When you send your documents off for translation, you’d prefer to get them back quickly and without breaking your budget. To that end, some time back we published a post with our top 5 tips for document translation. Here are six more document translation tips to simplify the process. While our team can handle even complex projects with tight deadlines, the following tips will make the document translation process easier for all concerned.
Use a design that’s easy to adapt.
No matter how the original document is designed or what language pair you’ve requested, our design team can make the translated version look as good as the original. However, if you know the original document is going to be converted into other languages, you can save time and money if you think ahead and design thoughtfully.
When documents are translated into other languages, the text often expands or contracts (depending on the language pair). For example, when translating from English to Spanish, it’s not unusual for the text to grow by 15% to 30%. Meanwhile, translations from English into Japanese and Korean often take up less horizontal space than the original. However, Japanese and Korean have more complex characters. As such, they sometimes require more vertical space to keep everything on the page clear, uncrowded and easy for the end user to read.
Then, of course, there are languages like Arabic and Hebrew. They read right to left, instead of left to right.
So, how can you minimise the amount of re-designing that your document translation project will require? Keep it simple. An uncomplicated, clean layout with enough white space to allow for the text to expand will require fewer adjustments.
If you know that you’ll need to flip the layout to translate into a language like Arabic or Hebrew, consider keeping all the text in the original document aligned to the left. That way, it will be easy to reverse.
Build a style guide.
Creating a style guide for your documents takes work. But all of that work will pay off, in the end, with a seamless and efficient document translation process.
A style guide keeps your translated documents consistent and reduces the amount of time-consuming guesswork required of your translators. With a style guide, the translation team has the resources they need to get the translation right the first time. That means less time and money spent on rework, and faster translation times at a lower cost for you.
Despite all of the hype around machine translation, the best, most accurate still come from human translators. That said, there’s no need to translate the same phrases from scratch over and over again, every time you translate a new document. Translation memory tools (we use MemoQ) can help you avoid paying full price for translating the same material repeatedly.
To make the most of this technology, be consistent in your terminology wherever possible when you write the original document. The more you can use the same words and phrases for the same concepts each time, the less “new” content there will be to translate. This maximises the benefits of using translation memories and increases efficiency and speed.
Keep language simple (when possible).
If you’re working on a document that you know is going to be translated, it helps to keep the language as simple as possible. If you can, avoid overly complicated sentences, jargon, regionalisms and even humour. (Jokes are notoriously hard to translate.)
Obviously, this particular tip won’t work for every document. Sometimes, as with legal documents, complexity and industry-specific jargon come with the territory. And marketing documents may depend on wordplay and humour. No worries- experienced, specialist translators can ensure your translated documents leave readers smiling for the right reasons.
Don’t rely on Google Translate for essential documents.
Speed and price are important, sure, but they aren’t everything. When it comes to translation, remember: price is what you pay, and value is what you get. If you’re using free tools like Google Translate to translate your documents, chances are you’re not getting much in the way of value. And you’re risking reader confusion, damage to your brand, and possibly legal consequences as well.
For more, see Can’t I just use Google Translate?
Choose the right translation partner.
A final tip: Choose the right translation partner. The ideal translation company for your documents will have both the wisdom that comes from experience and a reputation for quality and customer service. They will employ specialist translators when necessary and have in-house design services to ensure your documents look as good in the target language as they do in English.
For more tips on choosing an LSP, see How to Choose a Translation Company.
Want more document translation tips?
Looking for more tips on how to make translation work for your business? Stop picking through Google results looking for nuggets of wisdom and read our corporate translation guide instead!