Most people expect their translation to be perfect, or very close to it. But what’s key to a great translation is great source material from the get-go! Here are some tips to prepare your material for your translator… and the world!
Keep the End Result in Mind from the Beginning
Starting with a clear mandate and high-quality original sources can make or break a translation. Make sure the sentences are easy to understand and write with translation in mind. That means relatively simple sentence structure, less nuance than you might usually include, and clear, concise language.
Discuss Your Expectations Beforehand
The clearer your ask is, the better the chances that you’ll get the results you want. Before you send your project to your translator, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have your expectations been clearly communicated to your translator or translation project manager?
- Do you know what tone you want and who your target audience is?
- Have you provided your translator with context, sources, and examples if available?
Be Consistent in Your Punctuation, Style Usage and Capitalization
How you present your material to your translator—and to the world—may be clear to you but not clear to your readers. Make your structure as clear as possible by choosing a specific style and sticking to it.
Check Facts and Dates… Twice
Your translator will not necessarily pick up on factual errors, so it’s incumbent upon you to do so instead. Make sure your facts are accurate and your dates line up, and provide sources if possible.
Make Sure Your Instructions Stand Out
Will it be clear to your translator what is a note for them and what is text to translate? If in doubt, spell it out… and mark it up! Highlight your copy or use a different style for instructions vs text that needs translation—for example, format all your instructions in red.
Ensure Text That Does NOT Need to Be Translated Stands Out
Much like the above, do your translator a favour and be very clear on what translation is needed, where. For example, highlight text to indicate what does and what does not need to be translated. Your translator cannot read your mind, so you’ll want it to be as clear as possible
- A good translation comes from good source material. Make sure your material is up to par.
- Follow a clear style, fact-check, and keep style conventions like title capitalization and punctuation consistent throughout.
- Make sure your translator is clear on the task. Mark up your documents with clear instructions and communicate your expectations clearly. Your translator will love you for it.
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