When translating technical content, it’s important to take all of these usage scenarios into consideration and avoid the common pitfall of treating all documents like instruction manuals.
New York, US (PRWEB) February 26, 2015
When the topic of technical documentation comes up, most people think of user instruction manuals, but technical content is actually used for many other purposes beyond providing step-by-step instructions. Technical content is also needed for company websites, product data sheets, safety warnings, white papers and as specification documents for presentations or requests for proposals. When translating technical content, it’s important to take all of these usage scenarios into consideration and avoid the common pitfall of treating all documents like instruction manuals. To ensure the best possible technical translations for each audience and format in which the content will be shared, keep the following in mind.
Choose Translators with the Right Writing Style, Content Type and Industry Knowledge
Most language service providers maintain a roster of translators of various credentials, because their translation work varies by the client’s industry and language requirements. It’s important to use translators who specialize in the industry and type of content to be translated. This is an effective way to regulate the amount of technical terminology that appears throughout the documentation.
Style is also important. To translate a user manual, a provider may use one person who is strong in narrative instructional writing. To translate technical content for a website, the provider may choose another translator with a less formal tone who understands the content well enough to get the technical message across to readers.
Stay Consistent with Terminology
It is not unusual for a variety of terms to be used to describe the same concepts or products in technical manuals and other types of technical content. However, it is helpful for both the translators and the ultimate audience to keep terminology as consistent as possible. One best practice is to standardize if possible on a common set of terms to be used. The greater the variety in the terminology used to describe the same concept, the greater the chance for potential misinterpretation and error.
Consistent usage of technical terms also helps facilitate machine translation. When writers use certain terms repeatedly throughout multiple translation jobs, the translators will be able to rely on a glossary built for machine translation to help ensure greater accuracy and reduce project costs. Consistent terminology usage also ensures that if two or more translation specialists are working on different projects for your company, they both use consistent translations to convey your message to customers.
Avoid Wordiness Wherever Possible
Technical documentation that includes step-by-step instructions generally requires more words than most other types of content. Extra content is useful in this context because it helps readers understand each step and not feel lost. Other types of technical communications do not require so much exposition. In fact, brevity in the original text helps to keep translations simple and straightforward. Not only does reduced wordiness help readers better understand the content, but it helps the translator understand better as well, and enables them to complete their work more quickly and accurately.
Choosing the right translation partner is critical to ensuring high quality technical content translations. The right partner will have the expertise and the resources to assign the right types of translators for each type of technical project that is assigned to them. After all, when people say that something “reads like stereo instructions,” they aren’t being complimentary.
About Merrill Brink® International
Merrill Brink International (http://www.merrillbrink.com) is a leading provider of complete translation and language solutions for global companies and law firms, with special expertise in serving the legal, financial, life sciences, software, heavy machinery and corporate markets. A proven leader with more than 30 years of experience, Merrill Brink offers a wide range of language solutions including translation, localization, desktop publishing and globalization services.
Merrill Brink is recognized in the industry for its commitment to quality and its pioneering approach of leveraging technology to reduce costs, eliminate redundant processes and accelerate translation life cycles. Merrill Brink is certified to ISO 9001:2008; ISO/IEC 27001:2005 and ISO 13485:2003, and compliant to EN 15038:2006 and ISO 14971:2007. Together, these standards provide assurance that the most stringent process and quality standards for translation are followed. Merrill Brink International is a wholly owned subsidiary of Merrill Corporation.