How to Prepare Your Content for Translation
4 Minute Read
You understand the impact of multilingual communication, you’ve chosen the right target languages for your business, and you’ve selected a professional translation company. Congratulations, you are on the path to translation success.
However, there is one step that is often overlooked and can save you considerable time and money—preparing your content for translation.
Knowing your foreign audience and establishing writing style, terminology, and format will structure your current and future translation projects for success and guarantee fewer obstacles, and better results.
Below are the best practices for preparing your content for translation and how you can use them to jumpstart your translation project and ensure faster turnaround times and a higher ROI.
Writing for Translation
Style, terminology, sentence structure, and target audience. Why are they essential to translation?
Because knowing who you are writing for and how to write for them establishes a streamlined and repeatable translation strategy.
You will be better organized and prepared for future projects, and your translation partner will have a clearer understanding of your content objectives.
Let’s look at them in detail.
Know Your Audience
You must know which languages to focus on and why. But to get the best ROI, you should have the specific locale you are targeting in mind.
For example, you know you want to translate into Spanish but does your audience speak Spanish from Spain, South America, or North America?
Also, think about what type of readers you are targeting and how they interact with your product or material.
Are they professionals that are knowledgeable in your industry? Or are you targeting an audience that might be unfamiliar with your product or service?
A style guide establishes a set of rules regarding style, tone, and voice and is instrumental in establishing brand consistency.
It guides translators to convey your writing style and brand voice to foreign readers accurately.
Some words have multiple meanings that differ according to the context and industry or product.
For example, the word “screen” for a technology company could mean the front of a smartphone or television. However, for a life science company, a screen is a medical examination.
The purpose of a translation glossary is to reduce any ambiguities by providing company-specific meanings to commonly misinterpreted words.
Layout and Format
You can significantly streamline a translation project by providing your translation partner with files that are easy to translate and localize.
Global-ready files account for text expansion, international writing systems, source file formats, and the cultural meaning of images, colors, and symbols.
Editable Source Files
If available, provide your translation partner with the source version of your files and check that they are the correct draft versions.
Examples of source files included MS Office or Google Docs, Indesign or Illustrator files, or web files such as XML or HTML.
Today’s translators use software to extract text and reformatting files in other languages. This technology cannot be leveraged easily with scanned files or outlined PDFs.
Also, providing images without hardcoded text will reduce turnaround time since they will not need recreation.
Leave Room for Text Expansion
A translation will often take up 20% or more page space than its English counterpart.
Layouts that haven’t accounted for text expansion will often look cramped and need to be reformatted after translation—raising costs and slowing deadlines.
A global-ready document will have enough white space to allow for text expansion and will maintain a visually appealing layout and better reader experience.
Use Unicode Fonts
Some fonts will only work in English or a single writing system.
When attempting to use Latin-only fonts with foreign scripts such as Cyrillic, Asian, or Brahmic, the reader will instead see question marks or boxes.
Using Unicode fonts from the start will reduce the extra cost for multilingual desktop publishing.
Images and Symbols
Some images, colors, and symbols are irrelevant or inappropriate for foreign target markets.
For example, using an image of a yellow school bus for an educational product wouldn’t be appropriate outside of North America since they are only used in the USA and Canada.
It’s best to remove any images or symbols that are unique to the source country.
An LSP that offers cultural assessment can assist in providing feedback on images and symbols before translation kickoff.
Better Translation Preparation Means Efficient Collaboration and Project Success
You can see how preparing your content for translation sets you up for fewer bottlenecks and smoother process.
Once you have established these processes, they can be repeated across languages and projects—a definitive sign of being global-ready.
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