Three Strategies for Proper Localization

A common localization question we hear from clients is “How do you handle information that varies from country to country, specific units of measure, currency, emergency phone numbers, etc.”? These concerns are widespread across industries from medical device firms to financial services companies, pharmaceutical firms, and beyond. A sound content strategy that takes into account industry standards and regionality is absolutely essential.

To that end, here are a few tools to help you create the best possible localization strategy for your business.


1. Follow style guides and best practices

Best addresses the following: Currency, units of measure, address/phone formats, emergency service numbers (911)

This type of content is easily addressed in a style guide. It’s best to create strict guidelines with examples for the translation team along these lines:

Currency – use Google conversion for today’s value, round to whole dollars if the US measure is in whole dollars. If the US measure is out to two decimals, follow suit.

Address/Phone Format – use the current practice in the target country, if working in a multi-country target language like Spanish, please use the norm in your biggest relevant market. You can learn more about international phone number formats here.

Emergency Services – use the most common emergency service number in the target country. If working in a multi-country target like Spanish, please use the norm in your biggest relevant market. You can learn more about the specific emergency phone numbers by country here.

Units of Measure – use Google conversion, round to whole units if US measure is in whole units. If the US measure is out to two decimals, follow suit. If measurements are for precision measurements, additional decimal places might be required.


2. Create a glossary

Best addresses the following: Key terms, preferred terminology

This type of content is normally addressed via a glossary. A glossary can be formed using the most common terms in a given document or set of documents. As feedback comes in from the field, the glossary can be updated. This glossary should be set up as a termbase so that the terminology is used consistently throughout all projects.

Building a glossary is a worthwhile exercise for any company that handles multiple translation projects with repetitive terminology. Learn more about creating a glossary in our comprehensive ebook which you can download here.


3. Use snippets/conditional text

Best addresses the following: country-specific information that cannot be captured in a glossary or style guide – legal issues, regulations, local ordinances

You can handle snippets in a few different ways in MadCap Flare (or other tools). The most significant consideration is how much work it will take to generate the source files and the subsequent target files. So the amount of this country-specific type of content in a given document is the primary factor in deciding how to approach this challenge.

If you have minimal amounts of this information, try listing the various countries inline. Here is an example:

A left turn against a red light can only be made from a one-way street onto a one-way street. Signal and stop for a red traffic light at the marked limit line. If there is no limit line, stop before entering the crosswalk. If there is no crosswalk, stop before entering the intersection. This law is not applicable in China, Italy, France, and Belgium.

This method handles the issue directly in context.

If there were multiple variations of this rule, you could create a series of snippets for each country and include the appropriate snippets in country-specific targets. You could take a similar approach using conditional text.

Provided it isn’t a ton of content, to make processing of the projects for the translation more manageable, translating all of the snippets and conditional text is a good option even if some of the content only applies to individual countries. Translation memory will only allow for translation of the content once, so subsequent instances should have no negative impact on cost and time.

If you chose to not use this approach, you would have to generate country-specific source targets for translation which could be a significant amount of work and extra overhead on your projects. However, if there are substantial volumes of this type of information, creating country-specific targets might be the best approach.

By using these three strategies, you and your translation team can adequately adjust your documents to match the norms and requirements in all of the countries where you do business.


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