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4 steps to perfect document translation

Published on January 24th, 2019

Translating one document can be a challenge but handling an entire project of hundreds or thousands of documents is a big ask, even for professional translators. Luckily, agencies like ourselves have refined our workflows to a point where we can handle projects of any size – from single documents to weekly or even daily releases.

With this kind of process in place, it does not matter how demanding your translation needs are, but it takes the right mix of language skills, technical expertise and technology to make things happen. Here are the four steps you need to follow for perfect document translation in every project.

#1: Determine your target languages

The first thing you need to do is determine which target languages you want to translate your document into. Depending on your language choices, the complexity of your translation project is going to vary greatly. For example, if you are targeting readers in China, Arab nations or other parts of the world where different writing systems are used, you will need language experts with enough knowledge to choose eligible fonts for these systems, as well as proofread and edit written text.

#2: Choose your translation methods

Once you know your target languages, you can start thinking about translation, but there are other language services you may need to consider. For example, you might also need localisation to format key information like the dates and addresses in your documents or adjust charts and other data visualisation to make them more recognisable to certain audiences.

If your documents use fairly plain, literal language (such as research papers and user guides), then translation and a little localisation may be all you need. However, if you have got any creative language (metaphors, similes, rhymes, etc.), these will probably be lost in the translation process and you will want to come up with alternatives that make sense for each audience.

This is where adaptation comes in, a more creative kind of translation that helps you make the same impact on every audience.

#3: Hire the right translators

With everything in place, it is time to hire your language experts and, aside from getting professional translators, you also want a team with the right subject knowledge. If you are translating medical journals or manufacturing processes for a car company, you want translators with working knowledge in these fields – as well as the obvious language skills to translate your content.

You also want professionals with extensive experience in document translation and some subject knowledge, too – especially, if you are in a highly niche or technical field.

#4: Use translation memory to speed up future translations

Few translation projects only involve one document and chances are you are likely to have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of individual documents that need translating over the course of a single project. This means you need a process in place to make translating all that content and managing the entire product as time and cost-effective as possible.

Translation memory (TM) is a vital tool for this, storing all of your translations in a database, which can be automatically inserted into future documents where any repetition occurs. This not only saves your language experts from translating the same words, phrases and sentences repeatedly, but also creates a stronger consistency throughout your entire project.

This article is an oversimplification of the document translation process, but it gives you an idea of the work that should go into a project before and after the translation itself. As always, the correct planning before you get started is always going to save you from making expensive mistakes and using the right tools will make sure you get things done in the most efficient way possible.

So do not hesitate to contact out team of dedicated professionals, who can advise you on the best solution for your specific document translation needs.

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Posted on: January 24th, 2019