 2019.

I have been working as a translator for 20 years.
[great! You might want to say this straight away to impress your reader]

My daily output is 3000 words
[fast translators usually have an output of 2000 words/day, 3000 words/day is a bit suspicious. Also, it really depends on several factors such as topic, expert knowledge, etc., so it is not a great idea to state a figure here],
and my best rates are .XX€ for translation and .XXX€ for proofreading
[I would suggest to keep rates for a later negotiation stage as there are things such as rush jobs, overnight work, etc. that need to be taken into consideration].

My English resume is attached
[actually, there was no resume attached at all],
and I will be glad to work with your respected company.

I am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours faithfully,


Have you ever received emails like this one? If so, do you usually reply?

Thanks in advance for your comments!

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My impressions of WeCosmoprof 2020 back in June

Hi there dear readers!

As you probably know, this year Cosmoprof, one of the world leading fairs for the beauty industry, was at first postponed from March to June and then went fully online with the digital event WeCosmoprof from 4th to 10th June.

I had the chance to attend and I would like to share my thoughts with you:

– The online platform MyMatch allowed you to contact not just a company, but also a specific person because companies could list their employees and job titles. Definitely a time-saving feature!

– Sadly, like Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage, all conversations, people’s names and titles disappeared at the end of the event, so it was crucial to take notes, screenshots, connect on different platforms and so on

– The chatbot of MyMatch wasn’t a great help as I tried several times to reformulate my questions, but I always received very general answers

– I should have complied my profile as fair attendee in a different way because, since I had ticked the box identifying me as a decision maker in the purchasing process, I was flooded with offers of brushes, teeth whiteners and so on from companies who didn’t even bother to check that I was there as a translator! 🙂

– The June edition of WeCosmoprof lasted only 7 days which wasn’t enough for me to achieve everything on my to-do list. I’m glad the next edition will last 14 days!

– I look forward to the next WeCosmoprof session from 5th to 18th October, although I do hope to be able to attend the fair in person very soon

And did you attend WeCosmoprof? What did you think about it?

Thanks in advance for your comments!

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