Role of Technology in Localizing Technical Communications

96220781There are different priorities when it comes to translating and localizing technical content. Translated technical documentation must be as concise as the source content. Key focus points include consistency, correct terminology and technical accuracy.

What role does technology play in producing high quality technical documentation? One often assumes each word and diagram must be addressed and managed by human translators. Actually, there are a number of tools that can be used to help produce ongoing, high quality technical translations while managing deadlines and budgets.

Machine Translation (MT) for Technical Communications.

When translating and localizing technical content, MT can be a great tool. Machine translations is not a standalone tool, nor a magic wand that can fix the mismatch of growing content volumes and decreasing budgets. It is a productivity tool within the content translation supply chain. To continue to achieve high quality, MT with post-editing can still speed up the translation cycle, faster and cheaper than using 100% human translators. With these strengths particularly beneficial to technical communication, it is hard to ignore MT.

“It’s the reality of our industry now,” says Nicole McColgan, Senior Project Manager at Welocalize. “Machine translation is not a replacement, but a progression. Quality is still valued, so this is where post-editing comes in.” Post-editing is becoming an increasingly valued skill with the rise of MT to increase the quality of the MT output.

Terminology Management for Tech Docs.

The terminology used in technical communications can be quite specialized. You should consider the in-house terminology that each client utilizes and apply it appropriately. In her blog, Welocalize Senior Translator Sarah Evans, recommends building a spreadsheet of extracted key technical terms for each client using a specialist tool like MultiTerm Extract. This helps you to speak the clients’ language.  This is especially crucial as clients tend to use technical content internally, so communication between the vendor and client needs to be clear to gauge exactly what the client wants in translations. Click here to read Sarah’s blog, The Importance of Effective Terminology Management.

“Welocalize focuses on the client’s needs, making any suggestions for improvement and listening to them,” notes Nicole McColgan. “Managing terminology effectively ensures that the translation process is faster, as there is less time spent on researching terminology for specific clients. It also reflects well on your company, as consistently accurate and timely technical translations are a top priority for the client.”

Management Systems: Translation and Content.

The adoption of a content management system (CMS) helps content to be translation-ready, resulting in a quicker turnover time, benefiting the client and the language service provider (LSP). CMS’s may not be a direct tool for localizing and translating technical content; however, they certainly help in the preparation of content. Using a CMS will benefit clients in the long run with all types of content being effectively and centrally managed. A CMS also can run in tandem with the translation management system (TMS) used by the LSP, making the whole process smoother and more automated. The TMS also benefits both the client and LSP with its terminology database, translation memory and automated localization workflow.

Even complex technical documentation requiring high levels of accuracy and quality can benefit from automation. Technology systems like MT, CMS, TMS and terminology management tools play an important role in the overall translation process and can help organizations produce more high quality content to their global audiences.


Louise Donkor is a member of Welocalize’s global marketing and business support group.