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I have to translate a document? Now what?

tips to facilitate translation projects

Last updated on May 19th, 2023 at 05:27 pm

guidance for translation services projects and their solutions

How Do I Start a Translation Project?

So, you’re done with the user manual for the new equipment your employees will be using. Now you will need this in Spanish, Chinese, and Hindi. What do you do now? JR Language often assists business owners who are having their materials translated for the first time, and sometimes they’re not sure what to do beforehand. Whether you’re beginning your first translation project or the latest out of many, you’re not alone in being unsure of how to prepare. We’d like to share some tips on how to prepare your material for translation, how to help your language services team during the process, and how to keep getting the best out of language services.

What Should I Have Translated?

Professional language services are in greater demand than ever with our globalizing society, the prevalence of the Internet, and now with social distancing. Remote interaction makes us more available than ever to connections around the world, adding an extra incentive to making your business multilingual.

To get you started, here are a few things a business should have translated for multilingual clients, partners, and government entities:

  • Translation of Websites. Think about product descriptions, international SEO, and the amount of e-commerce a professional website translation exposes your business to. You want your website as accessible as possible which will make it more attractive to your target audience.
  • Marketing materials. These could be part of a website, printed items, logos, branding copy, or the translation of a document. JR Language offers not only translation but localization, meaning we will make your marketing materials fit your target market as if it was made for them originally.
  • Legal documents. Anyone you do business with should have documents like contracts and receipts made up in their language of choice. If any party in the contract cannot understand it, the contract is void, and acting on it without mutual understanding can lead to legal issues.
  • Doing business internationally may require you to have documents like patents and licenses translated.
  • Financial documents. These can include prospectives, ledgers, tax reports, and more. Again, if there is not mutual understanding with these documents, legal issues may occur.

There are some things you can do as a business to help the translation process along, and we want to give you some practical tips from a translation agency’s perspective.

Prepare Your Project for Translation

Before contacting a translation company, you will need to have certain parameters in place.

  • Have the nature of the project clearly defined and budgeted? We need any pertinent links, screenshots, and specific requests like reading level, approved glossaries, or specific limits in size or special formatting.
  • Identify your target audience by language and region. Do you need Spanish Translation to be used in the United States, Costa Rica, or Spain? Translation of English for Canada or the United States?
  • Have a firm deadline and contact the translation company with as much notice as possible. A good metric to use is that a good translator can do between 2000-2500 words per day. This also includes any research the translator might have to do. Translation is an art, and quality takes time.

JR Language uses only professional translators fluent in both the source and target language. We source them not only by language pairing but by industry so that you always know that your translator is versed in the industry and desired market.

Prepare Your Content for Translation

Now that you have your project defined, you can prepare your content.

  • One of the worst things in the source document are typos or sentences that are not clear. Your project manager will give your source document a review but is not looking for typos, misspellings, grammatical errors. The translator will recognize the error and will translate correctly. Sometimes though, the syntax is not clear, and we have to go back to the client for clarification. This can take extra time.
  • That unique expression used in English might not work in Chinese. Our translators are skilled at finding something similar in the target language so that you can keep your unique voice and message and be understood by the target audience. The best approach is to avoid colloquialisms or expressions that are difficult to translate. Use examples that are generic and simple.
  • We try to match the formatting for the translated document to the source as much as possible. However, some languages expand, and some contract. A five-page document in English will be 8 pages in German, 4 pages in Chinese, and Arabic is read right to left so it will be quite different.

An advantage of using a professional translation agency is the support you get with advanced localization techniques. Our translators are cultural experts who can tell you whether or not the color of a logo is a bad idea, or if a jingle translates to something offensive or silly, or if there is no linguistic equivalent for a word.

Prepare Your Source Files for Translation

  • Have your source files ready and make sure there are not different versions that could get mixed up.
  • Please have the source files in an editable format, Word, Excel InDesign are some of the most popular. Pdfs need to be converted and sometimes formatting or text is lost in the conversion. Giving us the files in the format in which they were created is always best.
  • If you have a style guide for your industry, please provide it. This can include instructions on how to format numbers, or whether to translate a company name or avoid using a competitor’s term.
  • If you have had content translated before and have a glossary, provide that. Industry-specific language benefits greatly from an approved glossary provided by the client.
  • Provide any references or documents that can be helpful for the translation team.

Planning and preparation can help make the translation of documents and files go smoothly, take less time to prepare the files for translation, and facilitate reformatting, reducing cost and execution time.

During the Translation Process

JR Language will assign you a project manager to keep you updated throughout the translation process. Be open to communication with your translation agency, as answering questions will help produce the best translation possible. These could be questions about formatting, glossaries, or queries from the translator on the source content. Our goal is to provide you with precisely translated and formatted documents ready to use.

Every day, we handle documents that allow no margin for error, like medical, legal, and insurance documents. Keeping your translation project actively managed by a professional saves time, money, effort, and makes sure that your documents will hold up under scrutiny by groups or individuals fluent in the target language.

There could be several solutions and different workflows for your translation project, work with an experienced company that offers alternatives in the translation services offered to your multilingual challenges.

After Your Translation Project is Complete

Our work is not complete until you are satisfied. If you have an in-house reviewer, we will work with them to make any changes needed. If there is a change to the document in content or in formatting and/or text, we will work with you to do it as quickly as possible working within your budget.

Quality is our first priority. Our mission is to break language barriers to encourage the flow of conversation, ideas, commerce, and social evolution. Following these guidelines will empower you to help your translation agency help you.

Sergio Ruffolo
Sergio Ruffolo
Sergio has more than 25 years of multinational experience providing consulting services and leading IT organizations in Africa, Asia and America, which has given him plenty interesting and insightful lessons to teach about global business. He is fluent in Spanish and English, in addition to conversational Portuguese. He has lived in more than 12 cities around the world, moving around and working in different cultures has left him with a real global perspective. Sergio is a real citizen of the world.