10 Ways to ensure quality translations

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The path to achieving a quality translation from your Language Service Provider is one which is often overlooked.  Today, let’s look at some of the things that you can do to help make sure that the translation you receive meets your expectations.


  1. Choose the right service level

Most translation companies offer a variety of different service levels depending on what the translation you request will ultimately be used for.  It is very important to discuss with your agency the different levels that they offer and to choose the correct one for you project.


If you simply need a document translated so that you can learn what it says, then a relatively straight-forward translation should be sufficient.  However, if you intend to publish the translation or share it with customers of other third parties, then much can be gained from having a second linguist proofread the initial translation to improve the style and readability of the text and to make it read more like an original piece of writing in the target language.  For translating business critical content such as marketing material and slogans, you may even need to consider transcreation, where translation meets copywriting.


Make sure that you always choose the most appropriate service level, rather than the cheapest; otherwise the end product will never meet your expectations.


  1. Provide examples of previous translations

If you have had translations completed previously, then it is always a good idea to send these to your LSP.  It would also be advisable to include your own feedback on these translations.  If there were elements of the previous work that you were unhappy with, then this can be very helpful information for the linguists working on your new project, as it will help them to better understand what it is you are trying to achieve.


  1. Outline your brand identity

When translating content for business, it is critical to make sure that the translator understands your brand identity and the tone and message that you are trying to convey.  It’s all very well basing your marketing material around having a friendly and engaging tone of voice, but if you do not inform the translator of this, then they may adopt an approach which does not fit with your company’s image at all.  Translations completed by linguists who have not been properly briefed as to a company’s corporate identity will always sound jarringly out of sync with that company’s public image.


  1. Build in time for translation

This point may seem obvious, but it is often forgotten.  If you are launching a project that will require materials to be translated, make sure that you build time for the translations into your schedule.  This will avoid the translations having to be rushed at the last minute, which will of course be detrimental to their quality.


Almost all translation agencies provide free quotations of both price and turnaround time, so do not hesitate to contact them to get an idea of how long your translations are likely to take when you are setting out the initial timeline for your project, even if you don’t yet have the full content of the materials that you will be getting translated.


  1. Provide context

It will always help a translator to make the best decisions about terminology and style if they fully understand what the translation will be used for and, most importantly, who the target audience is.  Content being translated for high level inter-company communication should not be written in the same tone as content used in sales materials, and it is important to give your LSP the opportunity to choose the appropriate register for who will be reading their work.


  1. Choose the right provider

Choosing the right language service provider is extremely important.  Make sure you talk to potential providers about their services and quality control processes before instructing them, to make sure you are happy with how they work.  Be on the lookout for agencies who are accredited, particularly those that have the ISO 17100 standard, which is fast becoming the industry standard accreditation for high quality translation agencies.


Many LSPs specialise in a particular field or fields of translation, such as marketing, law, medical, etc.  Make sure that you choose an LSP that is comfortable with the nature of your material.


  1. Build a relationship

Learning how to translate for your particular brand and message effectively takes time.  It is important to partner with your LSP and stick with them over time, ensuring that they build knowledge and understanding of your company and your translation requirements.


Chopping and changing between LSPs for different projects will almost always cause more problems than it solves, as all the experience gained with your first provider will be wasted.  It is much better to choose a provider and then provide regular feedback to them so that they can continue to improve their ability to meet your requirements.


  1. Keep communicating

Always make sure that you feedback information to your chosen LSP on work that they have completed, as well as keeping them in the loop about potential future requirements.  As with any outsourced work, the more feedback you provide, the more satisfied you will be with the results.


It is also important to have someone available with good knowledge of your project to whom the translators can address any questions or queries about your content, to ensure that the linguists make the right decisions to fit your requirements.


  1. Allow time for research

At the start of a project the translator or LSP will very often need to carry out some research before they can make a start on the actual translation work itself.  Always bear this in mind when you request translation work, and be sure not to rush your linguists into delivering material to you piecemeal before they are completely comfortable with the project.  Asking for work to be sent back on a rolling basis is great for helping you to meet your deadlines, but can sometimes impact negatively on the end product, at least until the LSP is very comfortable with your material.


  1. Check your content first!

This point is overlooked surprisingly often, but is extremely important.  Always make sure that the quality of the material that you are sending to be translated is high.  If not, then don’t expect the translation to be high quality either!


These are just some of the ways that you can help to ensure that the translations you request are completed to the highest possible standard of quality.


If you think there is anything we have missed, or if you have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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