Formatting Manga Translations

Many people want to translate manga but there is not much information on how to start translating manga. This series looks at different aspects of translating manga for beginners, with the aim of helping you be a great manga translation and improve the overall quality of manga translation online.

Translating Japanese SFX in MangaTranslating Manga for Beginners
Part 1: Resources
Part 2: Translating SFX (Sound Effects)
Part 3: Good Manga Translation
Part 4: Translating Accents
Part 5: Formatting Translations in Word Files

This post looks at how format manga translation, in other words, how to write your translation in word or notepad so that the proof reader, typesetter etc., knows what text is where in the manga.

Every manga translation company and scanlation group have different formats that their translators use. Because everyone is different it helps to ask how they standardize their translations before you start translating.

Often official companies will provide you with a style guide to follow which will describe their standardised formatting. If you apply to a company and get one of these read it over and over until you know what they’re after, and then double check once you’re done translating.

When translating for a scanlation ground ask them what formatting they normally use, although more often than not they will be happy with you using your own formatting as long as it’s easy to work with.


Different Formatting Techniques

All of these are suggestions worth considering, but what you use will depend on how you’d like to translate. It often helps to add a key to the top of the translation for a scanlation group that doesn’t use standardised formatting (especially if you use a lot of formatting techniques).

    • Formatting Manga TranslationsIndicate your page number:
      Page 1
      [P.g 1]


    • Indicate the chapter number / name


    • Indicate panel either by number or dashes:
      1:  Takumi: That was fun.
      Kirita: Yeah, it was.OR>>
      Takumi: That was fun.
      Kirita: Yeah, it was.


    • Formatting Manga TranslationsIndicate who is talking
      Kuriko: Me?


    • Use FX or SFX for sounds:
      FX: splat
      SFX: splat


    • *…* for signs and the like:


    • @…@ for handwritten text:
      @I guess so…@


    • _…_ for emphasis, italicized titles, etc:
      Formatting Manga TranslationsI _can’t_ believe you’d do that!


    • (…) for font notes i.e (bigger), (smaller), (bold):
      Kuriko: I (bold)


    • Separate double bubbles (image on the right):
      Ok!! // let’s go!!
      Eh… wha…? // Where are we going…?!


These are just a few of the most common formattings you’ll see. If you want a better idea of how different people format their translations then check out people’s manga translations on Manga Helpers. It’s a also a great site of asking questions about translating manga, phrases and formatting your work.

If you’re serious about becoming a manga translator professionally I strongly suggest translating a lot of manga (perhaps a few volumes of a manga without furigana) and really smooth lining your translations before you apply to any companies.

If you have any questions feel free to ask me on the Japanese Talk Online Facebook or on my thread on Manga Helpers.


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