You operate on a global scale. That means that there is a good chance that, at some point, you will need some of your documents translated into another language. From your website to your product packaging, localizing your content is crucial.
Here are five tips for writing your documents for translation that will make your project a bigger success.
1. Make your source file easy to read, format, and manipulate
Your translator uses a computer to review, research, read, and translate your document. When writing your document for translation, keep your translator’s process in mind.
Send your document in an editable Word document, not a non-editable PDF. This enables your translator to edit freely within the document. Sending your source document in a file that is easy to work with saves you and your translation team quite a few headaches down the line.
2. Provide extra instruction for website translations
To enable your translator to know which areas need translation and which areas of the source document are code, use the highlighter feature in Word. Highlight the text that you need your translator to localize. This will make your entire project more efficient. Your translator will have a clear idea of what part of the text needs translation. Then, when it is your turn to review the text, you will not have to sort through and verify code to know what was translated.
3. Take formatting into consideration
One big hurdle many translation projects encounter is formatting. Some languages, such as German and Spanish, take up more space on the page than others. This is an especially important consideration for product packaging where space is at a premium.
Another common formatting concern is language direction. Languages, such as Arabic and Hebrew, are not written from left to right as English is.
When writing your document, take space and direction into consideration. To help your translator have a better idea of where the text will appear, send a copy of the anticipated layout as a PDF, scanned image, or hard copy.
4. Keep the content simple.
Conveying the same message across multiple languages is a challenge for even the most experienced translators. Whenever possible, shorten and tighten up your sentences. The shorter the sentence, the easier it will be for your translator to work with.
Translation-friendly documents eliminate the use of slang and idioms. These often get lost in translation. Keeping them out of the translation altogether will give you a stronger, more natural sounding text, and make it easier for your translator to convert the copy to another language.
5. Talk to your project manager before writing the documents
Before sending your source documents, talk to your translation project manager. In your meeting you will discuss aspects of writing the document that you might not have considered. For example, you will discuss the language’s idiosyncrasies, how much you can expect the text to expand, and more. This is also a good opportunity to address any of your major concerns about your specific project.
Preparing a well-written document for translation is a core part of your project’s success. By clarifying as much as possible on the front end of your project, you will save time and money by not having to reformat and rework each language on the back end.