Q&A: What's Included in a Glossary?

We’ve already written about the importance of a glossary and why it’s important to create one before copyright symbolstarting any major translation effort — whether it be for technical documentation, marketing communications, web, software, eLearning, or multimedia projects. Now, let’s look at what should be included in a glossary.

What goes into a glossary?

  • Corporate/product nomenclature
  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Metaphors or compound noun phrases.
  • Terms that remain in English (i.e. perhaps anything with a copyright, or a product name, etc.)
  • Generally accepted “lingo”

What should a glossary look like?

A glossary can be a complex database or a simple spreadsheet. It depends on your global reach and the size of your overall globalization efforts. If you are just starting out, you may just want to use an Excel spreadsheet. Then you can work your way up to a more complex database.

Below is an example of a simple glossary spreadsheet:

glossary example

The Source Term is the item in the source language, in this case, English

The Source Origin is where the terms was originally used within the project.

Source Context is exactly that — it tells the translator the context surrounding the terms. “Breakout” can mean escape, outbreak, itemization, or unexpected success. The translator will only know the intended meaning if they have the context. In this case, it’s a “breakout session.”

The Target Term gives the term in the target language.

The Validator is the usually the translator and/or editor. This person makes sure that the target term is correct in the context provided.

Review Comment is usually provided by the in-country reviewer, who more than likely works for the business that is having the translation done by a localization agency. He/she will make sure the translator got it right; sometimes there is already an accepted term that the in-country team uses, so you need to make sure to have your in-country experts review all glossary terms. If you don’t have an in-country team, there are localization staffing services that can find the right people for you.

Yes, a glossary is a lot of up-front work. But it will make your translation project run much smoother in the long run. Remember, you need a glossary for the following reasons:

  • As a guide for the translation team
  • To receive buy-in from in-country reviewers
  • To ensure consistency of terms
  • To reduce errors
  • As a knowledge asset (use it again and again!)

The end result will be more than likely be a quicker launch, less errors (meaning less last-minute changes and less unexpected costs), happy in-country teams and excellent translation quality.

Image attribution: caitlinburke

Subscribe to this blog

RSS feed

About this blog

Smart, fun and useful. Acclaro shares news and tips on translation, localization, language, global business and culture.


software cost tips technology & localization industry language entertainment southeast asia arabic website marketing mobile acclaro languages of the world acclaro localization and translation services acclaro world language map world language map arts sports & culture europe eastern europe africa french international business north america latin america middle east swedish asia german chinese documents case study localization retail quality transcreation spanish south america italian english ecard networking portuguese romance languages japanese staffing technology machine translation cost savings acclaro games language apps elearning localization multimedia translation multimedia localization elearning translation training translation ecommerce localization bitcoin cryptocurrency global ecommerce bitcoin regulation bitcoin exchanges china chinese translation chinese localization beijing localization cantonese and mandarin translations translation for business in china business translation in chinese top retail markets in the world new retail openings retail markets acclaro black friday cyber monday cyber week cyber monday woche single’s day bachelor’s day holiday shopping online borderfree doorbuster sales global holiday ecommerce healthcare initiative spanish healthcare cuidadodesalud.gov mt case study mobile apps mobile app translation app store optimization aso mobile app thai translation ecommerce in asia valentine’s day valentines in japan valentines in south korea chinese valentine’s day singles day translation project fitbit visualiq gibson mardi gras food localization globalization consulting localization staffing localization recruiting startups global scalability international ecommerce international payment international order fulfillment global online shopping acclaro april fool’s stories usaapril fool’s stories germany april fool’s stories ecommerce ecommerce design wine translation marketing translation english remains the dominant language in the united states but almost one in five americans speaks a language other than english at home. are you missing out on customers who are more comfortable doing business in languages other than english? read on to learn how your company can profit from translation within the united states. translation myths translation mistakes international translation misconceptions translation errors translation process translating startups marketing translations translation marketing international social media qa quality assurance quality translations global apps app localization app translation app store translation global startups international app launch press release translation international press release global pr global press release press release localization kontax translate news international marketing video localization video translation video translation agency brazil brazilian portuguese english-to-portuguese translation boston translation services boston web translation boston translation agency global branding international branding global brand evaluation lithuanian translation lithuanian language translation adapt to lithuanian translators translation ecommerce in india business travel business travel apps international banking financial services translation marketing transcreation international copywriting website translation website localization japanese translation english-to-japanese translation japanese translation services translation solutions web localization mobile app localization iphone 6 glocal global brands translation services translation agency translation partner global content marketing localization world business case for translation