Localization Archives | Rubric


If you’ve ever been involved in the content authoring and publication process, you’re probably already familiar with how quickly costs and timelines can get out of hand once you factor in localization. Even for a short document, when you’re translating into 10 or more languages the workload can be immense.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. If you take localization into account right from the outset when you approach global content authoring, it is possible to drastically streamline the process and make major cost savings.

The key here is writing English content that is both easy to translate and easy to reuse. When your original text is clear and concise, it will be cheaper to translate. And if your content can be reused across multiple deliverables, you only have to pay for that translation once. It’s far more efficient to optimize the English version at the beginning of the process than it is to fix individual translations that were based on unsuitable source material.

As with most simple ideas, following these principles is easier said than done – so we’ve put together this article to share our best practices for authoring with localization in mind. Applying these tips should help you save time and money on translation, while maximizing the quality of your localized content.


English as one of many

When writing your initial English content, think of it as having two purposes: it’s not just for consumption by English readers, it’s also the master template for all the other localized versions you’re going to create. It’s important to balance both of these purposes, and that means creating content that is both effective in English and easy to translate.

In practice, writing translation-friendly content comes down to clarity and concision. The shorter the document is and the easier it is to understand, the faster and cheaper it will be to accurately translate. And as the potential for errors drops, the quality of the content will rise. Keep it simple with these guidelines:

  • Avoid ambiguity – Try not to use words or phrases that could have multiple meanings. For example, “manual” could be both a noun or an adjective, but “user manual” and “manual pump” leave no room for misunderstanding. Ambiguities can easily lead to misinterpretations and translation errors.
  • Be clear – Ensure content is easy to follow by avoiding long, nested sentences. Even when multiple thoughts are closely connected, it’s best to separate them into simple, discrete sentences. In particular, it is essential to ensure that the subject of each sentence and clause is clear, since in many languages the subject directly influences word formation for the rest of the sentence.
  • Keep it consistent – Don’t use synonyms for their own sake. If you mean the same thing, use the same word or phrase. Keeping terminology consistent will make the content much easier to follow for both translators and readers. (More on this later.)
  • Short and sweet – When it comes to translation, every word costs money. With that in mind, you should ensure that each word in the English version is delivering value and deserves to be translated. Avoid using many words when a few would do. Modern content typically aims to inform readers rather than overtly sell to them, so there’s no need for flowery language – the goal should be to clearly convey meaning in the most concise way possible.


Writing for reuse
The value proposition

Before going any further, it’s worth taking a closer look at how translation costs are typically determined. The primary factor is word count, and the best way to reduce the number of words that need to be translated is by reusing existing content that has already been translated in the past.

Translation memory software stores all your previous translations, so if you employ exactly the same English phrases or sentences that you’ve used before, there won’t be any translation cost. That being said, the match has to be perfect. The smallest inconsistencies – even as minor as a single space or capitalization – will turn a precise match into a “fuzzy match” that still needs to be translated (albeit often at a reduced rate).

46 words in English =
598 words in 13 languages
Exact matches 18 new words in English =
234 new words
28 edited words in English =
364 edited words (fuzzy matches)
$140.78 $0.00 $100.20
The motors are reversible and come in 12V DC versions with a choice of speeds. The motors are reversible and come in 12V DC versions with a choice of speeds. The motors are reversible and are available as 12V DC and 24V DC versions with a choice of speeds.
They are robust but very lightweight and are easy to use. They are robust but very lightweight and are easy to use. They are robust but very lightweight and are easy-to-use.
The motor weighs 2.6 pounds with a maximum rotational speed of 50RPM The motor weighs 2.6 pounds with a maximum rotational speed of 50RPM The motor weighs 2.6 pounds with a maximum rotational speed of 50 RPM
Simple installation with simple instructions. Simple installation with simple instructions. Simple installation with simple instructions.

In this example, we have 46 English words that need to be translated into 13 languages. The first time we translate this content (column 1), it will cost $140. In a subsequent project (column 2), we have an opportunity to reuse the original content word-for-word, so there is no translation cost at all. However, if we had instead rewritten the original content with minor changes (column 3), rather than exact matches we would have 18 new words and 28 fuzzy matches. As a result, we would have to pay $100 to translate the changed content – effectively paying 70% of the cost again due to trivial differences that add no value to the new copy.

Consider your content landscape

From a mechanical perspective, using the DITA content authoring framework is an excellent way to simplify reuse. DITA encourages a modular approach to writing, where sections of content are designed to stand alone and can easily be pulled into many different documents. But this is only one piece of the puzzle. DITA is a great tool for content reuse, but it won’t work without the right mindset.

