How to save time and money on your translations

If you follow these tips, you will get translations that can significantly promote your success worldwide. Never underestimate the impact of a good translation – or the many pitfalls that a poor one can cause.  Remember: No matter what the language, good communication is vital to good business!

1. Long-term working relationships
2. Context
3. Reference material
4. Glossaries
5. Visuals
6. Contact
7. Easy-to-edit file formats

 

1. Long-term working relationships

Insist on working with contractors who know your company, its philosophy and its corporate culture – in other words, who "speak your language". That will streamline your translation process, eliminate possible sources of error and cut down considerably on revisions after the fact. Good for your schedule, your budget and your nerves.

2. Context
The more background information you provide (the purpose of your translation, who will read it, where it will be published, and other details), the easier it is for the translator to immerse herself in the text and follow the author's train of thought. It is astonishing how many different possible interpretations a single text can trigger when it is translated "in a vacuum". Relevant background information assures the translator that the text is on the right track and will achieve its objective, which saves time and effort in post-processing.

3. Reference material
If material that is similar or related to the text for translation is available, it is a good idea to send a carefully chosen selection of it to the translator. This will also save time, which not only reduces your costs but also improves the consistency of your terminology – an important factor, because nothing is more confusing for your end client than inconsistent pieces of communication from the same company (also see 1. Long-term working relationships and 4. Glossaries).

4. Glossaries
Most companies have their own individual language – even if they're not always aware of it. As the client, you can reduce the time and effort that goes into your translations (and thus their cost) and ensure that your translator "speaks your language" by including terminology lists with your orders. It goes without saying that they will always be treated with the utmost confidentiality. If your company does not have any glossaries yet, it is generally a good idea to start building some. The company can use them for internal purposes as well. Your translator will be happy to help you do this – be sure to ask about it!

5. Visuals
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and it really holds true – visuals (photos, charts, and other images) are helpful in translation too. Even if a visual is not part of the translation order, it will help the translator to better grasp the author's intent and reduce the cost of any potential revisions.

6. Contact
Your translator needs to be able to contact someone who can answer questions if something is unclear. That is because she also fulfills an additional key function:  As an external person, but one who deals very closely with the text, she can identify points that escaped notice within your organization but could strike an outsider as unclear or inconsistent. The translator acts as a "beta tester" for your communication.  Take advantage of this added value!

7. Easy-to-edit file formats
Files with complicated formatting often increase the time and effort that go into a translation because expressions vary in length from language to language. In some instances, the translation may shift the formatting completely. Source texts on paper call for formatting "from scratch" – which means more time and higher costs for you. To reduce costs, send your texts in electronically editable formats if possible, adding any graphics in read-only formats like PDF.

Congratulations!

If you follow these tips, you will get translations that can significantly promote your success worldwide. Never underestimate the impact of a good translation – or the many pitfalls that a poor one can cause.  Remember: No matter what the language, good communication is vital to good business!