Eight Steps to Successful Localization in Technical Communication

Welocalize’s Louise Law recently contributed a feature article to tcworld print and e-magazine, March 2017 issue. The article, titled “Eight Steps to Successful Localization” looks at some best practices and techniques for the successful localization of technical communications. tcworld GmbH is a global services company, which organizes business conferences including tekom, Europe’s largest professional association for technical communication.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

Many global brands and organizations embark on a global journey, with the intention of creating value, equity and, ultimately, revenue. Content is developed at many stages along this journey. It may start with protecting intellectual property by registering an innovative patent in multiple locales and continue through to creating user manuals and marketing material.

In a global organization everyone is affected by content and localization. Whether your job is in legal services, finance, engineering, technical writing, marketing, sales, customer support, human resources or product development, you are dealing with content that needs to be written, engineered and translated to reach multiple audiences.

Translation of technical communication

Specific priorities apply when it comes to translating and localizing technical content. Translated technical documents, or any complex or regulated content, must be as accurate, relevant and as concise as its source. Technical documents are high impact content requiring both linguistically and culturally accurate translations. Other information, like user generated content (UGC), has a lower impact.  UGC translation can reflect the message or concept, but does not necessarily need to stay linguistically faithful to the source.

The full article featured in tcworld magazine outlines eight best practices and techniques to ensure the successful localization of technical documents in today’s content-rich world. These include:

One: Use consistent style and tone

Localized technical documents not only need to achieve a high level of quality and accuracy, but also maintain a consistent style and tone of voice across multiple languages, content types, file formats and platforms.

Two: Garbage in, garbage out

Poor, nonsensical input will produce undesired output, regardless of the target language or the quality of the translation. If, on the other hand, the source meets required levels of quality and business objectives, then any translations or transcreations will meet set standards.

Three: Help localization teams to get to know the product

Many global organizations send teams of translators to product trainings so they can truly experience the product or service. As global business evolves, providing in-context information to localization teams is crucial to gain commitment to a brand.

Four: Be open to transcreation

Translation of technical documents requires high quality and accuracy. However, developing content that is linguistically and culturally appropriate may require some transcreation work. This means tweaking the translation whilst retaining key concepts, messages and facts. Transcreated content and illustrations may not linguistically represent the source 100 percent, but it is better received by the end-user, which is the ultimate goal.

Five: Prepare graphics well

Technical manuals and documents contain many complex graphics which may require the insertion of [translated] text. Including original graphics in translated documents is important, but not always possible. Providing access to text layers in the original graphic files will increase cost savings and reduce turnaround times.

Six: Consider text expansion

When you translate from English into another language, the translated text will take up more space. Most languages are longer than English by about 15 percent. Languages, such as Russian, can be up to 40 percent longer than the English version. Once the text in the graphic is translated, text expansion can cause problems with the original layout of the graphic.

Seven: Consider the use of CAT tools

Graphics are usually localized with the use of computer assisted translation (CAT) tools. There is software available that allows translators and DTP engineers to automate the extraction and insertion of text from graphics created in software such as Illustrator or CorelDraw into rtf files.

Eight: Consider multimedia content

As content volumes grow, content types will continue to evolve. Multimedia, video especially, will continue to drive communication. According to YouTube statistics, 3.25 billion hours of video is watched on YouTube each month. Consumers all over the world are spending increased amounts of time viewing multimedia, using a wide variety of devices. Technical information is no exception.

Technical communication requires high levels of quality and accuracy, both at the source and in translation. With increasing digitalization, evolving content types and consumer habits, there are a number of emerging best practices and techniques that can be applied to the preparation and successful translation of technical content. A strategic approach to localization enables global business growth and ensures products and services are safely distributed around the world, driving revenue and creating value on the globalization journey.

YOU CAN READ THE FULL PUBLISHED ARTICLE HERE: Eight Steps to Successful Localization, By Louise Law, Welocalize Global Communications Manager, louise.law@welocalize.com

For more information on managing the translation of technical communications, email marketing@welocalize.com