Developing a Term List for Translation Projects

It’s been shown time and again that brands that localize global content are more likely to succeed in targeted global markets. In 2016, an Aberdeen Group report found that companies that consistently localize on-brand content see stronger marketing ROI than companies that create local content without brand consistency (53% vs. 21%). Furthermore, studies have also shown that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy the same brand again if the sales follow-up efforts are in their native language1.

As more and more companies focus on localizing global content to be internationally relevant and competitive, let’s talk about one of the most essential tools for translators during the localization process – the translation glossary or term base. Today’s article will deep dive into translation glossaries, what they are, how they help translators with consistency and efficiency, and how to create one.

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What Is a Translation Glossary?

Translation glossaries are essential for more efficient and better quality translations because they give translators all of the approved translated terms and materials for your business, including proper terminology, lingo, references, and punctuation commonly used by a brand in marketing and other communications. So what does a glossary do? Think of it like an index of a company’s preferred terminology with approved corresponding translations in a specified target language that ensures your company’s messaging is always consistent, no matter the language.

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Benefits Of Using a Translation Glossary?

If you ask a translation team which two elements are important for an ideal translation, they will likely say accuracy and readability. That’s where a translation style guide can help – tremendously. However, along with supporting the accuracy and readability of your content, a translation glossary has other significant benefits, including brand preservation across languages, cost efficiency, and time savings.

Preserving Brand Identity

Using a translation glossary ensures that your messaging is appropriately translated into target languages, which is crucial for building and maintaining your brand’s reputation, establishing trust, and improving engagement. Consistent translation of your product names and key terms means your customers can always identify your messaging. Whereas referring to your products inconsistently in your marketing and communication can create confusion among your audience.

Cost Efficiency

Creating a translation glossary or language style guide can also save money on translations in the short and long term. Translators can standardize portions of your projects by using approved translated content from the glossary, which saves time – and time is money in the language services industry. Also, the use of a glossary in tandem with translation memory, cuts down on rework during the project and increases translation memory reuse in the future. Overall, a translation glossary can make the translation and localization process much more efficient.

Time Efficiency

Again, a translation style guide or glossary helps eliminate time-consuming rework because translators and linguists have a reference for how specific terms should be translated for the project. This clear communication can significantly speed up the translation process by avoiding confusion throughout the process.

How Often Should Your Glossary Be Updated?

Translation glossaries should be updated periodically based on new content, industry language updates or changes, and reviewer recommendations from your team. If you have a single app or website, then check in with the translation glossary a couple of times a year to ensure it’s up-to-date.

However, if your content is more robust, then plan to check your language style guide about once a month to ensure everything is correct and updated as needed.

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What To Include in Your Translation Glossary?

This key glossary helps eliminate uncertainty during translation, ensures consistency, shortens the time it takes to translate a document, and reduces the overall cost of translation over time, so the ideal time to create it is before localization and translation of your content. If you are not sure how to create a glossary for your brand, then keep reading. We’ll begin with a general outline of what to include in your translation style guide or glossary.

Company-specific terms

These are names or terms associated with your business, product, or service. This list of terms should include any copyrighted or trademarked terms that should not be translated and that need to appear consistently in any language.

Industry-specific terms

Many words have multiple meanings and can create problems for translators. For example, the word “monitor” in English has a few meanings, i.e., a computer monitor (noun) or to watch/oversee (verb). If you are a wireless security device company, you will want to use the translated version of the verb form, not the noun. So, your list should include industry-specific terms and their meanings to avoid confusion during your translation and with the intended audience.

Audience-specific terms

Including and defining audience-specific terms in your language glossary can help with the content’s relevancy to the intended target market. For example, if you are in the gaming world and localizing products for foreign markets, make the translators know and understand any relevant “gaming slang” used in the content so they know how to appropriately translate it into the target language.


Many businesses overlook keywords when planning their translation glossary. However, keywords are critical for SEO no matter where you are in the world. A comprehensive translation glossary should include a category of keywords and their translations, so they can be incorporated into digital content and help SEO efforts in foreign markets.

Other data

This is an umbrella for everything else relevant to your translated content that does not fit into any of the above categories, such as any terms you wish to keep in the source language or special terms used in your user interface or technical documentation. Again, the main goal of a language style guide is to avoid confusion during translation by supplying a blueprint for how your company consistently speaks and sounds.

How To Create a Translation Glossary?

Creating a translation glossary may seem like a monumental task, but once it’s complete, it’s invaluable to your brand’s translation and localization efforts. So, in this next section, we will outline how to make a glossary in broad terms to help simplify the process, which will involve you and a language service provider (LSP).

The first step is to select the content to include in the translation glossary. This includes any core terminology related to your product, processes, and company, focusing on the most common, important, and potentially complex terms only (as outlined in the previous section above).

Next, supply information for each term on the list, including the definition (of the source term), context, part of speech (i.e.,  noun, verb, adjective, etc.), and any other relevant information such as specifying variations, such as preferred synonyms, and antonyms for each term.

Once the list is complete, it’s time to send it over to your LSP for translation. It’s best to choose a highly qualified translation partner with experience in your industry to ensure the content is translated in a manner that your target audience understands. At this point, the translation team can ask questions and make any clarifications necessary around your list.

When all of the terms on your list are translated, the LSP will send it back to you for review. This is a good time for any native linguists within your organization to review the list of terms and translations, which is always helpful.

Once the list is translated and reviewed, it’s time to compile it in a spreadsheet in alphabetical order. This will make the glossary easily searchable and efficient. Also, a spreadsheet can easily organize your company’s terms, definitions/context, and each target language translation in neat, easy-to-organize columns. As you add more target languages, the translators can add more columns.

A translation glossary can be a large undertaking to create. However, as you can see, the results are worth the time and effort. Once established, a language style guide will help your company and language service providers accurately translate content assets for global consumption.

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At Dynamic Language, we are advocates of global communication. We help customers worldwide overcome language barriers and confidently communicate in today’s fast-paced global economy. As a leading language services provider, we specialize in applying the right technologies and language talent to address our customer’s foreign communication needs with scalable and cost-effective processes bound by industry-leading customer service.

Contact us today to discuss your next translation or localization project!