In our experience, authoring in a vacuum is the most common mistake among businesses creating global content, and it’s the biggest obstacle to effective translation reuse. Content doesn’t exist in isolation. It’s part of a wider landscape that spans different deliverables, products, and brands – and authors should always consider this landscape when working on new projects.

This comes back to the point we made earlier about consistency: if a customer starts by looking at a product brochure, and then decides to read the datasheet for that product, they should encounter the same terminology and messaging. This is a perfect opportunity for content reuse. A datasheet author that is aware of the wider content landscape will know that they can leverage a significant amount of text from the existing brochure. By reusing the content, they will improve their own productivity and cut hundreds of words from the translation workload.

To maximize consistency when it comes to product details, we recommend treating your product information management (PIM) system as the single source of truth. Whatever type of content you are creating, you should be able to pull the same data and copy from the PIM system every time. Errors in technical details are unacceptable, so having a master version to draw on is invaluable for both accuracy and localization efficiency. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog where we’ll dive deeper into the best ways to leverage PIM systems.


Send us your content!

If you’re curious about the potential improvements and savings you could make in your own localization process, why not send us some of your collateral? We’ll assess your content for repetitions, and we’ll get back to you with advice on how you can optimize your approach for ease-of-translation, reusability, and quality.

At Rubric, our specialists have almost 25 years of localization experience, and they are ready to provide their best practice expertise to help you transform your content strategy.

Ian Henderson
July 15, 2019

When it comes to managing your content, there’s more choice now than ever. Dedicated Content Management Systems (CMSs) have become exceptionally popular and diverse, giving organizations a wide range of both open source and proprietary options to choose from. What’s more, there’s a vast array of non-traditional solutions that can meet the needs of structuring content – especially from a localization perspective – for whom a full-blown CMS would be overkill.

Choosing the right content management approach for your organization can yield major efficiencies and cost savings; but at the same time, committing to a CMS that does not meet the needs of all your stakeholders can complicate your operations and lead to even greater expense. That’s why it’s crucial to evaluate your requirements as early as possible when designing or modernizing your content management processes.

In this article, we’ll highlight some of the key factors to consider for choosing a content management approach that supports both your localization strategy, and your business as a whole.


What is a CMS, and do you need one?

Content Management Systems are software platforms that aim to streamline the creation, editing, localization, and publication of content. CMSs have traditionally been associated with website content, but modern solutions are often designed to support multi and omnichannel content strategies. An enterprise CMS will enable users to manage and repurpose content across numerous outputs, such as press releases, brochures, and other marketing collateral.

This brings us to the first and most important consideration: do you need a CMS?

Using a CMS is increasingly becoming the status quo, even for small businesses – but you should think carefully about whether you would really benefit from the technology. If you aren’t pursuing a multichannel strategy or frequently updating a complex website, then a full CMS might well be unnecessary.

Instead, consider other options such as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, a Product Information Management (PIM) system, or even a social media platform. Each of these can provide a convenient environment for creating and managing content on a smaller scale, while also delivering a host of other benefits to your organization.

And when you factor in localization. If you are only managing content for a small-scale, static website, it is perfectly viable to just translate the HTML rather than processing the content through an enterprise CMS. HTML is a format that most translators are very comfortable working with, so skipping the CMS effectively cuts out the middleman. New technology can be appealing, but older, proven approaches are often simpler and cheaper.


What do you need from a CMS?

Once you’ve decided to use a CMS, the next step is establishing what capabilities you need. CMSs come in all shapes and sizes, and we recommend looking for one that satisfies all your requirements right out of the box. Some solutions will offer numerous plugins for additional functionality, but relying on these can lead to complications down the road – especially with community plugins that lack guaranteed, long-term support.

While our focus is on localization, we can’t stress enough how important it is to consider the needs of all stakeholders when choosing a CMS. This will likely be a mission-critical tool not only for your translators, but also for writers, engineers, and project managers. In our experience, selecting a system based on the requirements of only one group is the most common cause of CMS-related issues.

Typical capabilities that you might look for in a CMS include:

  • Content storage
  • Content authoring and editing
  • Translation management workflows
  • Templating and layout creation
  • Publishing tools
  • Content syndication

It is also worth considering a headless CMS, especially for multichannel content strategies. Headless CMSs are back-end only solutions that separate authoring from publication. Instead of publishing to a front-end view layer built into the application, a headless CMS serves as a central repository for content that can be published to numerous channels through a RESTful API.


Import & export – the most important CMS features for localization

You may have noticed that one feature is conspicuously absent from the list above: direct content translation. Many CMS platforms advertise support for translating content directly within the CMS itself. On paper this might sound like a good way to streamline localization – but in reality, it often has the opposite effect.

