If you’ve put a lot of energy and love into launching your product, you also want everyone to know how to get the best out of it. You wrote a nice manual — albeit in your own language. Now you want to travel all over the world with your product and have your instruction manual translated. Thanks to this checklist the translation of your instruction manual will be one of the smoothest processes ever.

Establish a good time schedule

Translation agencies that put quality first, base the work to be done on a maximum number of words per day. This maximum depends on, among other things, the difficulty level of your text. A very difficult text takes longer, which results in fewer words per day. Good work takes time.

Start all preparations on time and make sure to involve everyone you need to deliver the text to be translated.

Allow for extra time if your document needs formatting (DTP)

Manual guide or manual translation - translation agency for the translation of instruction manuals and user instructions
Good translation agencies have a DTP team that will assess your document without obligation.

Does the translation of your instruction manual require additional editing or formatting? Be sure to include it in your planning.

Do you find it difficult to determine whether your document needs to be reviewed by the DTP specialists? Good translation agencies have an in-house DTP team that will assess your document without obligation. DTP is always a matter of customisation. Sometimes you expect an adjustment and then it doesn’t appear to be necessary at all. And sometimes it’s the other way around. Do you have a desktop publishing expert on your payroll? You’d have the option of doing all the adjustments in-house and only outsource the textual translation.

It’s important to mull this over as it may look a bit awkward if you’re referring to tables or images that have not been translated.

Reading tip → Your translation reviewed by DTP specialists; why, when and more

Use examples if you have them

Have you had translations done before or maybe even started a translation memory somewhere? This could be quite useful for the translator working on your user manual. It will ensure a consistent terminology and the translation itself will take less time — which can often “translate” into a better rate for your technical translations.

Take local laws and regulations into account

In every country it’s important to adhere to the laws and regulations. It would be smart to find out whether you meet local obligations.

What is customary here may be banned in another country. And this not only applies to (technical) translations, but also to your product. Does it comply with local laws and regulations? Have someone knowledgeable look at your product(s) and document(s). This check is invaluable — especially if it prevents hefty fines or major fiascos.

Provide a good briefing

You have your own tone of voice that you wish to pursue abroad. This can be done with a good translator and a good briefing. In addition to all your wishes, the briefing should include:
• Your target audience.
• Your writing style and correct tone of voice.
• Which words you don’t want translated.
• Specific terms that you want to use.
• Terms that must not appear in your translation.

Find the right technical translation agency

You decide how important quality is to you and what you think is good, and we’re happy to help you get started by sharing a number of guidelines that will make it easier to recognise a renowned (technical) translation agency.

Native translators

Do you want good translations with nuances that are completely tailored to the reader? Choose a translation agency that uses native translators. These are professionals who translate from your language into their native language.

Specialist translators

A translator who knows everything about marketing can be a great translator — but not so much for your technical job. Translating a manual is very different from converting a brochure into another language. Only when the work is done by someone with experience in your industry or sector, who knows exactly what it’s all about and who doesn’t hesitate for a second about industry-specific terms, will you know for sure that your instruction manual is translated well.

Good quality control

Translating is the work of people and that means that sometimes a manual could contain a mistake. So do check what quality control system the translation agency applies. Loads of translation agencies do not apply the 3-pairs-of-eyes principle which would be to the benefit of the overall quality. Is your translation worked on by a translator, a second translator (the reviewer) and your project manager? If so, the quality will be good.

Use of translation software

Translation software (no, not Google Translate) helps to ensure the quality of your translation. Translation software will enable a translation agency to create a translation memory at your request — just for you. The translation memory remembers previously translated words and sentences, allowing the translator to work faster and more efficiently. Advantages; consistency, reliability, accuracy and a better rate.

Fixed point of contact

Do you find it important to have a fixed and personal point of contact? Check whether your translation agency will assign you a personal project manager. In that case your contact will always be someone who’s aware of your requirements and preferences, who will monitor your deadlines and that any problems will have been intercepted as they arise.

Request a quote or test translation

All set? Then you’re ready to have your manual translated. If you need more information, don’t hesitate to contact us. Would you rather receive a quote within 2 hours or try a test translation first? Everything is possible.