Translation Tip of the Week: Supply Great Content

So you’ve done the research to find the best translation agency for your business and have just signed off on that first project? Now is the perfect time to start laying the foundation for a productive relationship that delivers high-quality documents, on time and within the budget. This process begins with you, the client! There are a number of components to consider when supplying your vendor with content, and many of them have a direct impact on both the caliber of the final product and the ease of the overall process. Follow the guidelines below to help ensure peak performance from your language services provider.


Do an Initial Review

As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out”. Confusing, inaccurate, or ambiguous content in the source text will remain confusing, inaccurate, or ambiguous in the target text. Moreover, translators are not and should not function in the role of content editor. Experienced translators understand the importance of faithfully adhering to the source text without “cleaning up” questionable content or inserting their own corrections. In addition to simply not being part of the job description, attempting to fix source-text errors opens a translator up to a host of liability issues and dissatisfaction from the client.

In an effort to avoid potential inaccuracies and misunderstandings, language services providers will oftentimes reach out to their clients in order to confirm or clarify content. This approach is far more appropriate than simply “guessing at” meaning, but it also demands more time and can lead to delayed deliverables and unmet deadlines. A healthy dose of communication is necessary for the success of any relationship, but translation clients can cut back on some of the unnecessary back-and-forth by carefully reviewing all source materials before they are submitted.

Avoid Colloquialisms

When it comes to translating business texts, the most suitable material consists of neutral language that does not rely on conversational turns of phrase or heavy use of slang. Naturally, many fields have their own jargons and industry-specific terms. Professionals in highly-specialized industries such as finance, engineering, or IT, for example, are advised to create a glossary of relevant terms in the source language along with their approved translations in the target language. These proprietary term banks help to remove some of the uncertainty and potential inaccuracy in the translation of specialized language. The result is a higher-quality product with a faster turn-around time.

Don’t Embed Text in Images

By following this simple tip, translation clients save time and money on each project, all while helping their translators not go gray prematurely as they parse through un-editable text. This rule of thumb applies to any document components, including graphs and charts, where the text is embedded in an image file and cannot be edited separately from the image. A translator or agency will first need to extract the text in order to translate it. If they are lucky, the new content may fit the original image and can be reinserted. The more likely scenario, however, is that the entire image will need to be redesigned to accommodate the target-language content. To avoid this headache, make sure to provide content that can be opened and edited with a word processor. Your vendor will thank you!

About the Translation Tip of the Week Series

ALTA Language Services shares tips, tricks, and translation best practices. These industry insights are especially helpful for companies and individuals who work with translation agencies on a regular basis, or are in the market for complex translation services.

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