Translators work best when they are able to use their preferred applications. Working within a CMS typically requires training to get to grips with an unfamiliar environment, and can limit access to essential computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, such as translation memory. This issue is so severe that external translators sometimes charge a higher price-per-word if they are required to perform translations within a CMS.

So if direct content translation isn’t the answer, what should you look for?

We recommend choosing a CMS that enables you to easily export content in an editable format (such as XML or XLIFF) for translation, and seamlessly import the localized text back in. Although this approach requires extra steps, we find that it still delivers by far the most efficient and cost-effective results. Without import/export support, you might have to resort to manually copying and pasting content, which is both time-consuming and prone to error.

Last but not least, you should ensure that your CMS makes it easy to view and manage localized content without needing to understand the language it’s written in. For example, engineers should not need to know Greek to correctly publish Greek content.


Consult your Global Content Partner

Clearly, there’s a lot to think about when selecting a content management approach to support your business and localization goals. Your Global Content Partner will be able to help you assess your CMS needs and choose the ideal solution for your business. We’ve seen far too many organizations pick ill-fitting CMSs that have to be replaced after only a few projects – seek guidance early to avoid costly mistakes.

Rubric can help you choose your CMS and make localization easy and cost-effective from the get-go. Contact us today and work with our experts to build bespoke localization processes tailored to your business needs; or subscribe to our blog for upcoming articles that dive deeper into related topics such as headless CMSs and PIM systems.

Ian Henderson
July 1, 2019

This week we have a guest co-author, Michael Hall from Yaskawa. As Manager of Technical Communications, he’s responsible for all aspects of technical document production for the U.S. Market. Learn more below:


The destruction of the Mars Climate Orbiter is a notorious example of what can happen when numerical standards get confused. A programming error in one piece of software produced numeric results in United States Customary Units (USCS) instead of the intended Metric (SI). This error caused the $300 millon Orbiter to approach Mars at the wrong trajectory and be destroyed during orbital insertion. This was an error of software development rather than documentation, but the same principle applies – don’t let your technical writing lead to the next $300 million mistake!

Accuracy is the cornerstone of technical writing. Engineers and end-users depend on precise documentation to safely maintain and operate equipment. Mistakes in writing or localization can put lives in danger or lead to costly equipment damage. This is especially true of numeric content, particularly measurements, where even a single digit or symbol out of place can lead to wildly incorrect assumptions or calculations – with potentially catastrophic results.

With that in mind, ensuring the accuracy of numerals and measurements should be a top priority for every technical writer and translator, and for every organization where users depend on accurate technical documentation. In this article, we’ll take a look at some key considerations and best practices to guarantee numeric accuracy in documentation.


Know your standards

It almost goes without saying, but you should always be following the appropriate numerical standard – a system of measurement that clearly defines the name, symbol, and quantity of each unit.

The most common standard today is the International System of Units (SI), the modern form of the metric system. However, note that applicable standards do vary by industry and country. The most important example of this is the United States, where SI is used for science and medicine, but consumers and the manufacturing sector typically use the USCS instead.

The United Kingdom is another notably peculiar case. In the UK, SI is the official system, yet imperial units are still widely used in everyday life and in specific circumstances, such as road signage.

When creating technical documentation, ensure you are following the correct standard for your target audience and industry, and make it clear from the outset which system you are using. If multiple standards are included in a single document, consider which should appear first.


Keep it consistent

Accuracy and consistency go hand-in-hand, especially when translation and localization come into play. What this typically means is that it’s vital to handle all numerals and measurements in exactly the same way throughout each document.

Following a standard is a good first step, but manufacturers may have unique or specific requirements for numeric content in localized documents.

As best practice we strongly advise technical writers go a step further by creating a style guide that clearly lays out rules for dealing with numeric content. A good style guide is often the result of collaboration between the manufacturer and the language service provider.

For example, a style guide will help linguists with rules for rounding or unit conversion (the latter being particularly important when the audiences for localized documentation use different numerical standards).

You should work with marketing, legal teams and your translation provider to create style guides for each locale that you are targeting, taking into account all industry-specific standards and safety regulations. Building style guides can be a daunting prospect as they must contain more than simply rules for numeric content. Capitalization, word choice, punctuation usage are also key components of a good style guide. Writing source English content to a language standard such as Simplified Technical English (ASD STE100) can also dramatically simplify the process.


Check, re-check, and check again

Even the most careful writers following the most well-defined standards and style guides will occasionally make mistakes. That’s why it’s crucial to use a robust system of checks to flag any inconsistencies – both in the original and localized texts. Ask your language service provider about their quality control processes to ensure this crucial process is used to translate or localize your documents. This process can be largely automated, but it’s always worth including at least one human review.

