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Tips for Managing Technical Translations

Technical translation is a subject area that requires very diligent work. Whether you are translating content for an application, user guide or technical manual, a key factor for success is attention to detail. The translation has to be absolutely accurate and true to the original source. Any mistakes or incorrect translations could lead to a misunderstanding of the products, malfunction of the products or personal damages.

Here are a few tips for managing technical translation projects:

  • Choose the team carefully. Technical translation requires complete understanding of the terminology so it is translated accurately. The assigned linguistic team must undergo translation tests to prove their capability to translate the technical jargon.
  • Keep the text short and concise. Make sure the source text is clear, concise and to the point. Be aware that some languages expand in translation and some fields in an application or manual might have character length restrictions.
  • Supply all reference files to the translation team. It is very important that the translation team checks the context during translation. The best approach would be to allow them access to the application or software, share any tutorials or even provide them with training on the products.
  • Prepare the localization kit. Make sure the content for translation is correctly and completely extracted from the source files. It might delay the product release or affect any print deadlines to discover missing translations at a later stage. Also, make sure the files go through technical preparation so the untranslatable content (tags, codes, images) are protected so they are not affected during translation. Additionally, keep the files organized in clear directories.
  • Prepare a glossary. The glossary should consist of the main terminology that is used across the file. It is important to get it translated and approved before starting the actual content translation as it facilitates the review process and ensures the key terms, like brand names and keywords, are agreed upon upfront.
  • Utilize translation memory (TM). A translation memory is a database where the translation team stores all previous translations and can leverage them while translating any update or additional requests. It ensures that the terminology is used consistently across all materials and any previous review edits are followed.
  • Conduct linguistic quality assurance (QA): After the translation is completed and imported back, conduct both linguistic and functional review and QA. The linguistic QA will ensure the accuracy of the translation as it appears in its final context. For software projects, it will also ensure that the text fits the required length and there are no truncations. For example, there are no abbreviations in Arabic, so fitting the English text length in software translations could be a challenge. Ā Functional QA checks things like hyperlinks to make sure they are leading to the correct path, etc.