Top 10 Document Translation Tips

Document translation is one of the most common types of translation. As a business develops and grows, the amount of paperwork involved inevitably increases. Once an organisation is successful enough to begin operating overseas, it will have built up even more documentation, much of which may need to be translated for its new markets.

Certain documents are common to almost every industry in the world. Huge swathes of forms, contracts and manuals are necessary in order to make a successful transition into an overseas market.

Even in a person’s average daily life, written material features heavily. This means that document translation can even remain relevant on a personal level, with material such as birth certificates, diplomas, and qualifications often needing to be translated.

In this article we will look at why your documents may need to be translated by a professional, and give tips on how to ensure that the document translation process is as painless as possible.

Top 10 Document Translation Tips

Here are our top ten tips to help you with the document translation process:

Knowing the shortcomings of online translation tools

There are a number of free online services which offer a document translation service. Whilst these systems can prove useful when seeking a basic understanding of what has been written in a different language, it is a bad idea to rely on them when speaking to clients or customers. Such programs lack the necessary cultural sympathies and knowledge of syntax, meaning that there is a likelihood of poorly translated content.

Making your content easy to understand

In order to ensure the best quality translation of your content, the original copy should be clear and simple to understand. Eliminating potential ambiguities, local idioms and abbreviations will help to ensure that your target audience appreciates your intended message. It is also recommended to keep to short, simple sentences to allow for clear and easy translation.

Creating a thorough brief

One of the best ways to ensure a smooth document translation process is to create a structured plan. Ascertain as much information about the project as possible. You should have a firm idea of the required languages, tone and style of the translation. It can also be useful to gather together additional relevant materials such as industry reports and product information. The more information you can collate, the easier the document translation process will become.

Working with professionals

As noted above, there are a number of free online services, which provide free document translation. However, when it comes to ensuring accuracy, consistency and cultural sensitivity, there is no substitute for an experienced language expert. A good translator will be able to draw upon years of experience in both the chosen culture and the relevant industry. They should also be translating into their native language. Try and research potential translation partners fully, and ensure they can meet and exceed your expectations.

Sharing everything with your translator

Once all the relevant information has been collected, you should ensure you pass on as much of this as possible to your translation partner. Ensuring a translator understands the project fully by sharing your brief and any relevant content allows potential issues or misunderstandings to be flagged early on, increasing the efficiency of the process.

Preparing for overseas design differences

When English is translated into another language, the translated text will generally take up more space. This means that you need to factor in the relevant formatting differences to accommodate the extra characters. There are other design issues which may arise, depending into which language you are translating your material. Different cultures have different aesthetic standards, and certain colours and images can have dramatically different meanings. Try and work with your translation provider to ensure that you are aware of any potential design complications that may arise.

Being clear on file types

Depending on the type of document that is being translated, there are a number of different file types, in which it could be saved and delivered. You should try and ensure that you have chosen the file type that provides the highest level of quality alongside easy accessibility.  Be sure to clarify that your document translation provider can work with these file types before the project begins. Also be aware that different countries can sometime carry different file preferences, and therefore foreign market contacts may have issues accessing your translated content.

Sending your translator the best copy

It is always highly recommended to ensure that the only version of your content a translator receives is the final, completed one. Sending content before it is ready slows down the process. When sending your files through, it is also a good idea to label the correct version clearly. Avoid sending any unnecessary files alongside it.

Being aware of any security issues

If you are dealing with certain documents, particularly those with legal content, there may be security regulations in place regarding the handling of a document. There is a potential for sensitive data to be mistreated, and this could lead to a document being invalidated. Try and familiarise yourself with any storage, delivery and usage guidelines which may be in place for your documents. Again, a good provider of document translation services will be able to advise on this issue.

Thinking ahead

It is always worth looking to the future and thinking about whether or not your document will ever be amended or changed. Numerous factors could lead to another version of a document being created. Being aware of potential future modifications and additions will allow you to budget for them from the beginning of the project. Having a solid relationship with a good provider of document translation will help in this respect. Their use of translation memory software will allow easy amendments to a document, providing cost savings in the process.

There are a wide variety of different documents, and most of them may need translation. Hopefully this article has provided you with a better idea of the document translation process, and how to get the best results when working with a professional. If you have any further questions or would like a free translation quote, please contact a member of our customer services team on + 44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email

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