When dealing with multiple languages, we suggest paying particular attention to the original version. Identifying issues in the original will help to anticipate and prevent issues in translation, while any mistakes or inconsistencies in the original will likely be carried over into localized versions.


Localize in bulk – but be careful!

Localizing your numeric content all at once can be an excellent way to ensure consistency and save time. That being said, be very careful about making global changes. For this reason, we recommend only making global changes to numerals, and not to measurements. Anyone who has ever used a “replace all” function knows how easy it is to inadvertently create gibberish words when making sweeping changes to text. It is similarly easy to accidentally break numbers and codes – and these mistakes can be much more difficult to spot. If global changes are made, we recommend a thorough comparison of the target to the source to expose unintended results if they exist. Then adjust the global replacement routine to eliminate these errors.

Also, remember that not all numeric content actually needs to be localized. Product and part numbers, for instance, will typically remain the same in all versions. Excluding this content from translation can significantly reduce the word count and, by extension, the cost. With the right tools and authoring architectures (such as Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) it’s easy to flag specific numeric content for exclusion.


Putting it into practice

At Rubric, we recently put these principles into practice while designing a localization process for our client, Yaskawa America, Inc. – the world’s largest manufacturer of AC Inverter Drives, Servo and Motion Control, and Robotics Automation Systems.

Yaskawa’s technical documentation includes a large amount of numeric content. They use leading-edge database publishing tools to enforce strict control and consistency of content for product instructions. Yaskawa requires the same level of quality when product instructions are sent for language translation. To maximize accuracy and consistency, we created a process that enables the translators to identify and work on all the appropriate numerals at once by extracting the data from DITA and scalable vector graphics (SVG) – numeric content that does not require input from translators is excluded. We also implemented automated checks to flag up any anomalies after translation and established a final human review process to ensure quality.

These steps have relieved Yaskawa from the time-consuming burden of checking numeric content post-translation. Yaskawa’s quality assurance process for language translation enables them to review and approve final publications much more quickly.

If you’re interested in achieving similar results, consider partnering with Rubric. We’ve spent almost 25 years localizing technical manuals, developing bespoke tools, and building trust – we’ll work with you to transform your localization approach with robust processes for each project. Subscribe to our blog below to get the latest updates on translation and localization, and how they affect your business.

Ian Henderson
June 19, 2019

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an interconnected universe of device, data, and software. Simply put, IoT connects physical devices — TVs, fridges, headphones, etc. — to the internet via sensors that send data to cloud networks for transformation into useful information. From experiential marketing technology that enhances event management, to an app that works with the thermostat in your office to provide comfort-ability, the sky’s the limit when it comes to what IoT can do.

Essentially, IoT expands the reach of the internet to improve our everyday lives with data. It’s showing no signs of slowing down, either: the market is on-target to deliver over $3 trillion annually by 2026. But how does IoT and its global, border-leaping connectivity affect localization and translation?

IoT’s evolution is affecting localization on a global scale

The Internet of Things is always evolving, making it tough to decide what needs to be translated and what is superfluous. Add a product’s ever-changing lifecycle into the mix, and localization for global markets can quickly become overwhelming.

One of the first questions to consider is what will your device interact with: do your headphones rely on Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa? Do those services support your markets — if not, do you localize your content in anticipation of those services catching up in that particular language? Make sure to consider the timeline for future updates of your product and resolution of any mismatch of language availability to ensure a positive user experience.

IoT requires fast, accurate translations

The need for speed in terms of device and UX interaction directly impacts translation, with a crucial need for consistency to ensure that the devices are compatible. For example, how can Alexa play a song through a smart headset if the voice prompts are incorrect? Cloud-based products like Alexa are developed at such a pace that manufacturers of 3rd-party devices have to scramble to keep up with language updates and additions.

IoT’s constant evolution is also changing the product development cycle. This quick delivery of digital information means that Global Content Partners are having to become more agile, and their tools more automated to keep up with the ecosystem’s time-critical translation workflows. Thanks to the collaboration of industry professionals, translation technology has developed apace with the world of AI and IoT. Expert knowledge of how to leverage TMS, CAT tools, and machine translation (MT) is essential for tackling the volume and speed of IoT development. In addition, localization technology like automated translation can save time and money throughout a product’s lifecycle by populating text with pre-existing translations. This targeted automation also gives your linguists the time they need to focus on the more demanding, high-level localization tasks.

Strategic planning

A further solution to meeting quick turnaround times is to integrate your localization process into the development cycle from the beginning. By doing so, translators, engineers, and other stakeholders can analyze the product’s requirements, advise on the way forward, and align with your Translation Management System (TMS).

