Preparing Medical Device Technical Documentation for Translation
For medical device documentation, as with any files, careful preparation of documents to be translated can simplify the translation process. That means lower translation costs and more timely completion of your translation projects. Ideal translations begin with original documents that you created with translation in mind including IFU’s (Instructions for Use), Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), instruction sheets, operation manuals, installation guides, labels, and decals. Your documentation team can employ several strategies when preparing documentation that will make translation easier and more accurate. Here are some ways your documentation team can fine-tune documents:
- Create Glossaries & Style Guides – Glossaries containing technical terms and phrases, abbreviations, and acronyms used in your documentation are very useful. Our translators can translate these glossaries then add them to your translation memory database that will be used in the translation. Your in-country sales team and other company experts can assist by providing first-hand translations or reviewing glossary translations from our translators. This ensures that their preferred terms are reflected in the final translated files. A style guide that helps you produce consistency in documentation is also a great asset in preparing documents for translation.
- Expand Abbreviations & Acronyms – English abbreviations and acronyms often do not have any meaning in other languages. It is best to avoid these altogether in your writing. However, if they are an integral part of your English documentation, include complete expansions and explanations of these in your glossary.
- Avoid Using Multiple Synonyms – In English there are often many words with the same meaning. During translation, each synonym is translated individually. As an example, an IFU might use “warning” and “caution” interchangeably. If writers use a single word throughout the document, translation is not only simpler, but also less expensive.
- Avoid Using Colloquialisms & Metaphors – Every language has colloquial phrases and uses metaphors to express ideas based on cultural references. These can be very difficult to translate, since cultural references differ from region to region. For example, “Hit a home run” is only meaningful in countries where baseball is a popular sport. Wherever possible, use simple, direct English expressions.
- Write Simply & Clearly – English allows writers to communicate in complex sentences with multiple clauses and phrases. While English readers interpret these sentences automatically, they are very difficult to translate into languages that don’t use such structures. Wherever possible, write in short, simple, direct, declarative sentences.
- Write Consistently – If multiple writers work on a project, use a style guide and glossary to standardize language and form throughout. Where multiple words may be used to express the same thing, as with “screen,” “display,” and “monitor,” your style guide should specify a single word that will be used throughout your documentation including IFU’s, manuals, labels and decals.
- Use Boilerplate – Wherever the same information will be presented, repeating that entire sentence or paragraph, rather than writing it differently each time will save time and cut costs. That way, boilerplate text needs to be translated only once in each language and reused wherever it appears. Company descriptions, disclaimers, and product tables are common types of boilerplate text.
- Work as a Team with your Translation Services Provider – By using a single translation services provider consistently across multiple projects, you leverage many aspects of the translation process. Translation Memory, glossaries, and style guides work across document boundaries, and increase efficiency with each translation project. In addition, developing relationships between your documentation team and your assigned translation project manager assures that you receive finished translations that meet all of your expectations.
30+ Years of Translation Experience for Medical Device Manufacturing
At International Language Services (ILS), the relationship between your medical device manufacturing company’s documentation team and our project management team is a high priority. Through that relationship, many processes involved in your translations can be streamlined and coordinated. Working together to create a solid base of communication and standardized procedures, we create a smooth-running work flow that ensures the high-quality, accurate translations you need, while keeping translation costs to a minimum. Our translators specialize in over 150 foreign languages, including Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, Russian, Greek, Latvian, Bulgarian, Czech, Italian, Arabic, Hebrew, and more. Contact us today to discuss your upcoming translation projects. At ILS, we’ll work closely with your documentation team to produce translations that meet the high standards you demand.