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How to prepare documents for translation –
A client’s checklist

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Translation is one of the steadily growing businesses in the world and is expected to reach USD 70 billion by 2023. Since we are living in an era of globalization, the need to translate documents has increased dramatically. But what is the best way to do so and what should you take into account when preparing your documents to ensure optimal results, and save on time and money? Whether you are having your documents translated by an individual translator or a translation agency, here is the information you need to share with them and some important steps to help you prepare your documents for translation:

Outline the scope

• What is the purpose of the translation? To attract or to inform?
• Where will you use it? Are you going to publish the localized content or use it internally?
It is crucial to help your translation partners understand your business and product, as well as the purpose of the project.

Review your document

Check your files for any linguistic or cultural issues and make sure the text is clear and complete. In case you spot any ambiguities in the documents for translation, please provide context to avoid mistranslations and minimize the back-and-forths with the translation team.

Strip out any personally identifiable information

With so many data protection regulations out there, make sure to secure and hide any personal information that cannot be shared legally with others before sending your documents for translation.

Finalize your document before translation

Check and finalize your documents by completing an internal review and approval process. In large-scope and long-term projects, minor changes are natural and expected but extended changes in the documents for translation could cause confusion, delays in delivery time and added costs.

Provide project-specific details

  • Native editable files. To analyze and translate any file, your translation partners need to be able to edit the text in your native document or files. It is common for customers to send PDF files for translation; however, a PDF is not a valid source file. Instead, we generally use this file type for distribution on the Web and for print. Even though they can probably work with it, it might lead to additional costs and more time due to the extra formatting required for this type of files.
  • Source and target languages (and language varieties, if applicable e.g. Spanish for Spain or Spanish for Mexico). Define the languages that you want to translate the document into and make sure to let your translation team know if some of them need to be prioritized.
  • Reference material. Have you performed translation in the past in these languages for this product/content? If yes, do you have any language assets, such as translation memories, glossaries, reference material to be used/referenced?

Share your preferred deadline or cut-off date

Your translation partners will analyze the files and provide you with an estimated delivery date however, it is important to let them know in advance if you have certain time limitations e.g. a product launch, a file submission date etc. as they might be able to tweak the workflow to meet that date.

Communicate your needs and expectations

  • Are there any corporate guidelines for translation/localization or original content creation/authoring (e.g. brand guidelines, style guidelines, etc.)?
  • Do the translations you obtain go through an internal linguistic review (e.g. by your local teams/reps)?
  • What are your communication expectations from your translation partners? Do you prefer phone calls, online meetings or emails? And how often?
    Providing detailed instructions to your translation team from the beginning would help avoid confusion and any issues down the road.

Communication is key

Remember, communication, responsiveness and close collaboration are critical for the success and the timely completion of your project. It takes two to tango so be prepared and willing to respond to any translator queries that come along the way and most importantly provide your feedback at the end of the project. This will help your partners identify and resolve any possible issues, and ultimately improve the services they offer you!


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