Gisting: Cost Effective Translation Services

What is gisting?

Gisting is a short summary of document in the language of the users of the text. The text is not translated, but rather the linguist analyzes the text in the source language and restates the essential information. Gisting is often used in lengthy legal documents or government intelligence work, when key names and details are needed. This allows users to pinpoint specific passages for full translation.


The Customer: A United States Government Intelligence Agency

The Challenge: To gist over 7750 Simplified Chinese and French documents  for English-speaking US government investigators. The nature of the investigation meant that a very quick turnaround time was required, and all linguists had to pass security checks.  All of this had to be done with cost effectiveness in mind.

The Solution: The client provided a list of pertinent information to be noted as well as required a summary of each page, but the CETRA project manager needed to determine the best way to accurately sort through over two million foreign language words for the investigators—on time and within budget.The project manager analyzed the files and created a timeline for the thousands of pages to be gisted. CETRA diligently assigned Chinese and French translators who resided in the US and had a United States security clearance, giving detailed instructions to ensure a consistent final product. The translators summarized each page and completed a detailed Excel “triage” document, noting document information and dates and names of individuals or companies mentioned in the document. The content was highly sensitive and technical in nature.

Upon receipt from the translators, the project manager re-formatted the document, and reviewed it for completion and consistency. Everything was delivered on time with rave reviews from the client. Rather than paying per word, the client was charged an hourly rate according to translator work time. Project management fees were included in the cost of gisting.

Customer benefits: CETRA’s project manager, the single point of contact with the client, was able to answer any questions, and communicate effectively between the linguists and the client—saving the client time by mediating questions from the two dozen linguists working on the project and efficiently presenting them to the client. The project manager also had the foresight to effectively divide the work as to allow enough time for final internal quality assurance, delivering before the due date. They also had a clean, easy-to-read final deliverable, which allowed them to successfully complete their project. Most importantly, CETRA’s gisting solution saved its government client several hundred thousand dollars, as the gisted deliverable allowed the client to pinpoint only the most relevant passages for full translation.