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How to prepare your files for document translation

By Neil Gauld, 

Preparing for document translation involves two key factors. First, you need to work with your translation services agency to scope the translation project. Second, you need to prepare your documents for translation. Fail on either of these counts and you can wave goodbye to any hope of an efficient translation process. Get these two things right, however, and you immediately benefit from better, faster and cheaper results from your translation services provider.

How to scope a document translation project

Your translation project scope document should involve all key stakeholders, including your translation services team, such as your dedicated account manager here at Brightlines Translation. This is essential from the start, so everyone is clear on achievable goals and time-frames, for example. We can help you understand the difference between translation and localisation, when machine translation works (and doesn’t!), how to cost your project and the practical steps required to make sure your translation project runs smoothly. On that point, choose your translation services partner wisely – see our blog, “How to choose a translation agency”.

Be sure to write and store your project scope document in an easily accessible format and location for everyone involved, so they can quickly review your document and add their own input and ideas.

1. Write a short description of your translation project

This should include what document file is to be translated, such as website content, software code, or brochure. Your translation team will need to know if the content is to be static or changing. They’ll need to know who the end-users or readers are, and where they are based.

2. Any special requirements for your project

For example, specify if you’re going to need the content continually updated in your Content Management System (CMS), specific WordPress translation plug-ins for a multilingual website, or typesetting for InDesign documents.

3. Specific terminology that must be used

Work with your translation partner to pull together a glossary of preferred and approved terms and translated equivalents for consistency and readability. This makes sure the translators translate your terms as you prefer the first time.

How to prepare your files for translation

The ultimate secret to a successfully translated document begins with a clean, well-prepared source file. This means that before it reaches us here at Brightlines, make sure your translation document file is finalised and correctly formatted. To be clear, a translation document file contains the words you need translating, whether that’s website content, InDesign files, a technical or legal document, or a global advertisement, for example. You can check out our translation services here.

1. Make sure you’ve got the final version of your document

Get this wrong, and you’ll waste time and money with slower turnaround time and additional charges. So try not to send an unfinished file with poor syntax and grammar, errors or spelling mistakes. Check and check again!

2. Correctly format your document for translation

Find out what file formats your translation services provider can cope with. Some may be able to deal with whatever you send them and also be able to offer advice on how to prepare them, such as Brightlines. Others may require your files to be in Word, Excel or PowerPoint, for example. If you send a scanned PDF, for example, you may incur extra charges for file conversion.

Make sure you agree the delivery format with your translation services provider before the project starts. For example, if your project is for a printed brochure and you need the translation to end up in InDesign, it’s no good if you receive the translation in a Word document, only for someone at your end to waste time copying and pasting into InDesign in a language they may not be familiar with.

A final note on document translation software

Ensure that your translation services provider uses a translation management system (TMS). This helps speed up the translation process, especially when it comes to future projects, when translators can quickly tap into your glossaries and translation memory and will speed up turnaround times, often more by more than 25%.

If you have a project you’d like to discuss with us, please get in touch – we’re always happy to help. In the meantime, feel free to check out how we’ve helped our clients over the decades.

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