Any business that expands to new markets faces the need of having its documentation translated into a foreign language. This could be employee training, a service agreement, an instruction manual, or any other piece of technical documentation.
In order to keep the high standards of your brand, you need accurate, consistent translations of these documents. Therefore, you need to find a reliable Language Service Provider (LSP). In addition, there are some tips that can help you prepare your documents for translation and give you guidelines on how to recognize a good document translation.
How to write a document meant for translation
Every company prepares and writes a variety of documents: some for internal use, others for partners or customers. When it comes to writing documents that will need to be translated, it is good to keep in mind some simple tips that will make the translation process quicker, easier, and more cost-effective.
- Write in clear and concise sentences.
- Never use slang.
- Link to your graphs rather than embedding them.
- Choose a neutral font that will be supported by the different languages.
- Plan your document design in such a way that it will allow text expansion. Translation into German or Spanish, for example, occupies about 20-25% more space than the original English.
- Create a glossary with company-specific terms, acronyms, and abbreviations that you can provide to your LSP. If you have experience with translations and have adopted specific terms to be used in a given language, your translators will be very grateful to receive those files.
All of these points are valid and a good term of reference for composing any document regardless of whether it will be translated or not.
It is also a must to send the latest version of the document for translation. So, make sure that you have made all the necessary changes and have final approval for the text before submitting it for translation. This will save time and money and is especially crucial when it comes to translating a single text into multiple languages.
What to look for in a good language service provider
Since you are looking for a business translation, you need reliable and expedient services that will guarantee the high quality of the final translated text. When it comes to document translation you need to make sure that the LSP you have chosen will be able to meet your requirements. There are many factors that differentiate good translation services but three are particularly important:
- Native Speaking, Professional Translators
It is not only necessary to employ native speakers for translation, it is a must to hire certified professionals trained in the field who know how to deal with both terminology and deadlines. It is also a plus if your translators are specialized in a specific field and industry since it means they will be able to do a faster and more accurate translation. It is not rare for the translators working in a reliable translation agency to have another college or university degree, which makes them subject matter experts.
- Translation Project Management
Managing the entire translation process from start to finish is an important requirement when it comes to document translation. Having a single representative as your contact person makes the entire process go smooth and without complications. The job of the translation project manager is to constantly communicate with the client and the translator, ensuring all issues and questions are taken care of in a timely manner. This person also monitors that the high standards and quality assurance procedures are adhered to for each individual document that passes through them.
- Cutting Edge Technology
Using modern technology is an advantage in favor of any translation agency. Utilizing a cloud-based translation management system helps in the delivery of efficient and accurate translations. The bonus is that the client can keep track of the progress in real-time.
An important note to both the customer and the translation provider is that all communication channels should be kept open and each party should try and respond to any questions as soon as possible. Being flexible is also a plus. This means that you should be open to suggestions coming from the translator in one case and in the other to be able to adjust to customers’ requirements even if they need to change on the go.
Localization considerations for document translation
High-quality document translation doesn’t include only proper rendering of the words and concepts included in the document into the target language. It needs to take into account some specific details of the local audience, such as cultural differences, perceptions, manner of work, etc. In other words, the text should not merely be translated but also localized to respond to the new customer needs and expectations. Here are a few things that need to be localized in order to achieve the desired results:
- Date format – having the correct date on your documentation is quite an important requirement since it may affect guarantees, warranty terms, and many other date-related specifications. Keep in mind that even if you are not translating into another language you might have a different audience. English for the United States versus English for a British audience will still have to be localized. The date formats, for example, are significantly different — 5/3/2017 means the third of May for the US and the fifth of March in Europe.
- Images – if you have used images of people in your document files make sure to have them changed with images of local people in the translated version. The same is valid for typical food, houses, or jobs.
- Colors – the colors chosen play an important role in marketing, so make sure to either use neutral colors or change them for the translated versions in order to avoid offending the locals.
- References – for technical documentation it is a good idea to choose references to local regulations or give local companies as an example. This will make the document closer to the target audience.
At the end of the day, every company wants to get the best document translation possible to present their brand and image properly to their target market. Following the tips above will ensure you will end up with the best service on the market. And remember to keep it “short and simple” for a better understanding of an important document, regardless of the language it is written in.