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Translating Technical Manuals

June 17, 2013

Technical manuals are specialized documents that describe in detail how to use a product, perform a complex task or process, or gives an overview on a product or service.  Translating technical manuals requires a specific skill set and subject matter expertise. There are different types of technical manuals meant for different audiences, and this also needs to be taken into account when selecting a technical translator. For example, translating a technical manual that instructs a factory worker on the proper use of machinery (operator manual) is quite different from translating a technical manual for service technicians to perform routine maintenance or to troubleshoot and fix problems that occur with that machinery (service manual).

If you are translating a technical manual from English into a foreign language, it is important to pay attention to numbers and measurements, since those need to be adapted to the metric system. Avoid technical and business jargon, which is quite common in English and never translates well. Finally, it’s important to use clear, concise language and use the correct technical terminology in the target language.

The critical factor when translating a technical manual is selecting a technical translator with excellent writing skills and expert knowledge of the subject matter. He or she should have a firm grasp of the related technical terminology in both the source and target language. Getting the technical translation proofread is a must–there is just too much detailed, complex information to rely on one set of eyes for the final product.

You can find out more about technical translations here.