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Optimise the quality of your translations

Everyone, these days, expects and deserves to read high quality translated content, whether on a website, in a brochure or in a contract.

In fact, they shouldn’t even notice that the text has been translated. It should read like original source text. A translation agency’s overriding goal is to deliver translations of the highest possible quality, regardless of the content.

There are, however, steps that you, the client, can take, which will help ensure that you have consistent, high-quality translated content across all your media.

Here are 6 simple tips:

In the words of W. Edwards Deming “Uncontrolled variation is the enemy of quality”. Choose an agency that delivers high quality, is reliable, and you trust. And then stick with them!

One might think that by putting each translation job out to tender and then choosing the cheapest offer that one can save money, but then the cost of variable quality has probably not been priced in. Over time an agency gets to know your company, your products, and your preferred terminology, style and tone. By chopping and changing translation providers, this learning process is being consistently interrupted and reset. This will certainly and clearly play out in mixed quality of foreign-language content. And the impression a website, for example, makes is only as good as the least well translated part.

All professional translation agencies work with customer-specific translation memories, which build in size over time. By splitting your work across several agencies, you will only be cheating yourself of future discounts (offered for matches and part-matches of the text to be translated with the existing translation memory), because no one agency will have a complete record of your translated content. These savings for matches can be considerable.

Consistent, high-quality content across all media
Lower translation costs
A dedicated agency that knows your company inside-out

The temptation is always there: It’s just a short segment of text, it saves time, it costs nothing….  But don’t be translated to translate something yourself unless they are exceptional circumstances and you really are a native-speaker in the target language with good understanding of the source language.

Otherwise it is just not worth it. As previously mentioned: the impression your e.g. website makes is only as good as the least well translated part.

The agency will also not have the self-translated content in its translation memory, so the same content might then be translated differently on a different occasion.

Consistent, high-quality content across all media
No false economies

There’s an old adage in the translation world: a translation can only be as good as the source text.

Ok, a highly skilled translator with a lot of time on his/her hands could improve a poor source document, at least not carrying across spelling and punctuation mistakes, but a well-written source document will always deliver better translation results.

Take enough time to write the source document well. If need be, have it written by a professional copywriter, technical writer or lawyer. Reread it a number of times. Have it read by someone else (in that same way as our translations are checked by a separate proofreader). And only then, when you have a final version, send it to your translation agency for translation. This will furthermore save time and money.

There are also additional cost implications in the future of error-filled source documents. If the errors are later corrected by the client and those corrected segments are then included in the content of a future translation job, the agency’s translation memory will not show 100% matches (which would not be charged for) but instead perhaps 95% matches, which although discounted are not free.

Higher quality target texts
Quicker turnarounds
Lower future translation costs

Colloquialisms and slang may sound great in your own language, but they can be near impossible to translate. Meaning that the translator has to in a sense create new copy, which, although done with the best intentions, might not transfer the desired message. Try to think internationally when creating copy that is going to be translated.

The above is also true of double entendres and word plays. They are usually untranslatable and it can take a lot of time to come up with alternative wordings.

→ No unintended translations
Quicker turnarounds

If you have terminology-rich content, there can be few things more important than ensuring the correct and consistent translation of that terminology. And from the very start. Terminology has implications for your brand identity, clarity, safety and therefore legality.

If you already have an internal terminology list, let your agency have a copy and they will create a “termbase” from it. Alternatively, have your agency extract terminology from existing documentation and then check its correctness. A termbase typically contains all terms that are important to the client in all relevant languages, which might include product names, parts, tools, ingredients, etc., as well as terms that should not be used. This approved termbase would ideally already exist before a translator starts on their first project for a client, the approved translation of terms being suggested by the software as they are encountered by the translator. The software also spots incorrect use of terms.

Read more about it in this case study.

Consistent + correct use of terminology
Higher quality target texts
Quicker turnarounds
→ Stronger brand identity

Time pressure is another enemy of quality, as in most areas of life. Translation agencies understand that clients often have tight deadlines to meet, but the more time you can leave for the translation process the better. The translation step should not be considered an afterthought but as important as the creation of the source text. Getting behind schedule and then expecting the translation agency to make up the lost time is not the solution.

You should reckon with a translation rate of about 2000-2500 words a day, with time added for the proofreading step. For complex, specialist texts more time will be required.

Urgent translations, involving the translator working through the night or on weekends, will also likely attract additional costs.

Higher quality target texts
No additional charges

Personalised Advice

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+43 (0)662 890039-0