If you’ve put a lot of time and effort (and perhaps a lot of money) into something, you want the result to be good. You’re proud of what you have achieved and then the moment for translation has arrived. You don’t speak the other language, so how do you know if it’s a good translation? Here are 8 tips for the perfect translation of your document!

You may be wondering what you can do to ensure a perfect translation. Particularly, if you’re not translating it yourself. Well, quite a lot. The actual translation of your document may not be up to you, but otherwise you’ve got quite a finger in the translation pie. Whether you have your document translated into Italian, Spanish, French or Chinese — with these tips you can always find a translator who’ll do a perfect job.

1. Plan well

Haste often makes waste and the same definitely applies to your translation. It’s one of those typical things we tend to forget — and only remember to take care of at the very last minute. This may not be a problem if you can deal with it internally and the document is of little value. However, if you want to engage the services of a translation agency, you simply need more time. A translator can only translate a certain number of words per day. You must have experienced it yourself; if you’ve already been working for 12 consecutive hours, the quality is no longer excellent. A good translator prevents that from happening. A translator translates 2,500 to 3,000 words per day, depending on the difficulty level of the text. A rush job is possible — but do plan for a higher expense as it will definitely result in an additional fee.

Good to know; do you work with a translation agency that employs project managers? They will sort out any concerns and help you with a realistic time schedule. Plus, they’re also keen to get your translation delivered to your digital doorstep on time.

2. Google (Translate) is (not) your friend

Google Translate is a great tool for translating an occasional word if you don’t know what it means or if you don’t know the translation. To avoid ordering a chicken salad if you’re actually a vegetarian while on vacation, for example. Or to start a brief conversation with that one German colleague putting your best foot forward. Are we however talking about an important document you need translated into another language? Then Google Translate really isn’t your friend. Even if it looks okay at first glance, chances are the translation isn’t very valuable. And that’s especially annoying if the reader doesn’t get what you’re trying to say, if you accidentally put in something offensive and damage your brand or if you’re busy digging a legal hole for yourself.

Also read: Why engaging the services of a good translation agency is so important; 10 translation errors

3. Hire the expert you need (or have it done for you)

We don’t buy bread from the butcher and we don’t let a tiler hang wallpaper. So why would you have your medical translation done by a translator with a marketing background? You probably put a lot of effort into creating a correct document. Why not put in, or have put in, the same effort when translating a text? A renowned translation agency will ensure that the right expert tackles your translation; the expert with specialist knowledge of the industry or sector your text belongs to as well as the text type.

‘Is the text type really important?,’ we’re sometimes asked. Yes indeed! If you want to set up a large, foreign webshop, it would be good if the search engines would know where to find you. A marketing specialist may write nice copy, but if no one sees it, it still won’t be of any use to you. That’s why it would be smart to outsource this job to a SEO translator who, as a marketing specialist, can tackle your advertising texts, because he or she knows exactly which persuasion techniques work well in your new market.

4. Find out which file format is the most convenient

Documents created in software such as Excel, PowerPoint, Word or Pages can be translated efficiently. There are even more formats that translators can work with straight away. However, if you submit your text in PDF form, it could be more of a challenge. Consult your translation agency to see which file format is the most efficient.

5. Need some formatting done?

What is a native translator and why do they provide better translations?
There are translation agencies that have an in-house DTP team.

A proactive translation agency not only takes care of your translations, but also of the way your document looks when it is printed. If your document needs to be edited after translating it to make sure it looks just as neat as before, it can be reviewed by our DTP specialist; someone who deals with desktop publishing. There are translation agencies that have an internal DTP team and they will gladly take care of the preparation for you. If you’re not sure whether it’s necessary, you can always consult on the matter. Do take a longer delivery time (to get back to the first point) as well as additional costs for the extra work into account.

You want to determine for yourself if DTP is needed? Check your images!

Do you want to determine yourself whether DTP is needed? We often receive documents with images containing text. The text is part of the image. This means that not only the text but also the image need to be replaced. The translator and DTP expert will extract the text from the image, translate it and create a new image. Tip; deliver the images without text and include separate captions to ensure the best and most efficient result.

Read more about your translation reviewed by DTP specialists; why, when and more.

6. Take the design and plans into account

Do you plan to have the document translated into several languages? In terms of word count, your translation in the one language will correspond quite well to the original, but if you go from English to Spanish, your text will grow by an average of 15 to 30 percent. If the layout is very cramped and quite impossible to adapt, you’re left holding the baby and an incorrect document to boot. Tip; design an uncomplicated document with a clean layout and sufficient white space to make the text fit.

… And do be aware of dialects and other language variations

Some languages differ greatly by country or region. For example, Chinese consists of two different character sets for writing; simplified and traditional. No need to indicate that it’s important to choose the right language. If you cannot come to a decision, our project managers will let you know which language variant best suits your target group.

7. Work with a style guide

Translate document tips from a translation agency
List your wishes in a style guide with briefing

The translator would like to be aware of your wishes, because only then can they be met. So list all your wishes in a style guide with briefing:
• Describe your desired writing style and tone of voice, that you love word jokes, for example, avoid exclamation marks, always write numbers in full and that your sentences contain a maximum of 30 words.
• Indicate which specific terms you prefer and which you definitely don’t.
• Then add anything you think will be of interest to the translator.

The translator and project manager will always welcome your input, so please don’t hold back.

8. Determine a realistic budget

You will never get a perfect translation for next to nothing. Determine a realistic budget and include all of the above. Ask yourself what is important to you. Each translation agency has its own working method and it’s up to you to determine what feels good for you:
• A highly trained, native translator to translate your text or can it also be someone with no knowledge of the facts?
• Do you value a translator who specialises in your industry, sector and text type or are you daring enough to outsource your medical text to someone with a marketing background?
• Do you think it’s important that your translation is viewed by three pairs of eyes to ensure the very best quality or do you put up with mistakes?
• Are you happy with a translator who not only translates your text but also takes your desired tone of voice into account?
• Do you enjoy working with a translation agency that complies with ISO standards or is it not that important to you that the work is organised in such a way that customer satisfaction is as high as possible?

You must understand; if you aim for the best, your first choice wouldn’t be the cheapest translation agency. You pay more for quality. We understand; if the text isn’t of great importance (think of an internal memo in a company’s cafeteria about the new prices), we can certainly imagine that you prefer the lower price in comparison to the quality.

Tip; as soon as you look at prices and request quotes from different translation agencies, it would be smart to immediately inquire after the agency’s working method. Does it suit you and the perfect translation you have in mind? Are there options of working with good translation software to reduce costs? In the event of multiple translations, can you work with a translation memory and thus save money on your translation?

Choose the best translation agency for your perfect translation

Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose the best translation agency. You determine what your perfect translation is and you now have enough tools to make the right decision.

Would you like to request a quote now and hear more about our working method? Contact us or request a free test translation.