Preparing text for translation

Knowing how to prepare the text before submitting it to the translation company will save you time and money. A good translation does depend on how the original text is written. With this in mind, I have prepared some tips to help you to write text that is easier to understand, translate and be accepted by your market.

Tell your translation company what you are going to use the translation for. Your specific requirements will dictate how the translation is processed. Are your translations going to be printed? Are they going to be posted on line?

Think before you start writing. Make a note of the points you want to make. Ensure the text can be easily understood by a native English speaker. Proofread and finalise the source text before submitting it to be translated. Last minute changes, revisions or corrections may delay the translation process and incur additional cost.

Use plain English where possible. Keep your sentences short, use active verbs, provide clear instructions and use lists. Avoid jargon, abbreviations, slang, technical and legalistic terms. Keep your sentence length down to no more than 20 words, sticking to one main idea.

Be concise, sincere and imagine you are talking to your reader.

Use consistent fonts and formatting throughout your document.

Provide context for your main ideas. For example, Intake Officer could mean anything. Ask yourself whether a lay native English speaker could easily understand it.

Define acronyms, job titles and department names.

Confirm what doesn’t need translating and which words need to remain in English.

Provide us with a list of fonts used in the source text so that they can be easily matched.

Allow for text expansion or reduction of up to 30% of the original. This is important for websites, brochures and other translations that will be used in a published form. You may need to add more pages.

Provide as much explanation and background material as possible, including a glossary of terms or previous translations.

And last but not least, ensure that you can be easily contacted in case of queries that arise during the translation. Your interest and engagement in the translation process will not only ensure a better translation but will also help you understand your target market.