Commonly required in life science industries (especially biotechnology, biomedical devices, environmental, medical and pharmaceuticals), localising scientific documents is essentially an exercise in translation and image localisation. Much has already been written about the translation aspect, so we’ve put together a few tips about image localisation to help you ensure a smooth localisation process.Successfully localising scientific images The scientific community has a specific set of guidelines that governs the manipulation of images. When localising those images – irrespective of how they are initially created – the guidelines must be followed so as to successfully deliver a document that meets the community’s rigorous standards.Scientific images should always be handled carefully

  • Save originals: Original images may be needed to verify that localised images are comparable to the original. The original image remains the only valid reference in the event that a localised image is questioned.
  • Ensure sensible compression: Lossy file compression methods such as those used by some JPEG formats transform the image data, and are therefore not suitable for scientific images. Lossless file compression formats, for example PNG, can safely be used as they reduce the size of the image file while maintaining the integrity of the image data.
  • Treat Digital Images as Data: During the localisation process, digital scientific images must be carefully manipulated and should incur no change that could lead to a misinterpretation of the image.

Scientific images should not undergo:

  • Retouching: Cloning and copying objects into an image or from other parts of the image in order to cover up imperfections is inappropriate. If an image cannot be used, it should be replaced with another image.
  • Filtering: The use of software filters to improve image quality tends to degrade data. Such tools are not appropriate to handle biological images.
  • Intensity Measurements: Ideally intensity measurements should be performed on the original. If done at a later stage, it should be performed on uniformly processed image data and calibrated to a known standard.

Scientific images can safely undergo:

  • Simple Adjustments: Adjustments – such as brightness, contrast and levels – that help view the information present on an image are usually acceptable, but must be explained and documented.
  • Cropping: Cropping an image is usually acceptable so long as it doesn’t change the context of what remains on the image.
  • Resizing: Image size should be changed only once using a magnification scale bar prior to changing the total number of pixels.

The localisation provider and the localised document should be required to meet all of the scientific community’s standards, equally for text translation or image localisation.