Translators are trained to work with the text and formatting they receive from clients. However, if that content is not optimized for the most efficient translation workflow, it can wind up costing the client time and money. That’s why it’s important for businesses to engage technical writers who understand as much as possible about the technical translation and localization process. A savvy technical writer can design content to be easily translatable, which will improve efficiency and cut costs during future translation projects. Here are five ways to make your technical documentation more effective:
1. Reuse content wherever possible
Most businesses have content that is used repeatedly, such as warnings or disclaimers. Identifying the content that appears in multiple places and standardizing it is an extremely beneficial exercise. Doing so will decrease the amount of time that it takes translators to work because they use specialized translation tools that can offer suggestions for previously translated content. If translators do not have to translate from scratch, the job will not only be completed faster — it will also contain content that is consistent across all different types of outputs (e.g. website copy, manuals and marketing literature). A Content Management System (CMS) is ideal for managing these reusable chunks of content.
2. Create a predefined glossary
Consistent terminology should be added to a glossary of terms, which can be used by translators in conjunction with their specialized translation tools. A glossary of terms is a living tool and it should be updated when you have new terms to add. Doing so will result in documentation that is not only more consistent (which provides a better customer experience), but also more accurate (because if different terms are used for the same thing, it can be very confusing in the translations).
3. Separate text from graphics
If text is embedded in graphics, the localization process can end up taking longer (and costing more) because the graphics will need to be recreated with localized text. If the translated text fills a different amount of physical page space, the whole graphic may need to be redesigned to account for that. That’s why, whenever it’s possible, it’s in your best interest to separate text from graphics. Doing so will mean that your project can be translated more quickly, saving time and lowering costs.
4. Avoid cultural references
It’s important when writing technical content in English to remember that not all end-users are native English speakers. Cultural references and idiomatic phrases are difficult and sometimes impossible to translate. They can cause misunderstandings and potentially even damage your brand. By avoiding these types of phrases in the first place, your end-users will have a better understanding of the content, and the translation process will be easier to accurately complete.
5. Make smart revisions
If you need to update previously translated content, you should do everything possible to minimize unnecessary changes to the text. It can be very tempting to want to change or tweak text here and there, but the more content you change, the more expensive and time consuming it will be to translate and localize the updates for all of your different audiences.
Seek an expert partner
At Morningside, we take pride in offering highly professional technical translation services to customers around the globe and we’re here to assist you along the way. It’s never too early to prepare and plan for localization. How a document is written and formatted will directly impact the amount of time and money it takes to translate it. To learn more about how to save time and money with localization services, contact us today.