Bookmark and Share
Email This Link

5 Tips for Stellar Translations

by Ben Howdeshell

June 12, 2013

stellar translations

Stellar translation is the result, in large part, of preparation. You prepare for your English-language launch. You prepare for a meeting with your boss. You prepare for a European vacation. And you prepare for a translation project, both to save time, money and strife, and to achieve a higher-quality product.

But how can you prep for something you’ve never done before? No matter if you’re in software, advertising or alternative energy, the following five pointers will give you the know-how to set up a stellar translation project.

1/ Create a translation glossary and style guide. 

A glossary includes the following conventions that are used in your company: corporate and product nomenclature, abbreviations and acronyms, terms that remain in English (i.e., product names, copyright items, etc.), and "lingo" that should stay consistent across all of your company's material. In general, glossaries address the translation of core terminology and vocabulary.

A style guide explains the “voice” and tone that your brand should adopt in each language. Both the glossary and style guide ensure consistency and quality across languages. They should be reviewed and approved by project stakeholders, and regularly updated with new terms and revisions.

One example of a light style guide is available online for translators voluntarily working on TED Talks. In addition to conforming to the AP Style Guide, the online resource provides specific case-by-case guidance and the essence of the TED style:

Style guides can also be used to cover technical usage, such as keyboard shortcut conventions, menu and command abbreviations, and conventions of help file documentation.

TED style guide

2. Educate your translation partner about your subject.

The more detail and context you can provide with regards to your source content, the better. This will help your translation agency choose qualified translators who have an advanced degree and/or extensive experience in the subject matter area.

This is especially important for highly technical subjects, including industrial and medical translation projects. Depending on the law in your target countries, misinformation or a misunderstanding of your content in a mission-critical application could inadvertently expose your company to liability claims.

On a less dire note, even if you’re not trading in heavy-duty services or equipment, educating translators on your company, brand position and products can inform and improve translations. When Acclaro worked with Opus One to bring its fine wines to France, Germany, Japan, and China, we created and translated creative briefs so that translators could faithfully recreate the Opus One experience in their language. 

opus one

3. Ask for the latest translation memory tools.

To save time and money across current and future translation projects, choose a translation agency that takes advantage of the latest translation memory software. This software captures your source language phrases and pairs them with their approved translations.

When you update your content or translate new content, translation memory finds the approved translation and recycles it — ensuring consistency across all versions. Plus, translation memory helps reduce costs by avoiding translation of the same phrases over and over again. The time- and cost-savings are considerable, especially in lengthy documentation projects where translators would face tedious copy and paste work.

translation memory

4. Insist on quality assurance (QA).

You have editors and proofreaders review your original, source text. Your translations should get the same treatment. Before you hire a translation agency, make sure they have native, target language editors to review translations and ensure a high level of QA. If this step is bypassed, your translations won’t have the polish they deserve. This holds true especially for consumer-facing content.

Often that polish will give flow to the music of a translation. It can mean the difference between your brand sounding slightly foreign and unmistakably local. In other cases, it may prevent your brand from an embarrassing gaffe, created through the use of idiomatic language or double meanings.

5. Determine up front who will do the in-country review.

In-country review is the last step in the translation process. More than likely, the review can be done by someone from your local operations team who is a native speaker and who knows your products and brand in depth.

Reviewers should be involved before translation begins, however, so they can help contribute to the initial glossary and style guide, learn about the background and goals of the translation, and lastly, so that they can set aside time in their schedules for the actual review. Getting them on board at the beginning will help smooth this final step in the process and guarantee an on-time launch. Don’t miss our companion article, “Top Five Tips for Managing In-Country Linguistic Review.”

Successfully preparing for your translation projects can save you time and money, and make your translated content speak more effectively to a global audience.

Learn about our translation services today and how we can help your brand succeed across cultures.


Request a Call Back

First Name:
Last Name:
Job Title:
Valid business email required