Success criteria to consider for every translation project

To help us deliver you a quality translation there are some success criteria you should consider for every translation project:

  • Define what the translation is for – is it for information only? Is it for publication, therefore needing proofing? Is the language technical, market-based, legal, etc?
    Also specify precisely what language is needed – Spanish for Madrid or Mexico? English in the UK or US?
  • As much reference material as possible is useful – previous approved translations, examples of style and tone of company documents (e.g. how does your organisation usually deliver information?), product information, glossaries, clarification of acronyms (should these be translated or not?), terminology, etc.
  • If you need your translation to be ready to print, please provide  the original (source) files used to create the brochure/manual/etc (InDesign, Quark, etc); any linked files (images); the fonts used (NB – fonts do not necessarily support all languages – check with us before you design work around a specific font library).
  • If you need your website translating, please do not simply provide the URL:  if possible arrange to have the site files sent to us, or have the content extracted and send it in a copy platform, database, or any convenient form.
  • Specify the file types (Word, Excel, PDF, etc) you will supply, and what type of delivery file you will need in return.
  • Allow sufficient time:  individual translators can typically translate 2500-3000 words/day. Proofreading = 8000-10,000/day. (Consider – How much time did your team spend producing the original?). We can use more translators to work on your document and thus reduce the time, but you must bear in mind that using more than one translator may mean the final document is not as consistent or flow in precisely the same style. We do however, on such projects, always allocate a language lead who will co-ordinate the linguistic and stylistic aspects of the translation and collate one final, continuous and consistent document.
  • Ideally, send us your documents via email – but we can work with whatever format suits you best.
  • Rather than blindly translating documents in full (hundreds of pages) decide which information is actually required.
  • Take the burden off the words. Judicious use of maps, pictograms and diagrams can be far more effective with international readers than literary ramblings and hyper-technical descriptions. Also avoid culture-bound clichés – references to your national sport may well fall flat. Ditto literary/cultural metaphors. Keep some local flavour if you like, but keep this to a minimum. Finalise your text before starting the translation. Tempting as it may be to get your translation project rolling as quickly as possible, having translators work from a draft-in-progress will almost always be more time-consuming, hence more expensive (and probably more frustrating), than waiting for the final text to be ready. Worse yet: the more versions you have, the more likely it is that errors will creep into the final version. Sometimes you have no choice – sometimes deadlines are so tight that work on the translation must begin before you’ve finalised the original text. If this is the case, be sure to time and date-stamp each version and mark changes from one version to the next clearly for your translators.
  • Tell the translation company if any words (usually product names) are to be left in English as internationally recognised terms, or localised.
  • Indicate whether conversions (e.g. inches to cm, or pounds to kg) are to be done by the translator.
  • Translation out of English can expand text by up to thirty percent, so be sure to leave white space in any publishing design.
  • Proof your own work thoroughly before sending it for translation – even a simple typo can lead to problems! Check and confirm official names, spelling of personal names (e.g. Jill/Gill, Shaun/Sean, etc). Also specify whether the people are male or female as some names can be either, e.g. Kim, Sam, etc.