Businesses would do well to bring their Global Content Partners into the fold early-on for advice and guidance. Early collaboration opens the channels of communication necessary for iterative localization throughout the product’s lifecycle.

Localization is more than just translation. It’s a strategic foundation from which to deploy critical, targeted translations to your global markets. And just as localization is more than translation, a trusted Global Content Partner is more than an LSP. An experienced Global Content Partner like Rubric will analyze your organization’s global markets and content, and then advise on a localization strategy to achieve your global goals.


Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog below to get the latest updates on translation, localization and how things like IoT can affect your business’ strategy.

Ian Henderson
June 3, 2019

As beneficial as an acquisition, consolidation, or merger (M&A) can be for an organization, they can cause a great deal of instability and stress. This is particularly true for managers and others who are trying to oversee the process.

Even under the best of circumstances, you’ll need a plan to help navigate the merger. And even then you are still likely to come across challenges. Considering the M&A process can have an impact across an entire company, in what way is this likely to affect the processes, scope, technology, and staff involved in localization projects? We unpack this further with a brief look at one of our clients who underwent multiple mergers.

How multiple mergers impacted a client

Our team was brought in to assist a multinational software corporation that had undergone several mergers. With each merger, new products with new languages were added to their portfolio. What had started out as a single-language human resources management product, ended up requiring translation into 43 languages. As each merger added a new layer of complexity, our client ultimately decided that it was more cost effective to create a new product from scratch — one that was designed with localization and multiple languages in mind. A new strategy was also required to deal with the growing complications, the most notable being the inconsistent use of terminology.

Even changes that may seem insignificant, such as referring to employees as staff, colleagues or teammates, can have a huge impact on a company, or in this scenario, the relevance of their multilingual HR product.

Understanding M&As and localization teams

During M&As, affected teams may ask a number of questions, including:

  • Which markets shall be prioritized moving forward?
  • Which brands and products will be marketed where?
  • How much are we going to translate for each market?
  • Which languages will the newly formed company focus on for localization?

These M&A questions are affected by the degree to which the prospective companies are merging, which is in turn determined by whether an acquisition, consolidation, or merger is taking place.

Tips for localizing after an acquisition, merger, or consolidation

Once you have established the extent of the M&A, you’ll need to implement these four steps:

  1. Any knowledge about the brand should be documented and stored in one place for reference. Information about a product can often be fragmented and scattered, even within an organization. This is equally applicable to the language and terminology used for a product. When a merger takes place, this information must be centralized to avoid problems further down the line.
  2. Once information is stored in one place, a review will be required to compile a comprehensive cross-company brand glossary and style guide. Both organizations will bring their own preferences and style, so the review will ensure there is no misalignment between the two. Make sure to involve product owners, writers, legal, marketing, and translation team managers to achieve a consensus.
  3. Translation memories will also be impacted, and the newly merged company will need to assess if legacy translation memories should be penalized moving forward. In our blog, From a Million Words to Fifty Thousand, you can learn more about the purpose and benefits a translation memory offers your organization. In this context, penalized refers to the match rate a term or phrase may have with another term or phrase in the translation memories’ systems. In translation memories, if a term or phrase has a 100% match, it can be pulled through automatically to replace the term or phrase. However, if the company has decided post-merger that the term or phrase is potentially no longer relevant, it can be penalized within the system so it no longer reflects as a 100% match, allowing a translator to step in and assess the situation.
  4. The newly merged company will need to assess which tools and suppliers are kept on board for the new translation process. You can learn more about adding new systems to your company here. Companies often rely on different tools to get work done. To ensure that no problems arise during the translation process (for example, incompatibility between tools), companies need to identify which tools and suppliers will be used, and then standardize their systems. Clients should seek the assistance of a trusted global partner to help them with this process.

Implementing these steps will help ensure that a merger or acquisition doesn’t dramatically impact the performance of your localization teams.

A localization and translation partner to help you through the M&A process

While these steps will help your localization and translation teams transition through this period, it’s always better to avoid or minimize these problems beforehand. The right content partner with experience in the global arena can help you achieve this. Rubric is a customer-centric Global Content Partner with years of experience developing and managing localization and translation strategies for multinational companies.

To find out more on how we can ensure your content localization and translation proceeds smoothly, no matter the circumstances, contact us today. If you need to keep up to date with the latest on localization systems that can help your business navigate mergers, be sure to subscribe to our blog.

Ian Henderson
May 27, 2019

We’re swimming in more ‘Big Data’ than we know what to do with. Here’s the good news: the sheer amount of information on-hand can give you an accurate idea of who your customer is, and what should drive your globalization strategy. Both now and in the future.

