Tag Archives: source text

Technical writing: Your source content does have an impact on the quality of translation!

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by Nicola Kotoulia, Project Coordinator at Commit

When companies seeking to expand to foreign markets decide to use translation as an enabler of greater brand awareness and more sales, there is one thing that they should not overlook: What is their source content’s quality? And is it global-ready?

“Translation errors” are often a result of poorly written or unclear source text. How often don’t translators puzzle over the intended meaning of a sentence, on how to deal with inconsistent use of terminology, incorrect grammar structures, ambiguities, non-uniform style and other source related issues?

Often there is not the opportunity to obtain clarifications, and translators have to make an educated guess about the intended meaning or the desired approach relying on their research skills, professional experience and best judgment. And this could sometimes mean an incorrect translation or a target text that does not measure up.

When localization planning and timeframes allow for it, there can be multiple waves of questions and answers, with query resolution not always guaranteed. Especially for large scale projects, this can have a significant impact on cost, workflow, deadlines and product release.

Quality technical writing is a key factor in avoiding such situations. When creating your global market targeted material to be translated into several languages, there are some things you need to consider in order to ensure high translation quality, lower cost and faster speed.

After identifying your audience, defining your purpose, obtaining an in-depth knowledge of the material and organizing your thoughts, planning must focus on setting and using naming conventions for a consistent output. You can document these conventions, along with processes and terminology in the form of style guides and glossaries.

When it comes to the writing task itself, here is what you should keep in mind:

  • Time should be allowed for drafting, reviewing and editing.
  • The content should be translation friendly, meaning that the translator can get it right to the point. Clarity, brevity, simplicity and correct word choice for example, contribute to this point.
  • Prefer active voice for straight forward communication.
  • Define what may not be familiar (such as abbreviations, acronyms).
  • Avoid the use of jargon and idioms.
  • Make efficient use of words (eliminate redundancy, remove needless words).
  • Use consistent phrasing to say the same thing multiple times.

All these tips will make your content easier to translate, will speed-up the translation process and reduce editing rounds. Moreover, your original document will be accurate, precise and tightly-written, optimized for the domestic audience.

Moving on to the actual localization process and selecting the right partner is the next challenge. Choose wisely and trust your content to an experienced language services provider. They will use native, certified translators whose expertise matches your type of content, experienced project managers and industry-leading localization tools ensuring consistency, confidentiality and a high-quality output.