When expanding your business into new markets, a professional technical translator must translate your marketing and technical materials accurately into the appropriate languages; this includes your product manual. An inappropriately translated product manual can be confusing for customers and may lead to negative reviews.
This blog post will outline the seven essential steps to successfully translating your product manual into any language!
Step 1: Preliminary research before translating.
The first step is to do your research; this includes understanding your target market, culture, and language. It's important to know which words will resonate with your audience and which ones might be considered offensive.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to researching the target audience for a translation project. While some people might rely on intuition or their own experience, those who want to get the most out of their research will spend time digging deep into their target market. Some helpful starting points include analyzing demographic data, examining user reviews and feedback, reading up on current industry trends and best practices, and interviewing subject matter experts in the field.
Additionally, it's essential not to overlook regional nuances and cultural differences; for example, a perfectly acceptable word in one language might be highly offensive in another; you need to study your target market and understand their culture and language. You need to know which words and phrases will resonate with your audience and which ones could be potentially offensive. To figure out what kinds of language may be considered inappropriate or inaccurate in your target market, you should be aware of shared values, beliefs, and social taboos. For example, suppose you are translating a technical manual into Mandarin Chinese. In that case, it's important to note that the concept of face or shame is deeply rooted in the culture, and certain expressions may be considered extremely rude or inappropriate. Likewise, Spanish speakers might highly value politeness and reserve certain expressions for informal situations only.
Therefore, you can avoid committing an unintentional faux pas through careful research by using the wrong word or phrase in your translation. With proper research upfront, you will have a better chance of crafting successful translations that resonate with your target audience.
Overall, anyone embarking on a translation project will benefit from spending time upfront doing thorough research on their target audience. With this strategic groundwork laid out, the translator will be well-positioned to deliver top-notch results that resonate with their audience and bring them closer to their business goals.
Other considerations at this stage include:
- The size and complexity of your project. For example, if you're translating a sizeable technical manual, you might need to engage multiple translators with different areas of expertise to get the job done right.
- Your budget and timeline. Be realistic about how much time and money you have to invest in your translation project, as this will affect the resources you can bring to bear.
Step 2: Creating a glossary of technical terms.
A technical translation can only be as accurate as the terminology used. Therefore, before starting the translation process, create a glossary of technical terms that the translator will use throughout the document.
Terminology is the bread and butter of any technical translation. Without a shared understanding of the terms used in a document, the translation process quickly goes off the rails. Therefore, before starting any technical translation, it's essential to create a glossary of technical terms. This way, you can ensure that you use the same terminology throughout the translation.
So how do you decide which technical terms you will include in your glossary? There are a few things to consider:
- The complexity of the document: If the document is relatively simple, with only a few specialized terms, then a shorter glossary may be sufficient. However, a more comprehensive glossary will be necessary if the document is more complex, with many technical terms.
- The audience for the document: If you intend the document for a general audience, the translator should include only standard terms in the glossary. However, if you target the document for a more specialized audience, more obscure words may need to be included.
- The document's purpose: If the document's purpose is to communicate information, then the translator should include only essential terms in the glossary. However, if the document's goal is to sell a product or service, more persuasive words may need to be included.
Once you've decided which technical terms you include in your glossary, the next step is to create entries for each term. Each entry should consist of the following:
- The term is in the source language.
- The term is in the target language.
- A definition of the term, if necessary.
- An example of the term being used in a sentence, if possible.
Creating a glossary of technical terms may seem like a lot of work, but it's essential for ensuring accuracy in your technical translation. By creating a comprehensive glossary up front, you can save yourself a lot of headaches down the line. Unfortunately, there is no single standard format for creating a glossary. The organization and content of glossary entries can vary widely depending on the subject matter and terminology you cover and the goals and objectives of the project. However, most glossaries generally include a short definition or explanation of each term and one or more example sentences that illustrate how to use the term in context. Some glossaries may also include additional information such as etymological origins or reference material for further reading. Ultimately, the ideal format for a technical glossary will depend on individual preferences and needs, so there is no formula you should follow when creating these kinds of reference materials.
Step 3: Translation of the text.
Once you have your research and glossary in place, it's time to start translating! When translating technical documents, it's essential to use a technical translator who is a subject matter expert. They will be able to translate the text and ensure that it flows smoothly and accurately.
Anyone who has ever tried to use Google Translate for a technical document knows that it's not always accurate. And while you could ask a bilingual friend or colleague to help you out, it's essential to use a technical translator who is a subject matter expert. They will be able to translate the text and ensure that it flows smoothly and accurately. So how do you find a technical translator? The easiest way is to search online for translation services. Just make sure to read reviews and check out past projects to find a reputable company with experience in your specific industry. Once you've found a few potential candidates, reach out and get pricing quotes. Then you can make your decision based on cost and availability. By taking the time to find a qualified translator, you can be confident that your translator will accurately translate your documents.
Step 4: Proofreading of the translation.
Once the translation is complete, it's time to proofread it. This step is vital to catch any errors your translator may have introduced during translation. But who should do the proofreading? The answer may surprise you: the best person for the job is a native speaker of the target language. They'll be able to spot errors that a non-native speaker might miss, and they'll have a better feel for what sounds natural in the target language. As for how many times a proofreader should proofread the translation, that's up to you. A good rule of thumb is to proofread it at least twice, but more if possible. And one last thing to keep in mind when proofreading a translated document: make sure to check for errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as well as any inconsistencies in terminology. With careful proofreading, you can help ensure that your translated document is error-free and ready for publication.
Step 5: Spell check.
After the proofreading step, it's time for a spell check; this is an important step to catch any typos or misspellings that the translator may have introduced during the translation process.
The process for spell checking a translation involves several key steps. First, you will need to select the appropriate software or tool for your needs. Many different options are available, such as online spell checkers, standalone apps, or built-in tools within word processing programs like Word or Google Docs.
Next, you need to determine who will be doing the spell check and how many times they should do it. In some cases, it may make sense to have a second set of eyes reviewing the document in addition to a dedicated spell checker.
Finally, you will need to carefully review the results of your spell check, correcting any identified errors and making any additional edits as needed.
Step 6: Quality assurance.
The final step in any translation process is quality assurance, more commonly referred to as QA. This last step is crucial because it ensures that the translated text is free of errors, flows smoothly, and makes sense. Professional translators can use many different software programs for QA, such as ProofHub, ProWriting Aid, and Grammarly. The decision of who should perform the QA step is up to the individual or company performing the translation. Generally, it is best to have someone other than the translator perform QA, as they will be able to catch any errors that the translator may have missed. It is also generally recommended to perform QA multiple times to ensure that you detect all errors.
Step 7: Desktop publishing (DTP) of the document.
Once the text is extracted in its final format, you should better adapt the design to suit the target market; this includes ensuring that the text is appropriately aligned, numbered, and formatted.
There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not your document needs desktop publishing (DTP). First, consider the overall look and feel of the document. DTP may not be necessary if it's just a simple letter or memo. However, if you're creating a more complex composition, such as a brochure or annual report, DTP can help to give it a professional edge. Another thing to consider is the level of customization you need. If you need to add a few images and tweak the margins, you can probably do that yourself. But if you need to create an entirely new layout, it's best to leave it to the professionals. So, how do you know if your document needs DTP? Just ask yourself these simple questions: Does it need to look more professional? Does it need to be more customized? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, then DTP may be right for you.
Final revision before submission.
The last step is to review the document one final time before submitting it for publication; this ensures that all the content is accurate and ready to be released!
By following these seven essential steps, you can be confident that a professional technical translator will accurately translate your product manual into any language!