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5 best practices for flawless technical translation

Published on February 19th, 2019

Behind all the glitzy marketing messages, when a consumer buys one of your products, it is the technical documentation that helps them get the best experience from their latest purchase and stay safe while using it.

From user manuals to safety advice and warnings, technical translation ensures your customers around the world stay happy with your products long after the purchase – and they are equally as important from a legal standpoint. The challenge is managing multilingual documentation, which can be particularly tricky if you are producing a lot of different products.

Here are five best practices that will help you achieve flawless technical translation every time and manage long-term projects without the headaches.

5 things you need to do for every technical translation project

Your biggest advantage with technical translation is that the language in your documents is going to be relatively simple compared to your marketing campaigns, for example. Your aim is to relay instructions concisely and clearly but you still need to take certain steps to simplify the translation process and minimise the chance of errors.

  • Simplify your source material: Generally speaking, simple language is easier to translate and understand for the end reader – so make sure your original document uses clear, simple language for the benefit of every language speaker.
  • Use translators with technical knowledge: Your translators need to be knowledgeable about your topics, products and the technical intricacies of your documents.
  • Localise your docs for layout: Translating your content is going to change the length of headings, sentences and paragraphs, which impacts the layout and length of your entire document – from the front cover to the back page – so localise your docs to make sure everything is where it should be.
  • Make your diagrams and visuals editable: If your document includes graphs, diagrams or other visuals including text, make sure these are editable so they can be translated, too.
  • Make the most of translation technology: Translation technology can make a huge impact on technical translation projects, helping you complete projects more quickly while improving quality and consistency – so use it to your full advantage.

As mentioned above, the more simplistic nature of the language used in technical documentation is a big advantage. The downside is that technical translation often involves quite high volumes of content and it is vital you get the right accuracy and consistency – especially when it comes to safety instructions and warnings.

Using translation technology to minimise errors

The great thing about translation technology is it does not care how much documentation you need to translate and it never forgets the work it has already done for you. This helps human translators overcome a number of potential errors and inconsistencies that can naturally occur over the course of long-term translation projects.

With translation technology, all of your translations are stored in a database and automatically inserted into future documents where any repetition occurs – a common thing with product user manuals.

Then you have terminology management, which stores accurate translations for all of the important vocabulary in your documentation – from product features (if they are translated to terms that could have different meanings in another context).

Machine Translation (MT) can also lighten the workload on your translators by handling the first draft of translations, which they can then check, edit and refine to achieve the right level of accuracy and quality.

All of these tools combined add up to a significantly faster and more accurate translation process that helps you produce documentation of any volume with confidence. The only thing you need now is a Translation Management System (TMS) that helps you manage entire projects and individual tasks, each step of the way.

With the right language pros and the latest translation technology on your side, you can achieve consistently flawless technical translation, no matter how much documentation you need to handle. More to the point, the technology we have available now means we can achieve these results more quickly than ever before, which passes on time and financial savings to your business.

If technical translation is something you and your team can benefit from, our team of dedicated professionals can point you in the right direction. Get in touch with them today to learn more.

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Posted on: February 19th, 2019