Whether your business is moving into a global marketplace for the first time—or you’re just now creating content that needs to reach an audience speaking a different language—exploring translation services can feel overwhelming.

You will have questions about where to begin, how to begin, what materials should be translated, and in what order. And, of course, how to accomplish all this while getting top quality work at the best possible value.

International Language Services is an experienced translation company with a stellar reputation. We’ve been providing high-quality professional business translation services for more than 35 years. We know how to guide companies like yours as they prepare to use document translation services.

Knowing how to begin a translation services project is the first key to success. We want you to have a great first experience with document translation services, so here’s a user’s guide to get you started.

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Prepare to Contract a Translation Services Provider

Your first step is to choose the right translation services partner. We use the word “partner” because translating your company’s important documents and communications is truly a partnership effort.

There must be ongoing communication between your company representative and a dedicated project manager whom the translation company has assigned to oversee your project. This person will be responsible for guiding your project over any bumps and seeing it through to your complete satisfaction.

It is best that the translators working on your company documents are both native speakers of your target language and subject matter experts in your industry. This will ensure accurate translations, by giving consideration to unique terminology and cultural nuances.

We always recommend your translation services provider follow ISO-certified quality processes in order to provide you with the highest possible quality result. Only those companies that have made the extra effort to document processes to ensure quality are worthy of your trust and resources.

Prepare Your Company for Translation Services

After your company chooses a translation agency, there are a few details you should work out. The translation services provider you choose can provide assistance with these:

Administrative Tasks

Your company should be aware that a significant translation project is about to begin. It is best if a single point of contact is appointed as the connection between the company and your translation services partner.

He or she will work with your translation vendor on every aspect of your technical translation project from beginning to end. This streamlines communication and helps avoid conflicting instructions from different departments within your organization.

You should also build a list of files and instructions for the translation company that includes reference materials, source files, style guides or glossaries, and a scope of work for the translation project. This will be a valuable resource as your translation partner begins getting familiar with your company documents and specific requirements.


Planning ahead for the costs of your translation services project allows time for budgeting and approvals from the affected departments.

Will a single department within your company be responsible for the costs of translation? Will it be shared by more than one department? Or will it be passed on to your customers?

Determine the budget scope. If your company is undertaking a large project in phases that will last longer than a single budget cycle, you may need to stretch the costs out over several quarters.

Discuss costs and budgeting concerns with your translation agency. Ensure that funding details are dealt with early to avoid unnecessary delays in obtaining project approvals.


Top-quality technical translation takes time. Translation projects may include industry-specific terminology, unique character sets, challenging source document formats or missing graphics, and lengthy files. It’s usually unrealistic—and contrary to your best interests—to expect too quick of a turnaround on such documents.

Work with your translation services partner to establish a realistic and workable timeline. Both sides can gain a sense of what is needed and set an agreeable timeline with clear expectations.

One important thing to consider: Rushing your translation company can actually add time to what is required to complete the project properly. It is better to get organized than risk false starts and last-minute changes that can be detrimental to a timely and successful outcome.

Prepare Your Content for Translation Services

Now that everyone is on board with your translation project, it’s time to prepare the actual content that will be translated.

These steps, taken before turning over the material to your translation services provider, will save time and money—and help the translation process go smoothly.

Select What Is to Be Translated

Depending on your purposes for translation, you may be translating both outward-facing documents and inward-facing communications. Choose what must be translated and put into use first, and order other items accordingly.

Some files, such as instruction manuals, may build on previous translations, like user interfaces. Ask your translation provider if you are unsure about how to prioritize.

Ensure Good Writing

Writing for translation means all documents should be in simple English with short, clear sentences.

Limit dependent clauses. Using only one thought per sentence helps translators determine your meaning and aids in building your translation memory. Good translation writing also follows these basic principles:

  • Eliminating problem words or phrases
  • Using pictures and fewer words
  • Not embedding text within graphics
  • Preparing your file format for text expansion

A critical part of preparing your material for translation services is to provide the vendor with editable source files. This allows the translation company professionals to deal with the text as needed, moving and resizing, without employing time-consuming workarounds.

International Language Services is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company, and our team includes highly experienced native language translators who are also subject matter experts. When you’re ready to begin a document translation project for your organization, give us a call.


Not Just for External Audiences: Your Guide to Translating Internal Communications

When you think of document translation, you probably think of external content. But translating internal materials is just as important.