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Six Tips for a Successful Technical Translation Project

A technical translation project consists of translating technical content such as operating manuals, service guides, product descriptions, troubleshooting guides and much more. Such content may be quite complex, lengthy and detailed. One of the basic things to know about technical translations is that professional translators, and ones that have subject matter expertise, should do the work. If this isn’t the case, the results of a poor translation can be quite serious when you’re talking about procedures and safety measures.

Consider partnering with a translation agency that has experience in technical translation services. A language service provider has the resources and expertise to provide accurate technical translations. Here are six more tips for a successful technical translation project.

#1 Use Translators Who Know the Subject Matter

For a technical translation project, it’s best to use translators who are familiar with the subject matter. Since technical translations can oftentimes be complicated and elaborate, it helps to use translators who are familiar with the industry and subject matter so that the translations will be more accurate.

#2 Create a Glossary of Terms

Technical Translation Project TipsTechnical content usually has a lot of specific terminologies, whether it pertains to industry, product or service. Creating a glossary with the most common technical words is especially useful to get the right translation in context. The glossary should have the term in each language, its definition, examples of its use and illustrations if necessary. The terminology can be reused in future projects, which will save the translator time and increase consistency and quality.

#3 Use the Advanced Features of Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) Tools

A CAT tool helps translators edit, manage and store translations. There are many different CAT tools, but they all generally work in the same way. A CAT tool helps to ensure consistency and quality amongst all the different text strings by using a translation memory (a repository for content strings) and a glossary to pre-populate a project.

In addition, most of these tools support advanced quality checks, which are extremely useful when translating technical manuals.

#4 Follow Any International or Country Standards

If there are any International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or country-specific standards to follow, make sure that the translator is aware of that before the start of the project and follows the guidelines.

For example, ISO 3864 specifies international standards for safety signs in markings and public facilities. The standard provides guidelines on how to design safety signs, including the meaning, color and symbols. ANSI Z535 is a U.S.-based standard that also covers safety guidelines. Make sure these guidelines are followed during the translation process.

#5 Translators Should Ask Questions

Technical Translation TipsTranslators should work with the client and ask questions if they have any concerns about the content of the technical translation. Sometimes a translator needs to have some reference or may need further insight about the context in order to understand the concept, so asking the right questions to the client is always encouraged. And ideally, the translator(s) would be trained on the client prior to the beginning of the project.

#6 Use Reference Documentation

It’s also helpful to understand if there’s some similar technical information that already exists that the translators can use as reference material. Before the project begins, find out if anything exists that may be similar in content. If training is involved, you can include this as part of the training.



Your technical translation project will be a success if you receive translations that are a clear reflection of the original content. Use the agreed-upon terminology. The tips in this blog post can help get you there.