As you create your source files for professional document translation services, you may not realize that there is a lot you can do on your end to improve the quality and ease of your translation while reducing costs. Details, such as how a document is written and formatted, for example, can have a significant impact on the time, complexity, and cost of the translation.
Here are the six key factors to consider when working with a professional translator to make your translation project as cost-effective and uncomplicated as possible.
1. Think about the end result first
Before you approach a professional document translation service, think about what you want translated and how you will use it. For example, if you want your website translated, take the time to determine what pages really need to be translated. By carefully going through your website and noting which pages are critical to communicate to your international audience and which are not, you will pay only for the pages you need rather than having the entire site translated.
Likewise, consider how your target language may affect the layout and design of a document or website and how you want to address that issue, especially if the language reads in a direction other than left to right. By thinking about these types of “result” questions up front, you can make updates and adjustments to the source files that will improve the overall quality of the translation and make it less costly to complete.
The types of documents will also determine exactly what needs to be translated and its layout. For example, medical records and birth certificates will be approached differently than brochures or instruction manuals by most translation agencies.
2. Make your writing translatable
How the original document is written matters when it comes to translation. A document filled with acronyms, colloquialisms, and cultural references will not work with a global audience, and will require much more effort for the professional translator. Moreover, cultural references will need to be eliminated to avoid misunderstandings or even offending your target audience.
This is one part of localization, a service provided by professional document translation services. Localization is the practice of finely tuning your messages so that they are acceptable and sound natural to various audiences while still communicating what is necessary. It also includes correcting for local linguistic nuances that exist within the same language, but vary by region. As you understand more about this, you will better be able to write simply so the translator can more easily work with your messages.
Long, rambling sentences are difficult to accurately translate and therefore more costly. With document translation services typically priced by the word—every word counts. Writing in simple, short sentences, avoiding jargon or words with multiple meanings, and conveying a single thought per sentence, will help keep costs down and accuracy up. It will also help improve your professional translator’s turnaround time for your project.
3. Keep language consistent
Using four different synonyms to say the same thing can be costly when it comes time to translate. Instead, use boilerplate text, whenever possible, and keep your key phrases and technical terms consistent throughout your document. Most professional document translation services use a translation memory to manage translation projects. When the software comes across a word, phrase, or boilerplate text already used, it automatically inserts the previously translated text to be reviewed and accepted or revised by the translator.
This client-specific glossary of terms is great over the long run too, as it increases translation efficiency and accuracy, and your preferences can be added into your company’s database. It also ensures that you will spend less time reviewing projects upon receiving your completed translations, as you can guarantee that the correct verbage that is used within your company has been applied to your translation projects.
Not only can translation services charge less for content that gets repeated, it makes the translation process more efficient, allowing you to get your project completed faster. Translation memory can save hours, or even days, off large translation projects, making for considerable savings.
4. Design with translation in mind
If you want your translated document’s layout to be similar to the original design, you need to design the original document with adequate white space. English is a compact language compared to most other languages, which means almost any other target language is going to need more space to say the same thing. Translators are accustomed to this, but if this is your first experience with document translation, the concept of text expansion may be new to you.
Not allowing enough space in document design can increase translation project costs. For example, if your PowerPoint presentation text boxes are already packed with copy, the professional translator will have to spend time and effort reformatting the boxes to fit the longer translated copy. And the time required to do this will be reflected in your project cost. By leaving enough white space when you first format the document, the entire translation process is smoother, costs less, and ensures that your document retains its original look and feel.
5. Use the right tools to create your source file
Microsoft Word is fine for short documents, but if you are developing a lengthy manual, the investment in an appropriate publishing or graphical software application is more than worth the cost. Not only will it be easier to lay out and design the source file (Microsoft Word is notorious for being temperamental when it comes to formatting large documents), it will also make it that much easier and faster for any translation company to deal with formatting issues that often occur as a byproduct of translation.
Likewise, it is important to always provide the source file for translation. Most translation firms can replicate standard file formats and placement of graphics if they have the source file.
Sending scanned images as PDF files for document translation services prohibits the translation provider from appropriately formatting your document. It can also significantly impact the cost of your project and the appearance of the final translation. Locked down PDF files can also be costly, as translators may need to completely rekey your document.
Ensuring that the documents you need translated are created for success from the start will help keep translations within your budget.
6. Utilize your translation service’s expertise
Many professional document translation services have expertise not just in translating your documents, but also in formatting the translated document to replicate the look and feel of your source file. This additional service is usually well worth the cost. Even if you have a designer or agency on hand, chances are they will not be experienced, professional linguists.
They may not have the appropriate software version, and may be unable to determine the appropriate place for line breaks or other critical formatting issues that require an understanding of the target language. Having your translation provider finalize the formatting will improve the overall quality of the document. And, in cases where ISO certification is required, may even be necessary. It also keeps your translation provider fully in control of all aspects of quality, through delivery of your final file.
By planning ahead, you will not only make the process easier for you and your translation partner, but you will also be able to keep your costs lower and maintain consistency across all of your documents.
International Language Services provides professional document translation services that include accurate translation, localization, formatting, editing and proofing. Our native linguistic specialists are also subject matter experts in a number of highly technical industries. Guided by dedicated project managers who work to maintain our high-quality results and ISO certification, our document translation services are second to none.
When it is time for your next document translation project, partner with a translation services provider that is committed to excellence and customer satisfaction in everything they do. Contact International Language Services for more information.