Define your data goals from the outset

A good question to ask is: what content are people using, and where? With so much content being consumed digitally, businesses now have a number of data-rich channels to analyze. These include eLearning resources, eCommerce platforms, and website content. Usage data can be a treasure trove of information, but if you don’t know what to look for it can be overwhelming. To use Big Data effectively, define the questions you want the data to answer from the outset, then set a baseline from which you can measure the impact or change. From then on it’s an iterative process, whereby the success of your content is reviewed and localization strategy adjusted with each new metric gathered.

Get to know your user profiles

What content are your users consuming? Where are they based?

A user profile is a set of data that gives you an overview of browsing habits, as well as personal specifics such as gender, age, and location. This information provides an accurate idea of who is consuming different pieces of content. Additionally, by monitoring the success of existing translations and how they affect product sales, a business can ascertain which localization strategies work in a specific region, and which do not.

For example, a business may launch a campaign with the express purpose of gathering data about the user base in a specific market. This rich data could then be used for further expansion, as you would have a good idea of what content is received well and what doesn’t resonate with the audience. You can then localize accordingly, selecting which content requires translation into which languages.

Ensure your global strategy doesn’t overreach your budget

When it comes to budgeting for localization, you need to consider the value of your content.

For example: if a company finds that users only look at 20% of their product content, it would not make budgetary sense to translate the remaining 80%. So while high-value content demands high quality translation, it may be sufficient in terms of user experience and expectations for the remaining 80% low-value content to be machine translated using a service such as Google’s machine translation.

Gauging opinion with social media

The internet revolutionized the consumer–brand relationship. So much so, that entire careers are now built on managing, analyzing, and reacting to social media metrics. Where in the past a business would have to send out a survey for feedback, opinion is now easily gleaned, tracked, and measured from consumers’ comments and shares.

This insight is invaluable for brand expansion, gauging an audience’s opinion of competitors, and identifying ownable, niche areas. For brands that are already entrenched in a market, audience opinion and sentiment is crucial for growth. For example, should your organization offer a full multilingual customer service, or would simply localizing online product reviews be of greater benefit?

Back up your data-driven decisions with a trusted Global Content Partner

When it comes to localization strategy, a good rule of thumb is to have a baseline in place, with a target in mind, and to adjust as you go. Collecting usage data can help to determine which content (web pages, user manuals, and product information) should be localized, and into which languages. Tracking data also helps to identify which content is delivering results. It’s an iterative process that can be improved with the help of the localization expertise of a Global Content Partner, like Rubric. Check out more in our blog that mentions Facebook data.

Ian Henderson
May 14, 2019

Technical writing invariably involves a great deal of content reuse. If you’ve ever authored technical documents across multiple products and projects for the same organization, you’ve undoubtedly found yourself repeating elements of text and style many times over.

Streamlining this content reuse can be one of the best ways to improve the efficiency of your authoring and localization processes. And, with the right tools and strategy, it’s easier than you might think.

The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) is an open standard, XML-based architecture for writing and publishing technical documents, and it was built from the ground up to support content reuse. DITA encourages a modular approach to technical writing where topics – the basic units of information within DITA – are capable of standing alone and being reused in many different documents. The focus is on content rather than layout, with the goal of maximizing reuse to save time and resources.

DITA was originally developed by IBM almost 20 years ago. It has received numerous updates since then, and it is experiencing a renaissance with the release of new tools and Lightweight DITA – a simplified version for those that do not require the full feature set, or prefer to work in HTML5 or Markdown.

Switching from traditional word editors to DITA can seem like a daunting prospect, but if used correctly, DITA is an invaluable tool that drives effective writing and localization. That’s why we’ve put together this article to give you some tips on how to get started.


The right tools

The first stage in any DITA implementation is choosing your tooling. If you’re new to the architecture and looking to explore its potential, the DITA Open Toolkit is an excellent starting point for experimentation. It’s a free, open-source publishing engine, and it actually serves as the foundation for much of the DITA software ecosystem – including many of the most popular, proprietary authoring and content management applications.

Oxygen XML Editor 21.0 interface
Oxygen XML Editor 21.0 interface













When you’re ready to implement DITA in earnest, tools such as Oxygen XML Editor are the natural next step. This kind of software provides an easy-to-use visual interface for creating and editing technical documentation, much like a typical word processor. But unlike a word processor, these tools come with built-in DITA support, enabling writers to manage their modular content units and effortlessly reuse them via content references.

Content References can be used to pull a huge variety of previously-created content into a new project. This can range from a single phrase, to a topic, to an entire collection of connected content.


