As it is, the preparation of documents for foreign language markets comes with more than enough challenges. As you manage your content across product lines (not to mention grappling with multiple versions), deadlines seem to loom larger with every passing keystroke. Keeping the deadline demon at bay requires a strategic approach. By preparing your technical content properly before document translation begins, you’ll save time and money in the long run, all while ensuring high quality document translation that’s tailored to your new market. The good news? This process doesn’t need to have you breaking out in hives. Here are ten tips to help you prepare for any document translation project, regardless of the target language.
1. Follow technical document writing best practices
· Always write in clear and concise sentences. Use limited dependent clauses. Expressing only one idea per sentence will help translators and also increase your savings from translation memory matches. · Avoid using idioms. These are easily misinterpreted. · Steer clear of cultural references to avoid your message getting lost in translation. · Never assume a symbol will be universally understood – make sure the market you’re talking to interprets the symbol you’ve used in the same way you do.
2. Use automation
Automating menial tasks like drawing up a Table of Contents, assembling index pages, checking that you’ve referenced correctly and testing internal and external links can save you a lot of time (and keep your sanity intact). By using style sheets, it’s infinitely easier to automatically apply any updates or format changes.
3. Prepare for text expansion
Translated material can often be longer than the source, so always account for some degree of text expansion. You’ll need to consider how this might impact artwork, graphics and graphs. It’s also important to bear in mind that your documents might need resizing.
4. Link your graphics
If possible, it’s always preferable to link graphics over embedding them. This eliminates you having to replace content in localized versions or when updating future content. Using linked graphics instead of embedded images also means smaller file sizes, which is preferable when using document translation tools.
5. Provide thorough instructions
It’s vital to include detailed instructions and outline the scope of the project, tools and versions when sending files to your localization consultants. Ensure that you’ve clearly indicated any information needed for achieving deliverables, including the format of the document (PDF, docx, html etc.), image types (jpeg, gif, png etc.), as well as any settings that may be necessary.
6. Organize your file submissions
When submitting documents to your translation service provider, you should include all the relevant material for the translation of the document in working order. Organized folder structures help to prevent the processing of unwanted files or overlooking critical ones. Disorganized file structures can also result in projects taking longer to get off the ground, as well as technical problems like dead links, which could cause errors in the compilation process.
7. Plan your updates
Sticking to a tight schedule with your updates helps mitigate as much reworking as possible, saving you time and money. If you’re working with a technical document translation service provider worth their salt, they’ll be able to provide advice on the best and most cost-effective way to coordinate document updates in the future.
8. Create a translation glossary and style guide
Every industry has its own lexicon of buzzwords, and what works well in one language might not translate as effectively into another. This is where a translation glossary and style guide come in handy. This document should include company-specific conventions, including corporate or industry terms, abbreviations, as well as the terms that should remain in English when the document is translated. In addition, the style guide should detail the tone required to in order to ensure that messaging is uniform throughout. Lastly, your glossary and style guide should be regularly reviewed and updated.
9. Inform your translation vendor about the subject matter of the content
As the saying goes, ‘the devil is in the details’. When it comes to document translation, the more information you give your translation service provider, the better the result. By supplying them with all of the relevant information, you’ll make it much easier for your vendor to source qualified translators who have experience in the subject matter or have extensive experience in the industry at hand.
10. Insist on Quality Assurance (QA)
Before you hire a translation service provider, find out what editing process your translation vendor uses. The (inefficient) industry standard is to have content go through the sequence of translator, editor, and then proofreader. This potentially leads to the editor and proofreader rewriting half the content, which begs the question: why not get the proofreader to do the translation from the start? Rubric uses a tried and tested method where their reviewer provides a feedback loop to the translator in order for them to be able to incorporate any corrections. This is the key difference between our method and the industry standard one – one which consistently leads to higher quality translations, and happier customers.
Contact us today to learn about how our localization and translation consulting services can bolster your success.
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