Volodymyr Gubarkov

Stand With Ukraine

Create bilingual books yourself

February 2023

Bilingual books are incredibly useful for language learners.

I’ll outline a simple process for creating your own bilingual books.

1. Obtain the PDF

First, buy online or find a PDF of the book you want to turn into a bilingual. It must be in a language you’re learning.

2. Translate the PDF

Next, you’ll need to translate the text of the source PDF into the language you know.

As complex as it sounds, as easy it is. I used the free online service https://www.onlinedoctranslator.com/en/translationform. Simply upload the source PDF and receive a translated version (Google Translate is used). Of course, you can also just use Google Translate for documents with the same result.

For those who object to using Google Translate here. It’s true that automatic translations aren’t always perfect. But for our task it’s not a big deal. We use authentic source text, and it’s fine to use less perfect translation. Besides, automatic translations have improved significantly in recent years.

3. Merge the source & translated PDFs

This step is a bit tricky and technical. You need to merge the two PDFs, but in a specific way.

You need to build a merged PDF where the source and translated PDF pages go interleaved. That is: 1st page source, 1st page translated, 2nd page source, 2nd page translated, and so on.

I used a pdftk tool for that

sudo apt install pdftk

and came up with a small automation script to do the job: prepare_joined.awk.

Just run

awk -f prepare_joined.awk source.pdf translated.pdf 

You’ll get combined.pdf as a result.

4. Generate the final bilingual book PDF

To do so just open the combined PDF in Google Chrome and hit Print.

The key point here is to use Pages per sheet: 2 setting.

5. Profit!

Now you can just print the final PDF on paper or put it to your Kindle. Enjoy your bilingual book!

If you noticed a typo or have other feedback, please email me at xonixx@gmail.com