While it is up to your translation vendor to provide a high quality translation, poorly written and poorly formatted technical documents slow down this process and could lead to increased costs due to rework and delays in delivering the product to your international customers.  There are some really easy ways to prevent these things from happening.  It takes a bit of planning, but these tips will help ensure your translation vendor can work quickly and effectively to provide you with the best translation possible.

Here are 4 important tips that are easy to incorporate into your international technical publication plan that will reap many benefits to both you and your international customers.

Use a simple, consistent and clear writing style

  • Technical writing is not creative writing.  It is meant to instruct someone on how to do something or how to use a product.  Clarity is paramount.  Using shorter, less complex sentences is a great place to start, as is using active voice over passive voice.  Active voice is generally clearer and gets straight to the point.
  • Avoid jargon and frequent use of acronyms also provides clarity and eliminates US-centric references that are less meaningful in the target market.
  • Achieving clarity can also be accomplished through consistent use of terminology.  While it may be viewed as uncreative and even boring, “mixing it up” can make things less clear and potentially cause confusion.

BENEFIT TO YOU: Fewer questions from the translators and/or the vendor to field, faster delivery and no cost overruns due to rewrites and revision.

Use a straightforward document structure

  • Plan for text expansion – in most European languages it takes more words than it does in English to express a concept (up to 25% more words), resulting in what is known as text expansion.  Leave plenty of white space in the document itself to allow for this, as well as call-outs and other stylistic elements that tend to restrict space.
  • Develop style sheets that are easy to follow and flow well. Don’t make the vendor guess your preferences. This will save a lot of time and produce a much cleaner result.
  • Omit carriage returns so the vendor doesn’t have to do it for you. Due to text expansion and sometimes longer words, formatting elements, such as carriage returns, will appear in strange places and make the document look unprofessional. Having your vendor do this slows down the translation process and may cause unnecessary formatting errors in the translated versions.
  • Link graphics

BENEFIT TO YOU: Enables translators to focus on their core competency and work faster. This also saves time in formatting and quality control and enables the translation company to deliver the documents back to you more quickly.

Organize  your document and graphics in a good file structure

  • Organization makes it easy for the vendor to scope and assign the work quickly.  Delivering extraneous, unused files slows everything down, forcing your vendor to double check every file or ask you which ones are relevant.
  • Only provide editable files and graphics. Recreating them is time consuming and expensive, especially across multiple languages. A little bit of time checking and organizing things on your end is well worth the investment.

BENEFIT TO YOU: You’ll have far fewer queries from your vendor about the files themselves and fewer scope and changes in the quote for files and graphics need to be recreated. Definitely saves time in the long run.

Plan for updates

  • This can have huge benefits to you, because it will enable your vendor to optimize workloads, make effective use of technology that will reuse as much previously translated text as possible.
  • This only happens if you keep consistent in your document creation and stick to style guides and glossaries.

BENEFIT TO YOU: Cost savings can really kick in here.  The more consistent your updates are with previous text, the greater the cost benefit.  You’ll also save time by enabling your vendor to make best use of translation technology.

Gateway Globalization can help you create the most translation-ready technical documentation and extend the benefits right back to you by delivering faster and more cost-effectively.

 

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