Don’t let localization be an afterthought

The benefits of DITA aren’t limited to the initial authoring process – it can also significantly streamline localization. The key here is to make sure that you factor in localization right from the outset.

Content created in DITA can be easily converted to XLIFF for translation. But before you get to that point, there are a number of things you can do to make your content more localization-friendly:

  • Write in International English rather than American or British English. Avoid colloquial expressions, idioms, and overly complex sentences.
  • Determine whether there is anything that should not be translated, such as lists of parameters and part numbers. Most DITA tools will give you the option to flag this content for exclusion, which can make a huge difference to localization costs by reducing the scope of work.
  • In cases where you need to customize your content for different products within a range – or for different outputs for the same product (e.g. PDF manual vs online help manual) – use DITA’s conditional text feature to clearly indicate which content should vary, and in what way.
  • Develop a glossary to precisely define terms, especially acronyms and abbreviations.
  • Consider using a controlled language (for instance, Simplified Technical English) with a limited vocabulary and fixed style guidelines. This will improve the consistency of your content and minimize the risk of ambiguity for localization service providers.
  • Use the SVG format for images that include annotations or callout text. SVG graphics are the easiest to edit with computer-assisted translation tools.

Following these suggestions from the start of a project will enable you to move seamlessly from the initial content creation to localization. And once the localization is complete, you will be able to use a DITA publishing engine to generate deliverables for each of your target languages with just a few simple commands. Authors simply have to create and follow well-defined layout rules, and DITA takes care of the rest.

An additional advantage to using DITA for localization is that after a topic has been translated once, it does not have to be translated again – reducing both cost and turnaround times in localization when content is reused.


Leverage the experts

Working with experienced specialists is the best way to guarantee a smooth DITA adoption and avoid localization complications. At Rubric, our experts know DITA inside and out, and they are ready to provide their best practice expertise to help you plan your DITA implementation strategy.

Send us some of your own collateral and we can advise on DITA best practices! After clicking, attach some of your source documents to your email and Ian Henderson, our CTO, will reach out with some tips and guidance to help you embed structured authoring and simplify your content management.

Stay tuned for the next couple of weeks as we cover Content Authoring, Product Information Management (PIM) systems and other topics that can help drive your localization strategy.


Rubric is pleased to announce that we’ll be attending The Society of Technical Communication’s (STC) 2019 Summit! Now in its 66th year, the STC Summit is the premier conference for the technical communication world.

STC is the largest and oldest professional association dedicated to the advancement of technical communication. The expo brings together our peers for in-depth discussions and presentations on key trends, issues, and cutting-edge solutions.

What is technical communication?

Technical communication simplifies technical or specialized subject matter, such as medical procedures or computer algorithms. STC defines the benefits:

“The value that technical communicators deliver is twofold: They make information more useable and accessible to those who need that information, and in doing so, they advance the goals of the companies or organizations that employ them.”

Who is Rubric?

Founded in 1994, Rubric is a trusted Global Content Partner with a track record of helping multinational companies achieve their global strategy goals via targeted translation for multilingual markets. Some of our clients include Amway, AccuWeather, and Toshiba.

Last year, and with the help of CSA Research, Rubric underwent a re-brand that saw the company pivot to a consumer-centric strategy centered around Global Content. Our new descriptor — your ‘trusted Global Content Partner’ — was born from this shift in focus. As a trusted Global Content Partner, we thrive on collaboration with our clients to solve the challenges and complexities of Global Content. Rubric offers a wide spectrum of localization solutions for organizations that want to market their services globally. This includes translating product and training manuals, ensuring digital content is aligned to a region’s language, as well as market research and guidance from asset ideation through to delivery.

Why did Rubric opt for this model? While traditional translation services may save a company costs, the strategies employed do not deliver the long-term transformational ROI that a trusted Global Content Partner can offer. In fact, by shepherding content from creation to translation to market release, we have proven that a company will save on costly reworks down the line.

What kind of clients do we partner with?

From localizing Amway’s multimedia training collateral to delivering a new level of global weather hyper-localization for AccuWeather, Rubric has delivered translation solutions to some of the world’s largest organizations. We offer solutions in the technology, manufacturing, and software spheres for companies that want their products and services translated for multilingual markets.

Who you’ll meet at the STC Summit

Our management team will be manning the booth — make sure to say hi, they’re looking forward to meeting you!

