Scanlation Process

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Related terms: Scanlation
See also: History of Scanlation, Scanlation Ethics
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As its name suggests, scanlating mainly involves scanning printed manga/comics into digitized files, then translating them.

General Process

Procedures for different scanlation groups can vary greatly, but a typical scenario for a group scanlating one chapter a week from a series running in a weekly manga magazine might look similar to the following:

  1. The raw provider obtains a copy of the printed magazine, carefully removes the relevant manga pages, and scans them at very high resolution. The resulting set of files, called the "raw" (i.e. the preprocessed chapter, still in Japanese), is bundled together in an archive file and sent to other members of the scanlation group.
  2. Cleaners begin to edit the scanned pages to improve picture quality, clarity, and readability on the digital screen. Most manga running in magazines are printed in monochrome, but usually on low-quality paper similar to newsprint, which may be greyish or pastel-colored; this is converted into true black and white. Cleaners also generally remove the Japanese text during this stage to prepare for the translation. Cleaning can be done by one person or multiple people, and each person may clean the pages individually or take part in cleaning all pages up to a certain extent to ensure uniformity. Cleaning methods vary widely and may include additional stages such as pre-cleaning, scripting, and touch-ups.
  3. Often simultaneously with the cleaners, the translator works on translating all dialogue and other text from Japanese into their target language. This is generally compiled into a text file and subsequently distributed to the typesetter. Translating is usually done by one person.
    • In some groups a proof-reader will examine the draft translation and clean up translation mistakes or fix style problems. Additional rudimentary edits may be performed by the typesetter(s).
  4. The typesetter collects the translated script and the cleaned page scans and combines the two into a digitized manga chapter with translated dialogue. Typesetting can be done by one person or several, but usually just one to ensure uniformity.
    • Sometimes typesetting and cleaning is grouped together as editing, done by an editor.
  5. The resulting set of files, the finished scanlation, is distributed to various websites for readers to download.
    • Some groups have a quality-check stage before distribution, to ensure the quality of the manga chapter and make changes before final release.

Depending on the size of a given scanlation team, duties may divided up between specific people, or they may be worked on simultaneously by several. Division of labor varies widely depending on group members' particular talents. Raw scanning, translating, and typesetting are generally handled by one person each, while cleaning is generally handled by multiple people, and one person may take part in multiple steps.


A number of groups do not translate directly from the original language, and instead re-scanlating is common. In manga fandom, it is especially common for groups to re-scanlate Japanese→English scanlations into the target language, i.e. to translate from the English translation into Russian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, etc. instead of translating directly from Japanese.

Many groups choose to re-scanlate due to the availability of translators who speak both English and their target language. It is also much easier, since only the translation needs to be edited.

Some groups freely give permission for their scanlations to be re-scanlated, while other groups forbid it. Re-scanlating with permission generally involves crediting the original group as well in the new scanlation credits.

Re-scanlating without permission can be cause for much animosity between groups. For example, although Chinese scanlations (for popular titles such as Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach) have in the past surfaced before other groups even had a raw, Chinese→English re-scanlations are uncommon because the Chinese groups have traditionally been strongly against re-scanlating these releases; C→E scanlations generally only happen without permission, which is frowned upon by the greater scanlating community. See also Scanlation Ethics.

See Also