Although a style guide is often not required when people submit a document for translation, many people don’t realize that a comprehensive style guide can effectively reduce the turnaround time and improve the quality of the translation, especially when the documents are for business purposes. For companies localizing their messages to better attract prospective clients from a different community, a comprehensive style guide would be of great help to the translator and ensure that the translation would align with the interests of the companies. Following are some tips for you to prepare a comprehensive translation style guide.
1) Set the tone for the translation
The same idea can be expressed in very different ways. Choosing the right tone is important for attracting people speaking a different language, working in a specific industry, and coming from a different community. Many businesses like to use simple language in their advertisements, but applying technical and educational language to the message may also help businesses build their brand as professional and reliable. Whether to use a conversational tone or an authoritative tone in the message to its clients and business partners is also an important decision for a company to consider.
When you need to have your business material translated, the translators may not have a good idea about what type of language and tone to use, and a style guide specifying the right tone for translation would help the translators prepare the translation in a way aligning with the brand image and value proposition of your business.
2) Prepare the reference material
Don’t assume that the translator knows everything about the industry and your products. A brief and concise introduction of your company, your products, and other things relevant to the document that needs translation may help the translator get to know your company in a very short amount of time, and the translation would be more accurate and consistent as a result.
But it’s important that you only provide material necessary for the translation. Sending too much reference material would be overwhelming for the translators, which may cause confusion and wastes of time that can be avoided.
3) Inform the translator of your preference regarding the logo and images
Some companies prefer the text on their logos and certain images translated, while others would just like to keep it in the source language. In addition, colors may have different meanings across different cultures, and you may want to adjust the colors you use on your graphics before presenting them to a different group of people. Translators would not make these decisions for you, and you need to let them know how you would like them to deal with the log and images. Revision can be made to the translation after it’s completed, but for time-sensitive projects, you should include the instruction in the style guide and send it to the translators before they start.
4) Provide previous translation if available
Being consistent is important when you are sending messages to the same group of people. Very often for a word in English, there may be several equivalents in another language, and the selection of the vocabulary and expression needs to be consistent when you send multiple messages to your clients or business partners to avoid confusion. A glossary would be ideal, but if you believe it’s not necessary or you are unable to create one, you may send relevant documents translated previously to the translators as a guidance for consistency.