  • Ian Henderson, Chairman and Chief Technology Officer: Ian is the co-founder of Rubric and has devoted more than 20 years to Rubric’s growth. His foresight and communication prowess has been instrumental in helping clients reap the rewards of globalization and benefit from agile workflows, while still guaranteeing the integrity of their content.
  • Françoise Henderson, Chief Executive Officer: Françoise is the co-founder of Rubric. With over 20 years of experience in corporate management and translation, her leadership of Rubric’s worldwide operations and strategy has proven invaluable. Under her guidance, we’ve generated agile KPI-driven globalization workflows for clients and reduced time-to-market across multiple groups.
Where you’ll find Rubric at the STC Summit

Come meet us at Booth #304 and see some examples of our Global Content Partner strategy in action!

In the meantime, connect with us on social media:




Here’s to a memorable STC Summit 2019!


Whether you’re dealing with an aircraft, an industrial robot, or a pump, when it comes to configuring and maintaining machinery there is no room for error. Mistakes during installation or servicing can lead to equipment failure, accidents, and even fatalities. That’s why it’s so important for technical documentation to be clear and concise, with no room for misunderstanding.

But achieving this level of clarity can be a major challenge, especially when you factor in language barriers: even though English is the prevailing language for technical documentation, engineers and end-users are not always native speakers.

Standardize and simplify

The proven solution to this problem is Simplified Technical English (STE). Originally developed for the aerospace industry, STE is a controlled language that utilizes a limited vocabulary where each word has a single, clearly defined meaning. By keeping word usage and linguistic construction simple and consistent, STE minimizes the potential for misunderstandings.

Today, STE is seeing growing popularity outside of aviation. In the manufacturing sector in particular, businesses and technical communicators are increasingly seeing the advantages of employing a preexisting, standardized framework for their technical writing. Internal style guides and glossaries are not new concepts, but developing them from scratch and keeping them up-to-date can be immensely time-consuming. In contrast, STE is a premade and proven system, and organizations can easily adopt it with just minor customizations to suit their industry.

But how can you tell if STE is right for your business? Well, consider this question: Is proper understanding of your installation and maintenance documentation critical to safety? If your answer is “yes”, then STE is almost certainly a good fit.

From simplified English to simplified translation

STE is an excellent way to make your technical documentation more consistent and easier to understand for non-native English speakers, but it isn’t always enough on its own. Sometimes you will need to go one step further and translate your content.

Target audience is the biggest factor here. If your end user doesn’t speak English at a high enough level, or at all, then translation is obviously the best option. This situation is especially common in B2C scenarios where the customer base is wider and potentially more varied.

When localizing technical documentation, STE still offers the ideal starting point, since the benefits of STE (reduced ambiguity, improved clarity and consistency) are passed on to the localized content.

By localizing your existing STE style guide and glossary for each of your target languages, you can maintain the same degree of clarity in your translations as you have in your source content. This approach reduces ambiguity from the localization process, minimizing the risk of misunderstanding or error and resulting in a higher quality, easy-to-use end product.

Additionally, authoring source content in a concise and standardized way will enable you to make the best use of translation memory (TM) technology. TM systems automatically provide suggestions to translators by remembering past translations. And when sentence construction, word usage and grammar are kept consistent in the source language, the potential for TM leveraging – and the resulting time and cost savings – goes up significantly.

Benefits for writers, readers, and businesses

Improved end-user safety is the main reason for adopting STE and standardized translations, but it is far from the only benefit. The approach we have described in this blog can make life easier for technical writers, translators, and customers, while also delivering considerable savings to your business., using the same controlled language across all projects makes content creation much more straightforward. With this methodology, technical communicators typically make fewer errors, spend less time worrying about word choice, and gain more benefit from TM systems – all of which help them to work more effectively and productively.

  • For writers, using the same controlled language across all projects makes content creation much more straightforward. With this methodology, technical communicators typically make fewer errors, spend less time worrying about word choice, and gain more benefit from TM systems – all of which help them to work more effectively and productively.
  • From the business perspective, STE keeps content concise and wordcount low. This leads to lower translation volumes and lower costs, especially when combined with improved TM system utilization.
  • Last but not least, implementing these standards will greatly enhance the consistency of technical documentation across your company as a whole. When instructions are always written in the same way, repeat customers will have a far easier time safely getting to grips with new products.
Partnering for success

Adopting STE principles in other languages can seem daunting, but that’s where Rubric comes in. Our expert team will work with you to develop bespoke localization style guides and advise on how to embed best practice terminology processes into your business.

Our experts can also help inform your decisions on the tooling and architecture used in your localization process. These choices will have a major, multiplicative effect on the quality of your content and the efficiency of your processes – so the earlier you involve us, the better!

If you’d like to learn more about STE or our localization services, we’ll be at the STC 2019 Technical Communication Summit & Expo in Denver, CO next week. Come visit us at Booth #304 from May 5th-8th – we’d love to meet you! If you aren’t in the Denver area, be sure to follow us on social media for the latest updates.

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