How to prepare a document for translation

document translationAll translations start with a document written in a “source” language. The text is then translated into a “target” language. But what happens when an error in the source text confuses the translator and as a result makes the target language less than accurate?

If text is ambiguous, translators must guess what it’s trying to say; there is a big difference between “lose” and “loose” and “principle” and “principal”. When writing, we assume everyone knows what we mean, but mistakes happen.

While translators are able to keep the context consistent from one language to another, one of the best things a content author can do is to edit his or her text before the translation process.

Here are ways to prepare your document for translation (this does not apply to birth certificates/court documents/etc):

1. Change difficult-to-translate expressions. Some idioms and sayings may be tricky to translate from the original language. If you’re not sure, play it safe and adjust the expressions in your document before sending it out for translation.

2. Make document easy to understand. If the translator can’t figure out what you are trying to say, they will have a hard time translating your project.

3. Specify need for consistent wording. If you include technical terms in your document, give a list of them to your project manager so the translator can build a glossary for your documents. This will ensure that these words are always translated in the same way.

4. Check spelling and grammar. All caps with an exclamation points means that this step is extremely important. Misspellings and grammar issues may be a detrimental to the final translated product. They will also make the translator’s job twice as hard, because they need to figure out the meaning behind your document.