Translators have many tools available to make their work more efficient; however, most of these tools are geared toward technical translators, breaking an original text into segments (sometimes a specific number of words, sometimes a sentence), which are then translated into the target language. Although this feature is practical for technical translations and for those who wish to create a translation memory bank, it is not very useful for literary translators. Literary translations need a more natural linguistic flow requiring, at times, placement of TL text in ways that do not line up with the OL text.

One tool already used by many scholars, Scrivener, can also serve for literary translation and organizing translation workflow. Additionally, Scrivener can be useful for those who prefer to dictate their work or work with audio/video transcriptions (for more information, see this article from the Chronicle for Higher Education‘s Prof. Hacker). Unfortunately, Scrivener is not free, but it is reasonably priced (less than $50 and one can get a 30-day free trial) and there are Mac and PC versions.

Here is a simple way to set up Scrivener for your translation workflow:

Once you have downloaded the Scrivener version most appropriate for you, open the application.

Click File > New Project (Opens a “Project Templates” box)

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Click “Blank” on the upper left side of the box (the other options have specific settings that are a bit more complicated to change).

Click “Choose” on the lower right side of the box (Opens a “Save As” box in which you can give your project a name.

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Your page will now look like this:

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Click View > Layout > Split Vertically. This will divide your initial screen into two columns.

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In the left screen, copy & paste your original text. In the right screen, enter your translation. In the example below, there are song lyrics in Portuguese on the left and a quick translation of the lyrics on the right.

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Once you have finished your translation, you can export it into another word processing program, such as MS Word. First, with your cursor on the screen you want to export, click View > Layout > No Split. You should only see one screen, the one with your translation on it.

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Then click File > Export > Files (choose desired format from a drop-down menu).

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And now you have your finished translation in the format you want.