Tips for Translating User Interface

A customer new to translation projects recently asked if there are any considerations they should keep in mind when it comes to translating their products’ user interface (UI). Of course! We were happy to provide some tips in this area.

UI Considerations

  • Remember that the translated text will more than likely expand (anywhere from 10% to 50% depending on the language).
  • Allow for time and cost to shorten any translated strings that expand past the software’s character limits.
  • Avoid using abbreviations in the source language. If there isn’t enough space in the source language, the target language will be that much more difficult to fit.
  • We can provide “greeked in” or test translation of .net resources with an expansion factor and extended characters from a given language to help you test for potential overwrites.
  • Consider that different target audiences may require the use of different currencies and time formats.
  • Ensure that your software can accommodate diacritical marks (accents, tildes, umlauts, etc.) as well as non-Latin alphabet sets such as Arabic and Chinese.
  • If the software uses variables, be prepared to provide the linguists with an explanation of the content and/or how the variables are used.

General translation considerations

  • Write in the active voice.
  • Use common, everyday language and avoid using too much jargon.
  • Limit the use of humor or slang (it typically doesn’t translate well).
  • Try not to use acronyms that double as a word.
    For example, “The G.O.A.L. program is instrumental for safety.”
    The play on words with GOAL would be lost in translation.


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