Is Your Content Ready for Localization?

Content Localization StrategyAre you planning a localization project in the near future? Whether you’re a project manager, a technical writer, a graphic designer or an editor, adjustments can be made to prepare your content for localization. Investing in a localization strategy which includes optimizing your content prior to translation will result in cost savings when working with your vendors and contractors.

Technical writer Mary Dulin has compiled a list of these content optimization tips entitled, “Is your content ready for Localization?” Ranging from writing and designing content to working with language service providers and translators, her list covers a wide variety of issues that come into play during localization projects. Here are some highlights:



Use short, simple sentences. Longer sentences are more likely to be misunderstood and possibly translated incorrectly.

Choose words that are precise, with one or few meanings. Words that have multiple meanings or that can be either a verb or a noun are easily understood.

Do no use slang or jargon. Americans may understand “keep a fire extinguisher handy,” but such an expression may not translate easily or clearly.


Numbers and Symbols:

Provide metric equivalents for all weights and measures.

Write dates in a format that is universally recognized. Specifying dates in a month-day-year format is common in the U.S., but many countries commonly use day-month-year format. Determine a format that will be understood by all of your users – you may want to spell out the month, use month and year only, or follow some other convention that is common for your industry.

Choose colors carefully, as colors may have religious or cultural significance.



Adhere to a template. Localized content can be easily formatted when template styles are used consistently.

Avoid manual formatting such as tabs or extra line breaks. Define template styles that provide the necessary indentations and spacing.

Avoid style overrides. Overrides may go undetected by the translation vendor


Vendor Instructions:

Fonts. Be sure to specify (and provide, if necessary) all the fonts that are needed. If a font is not available in certain alphabets, work with your vendor to determine an appropriate substitution.

Software strings. If your content includes software strings that are translated on a device, be sure to provide the string translations to your vendor so the translations in the text match the actual translations on the device.

Glossary. Provide a glossary of key terms to help the translators understand your product.


Mary’s list is a great start to getting your localization project off on the right track and under budget. Please click on the link below to a full version of her whitepaper which includes 24 other tips that anyone undertaking a localization project should know before handing their content off to a vendor or contractor.

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