Translation Tips for Marketing Professionals: Part 2

(continued from Part 1)

Speed Up the Translation Process by Creating a Glossary

Even the best translators may have difficulty translating a key marketing concept or catch phrase. Glossaries help translators better understand your products and marketing concepts. If you compile English glossaries of key corporate and marketing terms, your translation company's project manager can create multilingual equivalents for review by your international sales staff.

Glossaries can also serve as the foundation for translation memory databases. The use of translation memory software can lead to improved linguistic consistency and lower translation costs. Creating glossaries requires a little effort, but it can make a big difference in the quality and consistency of the finished translation. If you update glossaries on an incremental basis, maintaining them will seem painless.

Layout Logistics and the Importance of Text Size

Printed marketing material is usually easy on the eyes. Sadly, an English brochure that looks good on paper might present a host of problems to the desktop publisher who is localizing it into another language.

Most people in the United States consider an English-language brochure with ten-point font readable. Romance language translations (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, French) are generally 20 to 25% longer than the English source text. If your brochure is translated into Italian, the amount of text expansion may cause formatting problems, so the desktop publisher really has only two options: he or she can shrink the point size of the text, or shrink the leading. The result? Your Italian-based sales representative is handing out brochures that are crammed with small print. And it is your marketing message that is barely visible.

Keep this in mind when you set up your English document and pagination properties. Leave plenty of white space on your pages to allow for foreign language text expansion. Allow only minimal hyphenation when setting your preferences, and eliminate narrow columns that might force awkward line breaks when translated into other languages.

Learn about Rennert Translation Group's Desktop Publishing Services.

Avoiding Technology Problems with Software Specifics

If the native application files are not set up correctly, the result may be longer turnaround times and higher formatting costs. Very often these are the result of easily avoidable file, font, or art problems. Here are some specific pointers to help you avoid potential issues.

  • Make sure that your English documents are "clean." In Microsoft Word documents, turn off "Track changes", and accept or reject all revisions.

  • If you are sending Quark or InDesign documents, include all artwork, and send your translation company compressed files (ZIP on the PC, SIT for Mac). Generate PDFs to ensure that fonts and illustrations appear correctly in your translated files.

  • Be aware that your Desktop Publishing specialist may not have some of the unusual and expensive fonts that were used in your files, especially if they are Mac fonts. He or she may have to work with a similar font that your graphic department can substitute for later. Also be aware that some fonts do not correctly display foreign characters.

  • Illustrations and graphics can help clarify information in any language. However, if text is embedded in the illustration or graphics, translating it can cost you a bundle. Each graphic will need to be altered in order to translate the embedded words, increasing the time and cost of reformatting the document for each language. If you want graphics to be translated, don't send JPEGs or TIFs-send editable Illustrator or Photoshop files.

  • If your website is being translated, make sure there is enough room for text expansion in your graphic links and menus.
Gathering all your files takes a little time up front, and may seem like a lot of effort when all you want is quick quote. But by doing this before the production process starts, your translation company will have time to address any questions or problems with your file, and your quotation will be more accurate. This is much more preferable to your translation company discovering file issues in the midst of production, when deadlines are looming.

Learn about Rennert Translation Group's Website Localization Services.

Tracking Multiple Revisions of Translated Documents

Perhaps your translation projects will involve translation of an English document into four or more languages. As a result, many different versions of the same document may end up on your desk. Revision marking and language coding is an easy way to avoid mix-ups, especially for "same language, different country" situations, such as Brazilian and European Portuguese. Your company may already have a document tracking system in place for your English documents, and it may be adopted to include foreign language versions of those same documents. If not, you can create a code that will make tracking translation projects a snap. Just add one or two descriptive lines in small type to your English document, in an unobtrusive place. For instance, your English-language code for your latest Widget sales brochure might read:

Widget model 456 - ENG
Last revised: 11-05

Once this document is translated into German, the code will change slightly:

Widget model 456-GER
Last revised: 11-05

German was simple, how about Portuguese? A different code for each country can help eliminate confusion:

Widget model 456-POR
Last revised: 11-05

Widget model 456-BRA
Last revised: 11-05

This tracking system doesn't take much time to implement, and it can save a great deal of confusion. Give it a try-unless you are confident you can tell the difference between Dutch and German or Norwegian and Swedish.

Next, learn about reviewing and archiving the translated documents after the translation in Translation Tips: Part 3.