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Translating Web sites

Today, being able to translate HTML is crucial, for obvious reasons, and about every translator will accept HTML files. Yet, although it's not politically correct to mention this here, truth is that many translators don't know enough about HTML and websites to do a professional job.

There are LOTS of good HTML tutorials around, but they are all intended for webmasters wannabes or even professional webmasters, and skip important issues a translator should be aware of. I hope this fills in the gap and helps you do a better job.

If you are already well familiar with HTML, Keywords handling and style sheets, go straight to page 4 for more on preparing an HTML file for translation and doing the translation itself.

HTML issues

What is HTML and how does it work? HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. Hypertext is text characterized by the presence of links. Take a book. You read from the beginning and move toward the end. With hypertext, you can have access immediately to the information you are looking for by clicking on links.

An HTML file is a simple text file with a “htm” or “html” extension. Do the following experiment: Take a simple text file, “whatever.txt" and rename it to “whatever.htm”. Double click on it and it will display in your default web browser. Now, you will note that there are no links. There are no bold, no underlines, no tables, no pictures and not even paragraph marks.

HTML is the "language" that you use to tell the browser (Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla, Opera...) how the page should be displayed and what it should do in different situations (the user click on a link, the navigator finds the page and displays it, for instance). To do that, it uses “markup”. A markup - or tag - is a small piece of code that provides this information. In HTML, tags are made of a “<” sign, some code and a “>” sign. Case is not important.

For instance “<b>” tells the browser that whatever information follows that tag should be displayed in bold. Now, unless you want everything to be displayed in bold, there must be another tag to tell the browser where it should stop to display the text in bold. That tag is “</b>”. Note the “/” sign. The tag triggering the bold display (<b>) is called an opening tag. The tag canceling the action of the opening tag (</b>) is called a closing tag. There are tags for about every formatting option: italics, underline, color, size… You will find them very easily on the net.

There are other types of tags in an HTML document. For instance, there are tags detailing the structure of the page and its general behavior. An HTML page is usually as follow:

<HTML> (To tell the browser that this page is in HTML)
(Header. Contains information about the page that will not be displayed, but can nevertheless influence the display.)
</HEAD> (Closes the “<head>” tag, indicating the end of the "head" section.)
(The actual page. This is what you see when you open the page in the browser)
</BODY> (Closing tag for <body>)
</HTML> (Closing tag for <html>)

You need not change the structure tags when you translate.

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