Tips for translating Manuals best practices

Tips for translating Manuals best practices
8 min read

Tips for translating Manuals best practices

Do you want to make your technical content multilingual? Then you can’t do so without a solid plan. Translating manuals is a difficult service that requires the cooperative effort of your Language Service Provider (LSP) and you. 

Here we will understand technical translation, tips, and steps that should be taken to achieve the best results.

Technical translation in a nutshell

Translating manuals refers to the translation of documents of a technical or scientific nature. It is an extremely particular form of translation that requires the input of equally LSP and specialized linguists. 

Due to its technical specifics and specific terminology usage, consistency, accuracy, and clarity are the top norm for supporting technical manual translation services

Tips for translating Manuals best practices

Any mistake, even the smallest ones, not only leads to imperfect contracts or documents but also compromises your equipment and procedures, making you answerable for any accidents that may occur as an outcome or even legal issues.

Tips for manual translation

Following these writing tips for translating manuals can help you improve the worth of the content with reduced turnaround time, reduced costs, and resulting in better translations. 

  • Use clear, simple phrasing 

When writing for translating manuals, use clear and simple phrasing. Choose words that are simple and short over flowery and longer words. This will help make the translation more precise and reduce the number of words overall.

  • Use the active tense.

Constantly use the active tense each time possible. It’s straighter, so it is stress-free to understand by translators and end users. Reduced difficulty means it’s simple to translate, and with fewer words, it should take less time.

For instance, instead of writing: “The translator understood the content.” (passive)

Say: “The translator understood the content.” (active)

The result is sisimplyontent to translate and understand with a smaller word count.

  • Keep sentences as short as possible.

Keeping sentences tiny may seem clear, but it’s certainly easy as a writer to go on and on about how good a widget is and why you can never do without it because it will alter your life in so many diverse ways that I need to share with you and all you need to do is get one accurate now.

 It’s tough to read all of that short of taking a breath, right? Translating such a huge sentence is also tough, so keep your sentences small. 

Besides, some languages take up additional space than English, and you don’t want to lose space for the translated content. So, make this your motto: The fewer words, the better.

  • Be consistent with content and terminology. 

If you don’t have a list of industry and product terminology, create one for your translators to use before the plan begins. They will interpret these expressions into your target languages, and then in-country assessors will approve them. 

Once that’s done, your technical manual translation services will weigh the terms into its translation memory (TM) device

This device is particularly useful! It will show the translators the precise words for each term in each objective language. Also, reprocess content wherever possible. 

For instance, reclaim that content if a process is already documented in a manual. As an author, it’s appealing to change what now exists to advance it, but it’s ideal to leave it alone. 

Translation Memories are built on word segments, which will influence the cost even if you only change one word. Preferably, you work with content in a content management system (CMS), so you can identify which content to reclaim. 

And even if you don’t practice a CMS, you can still physically reuse the content as your technical manual translation services will probably use a TM tool that can identify the content as formerly translated content. 

Reusing content decreases turnaround time and costs and increases consistency. 

  • Avoid noun strings

A sentence with various nouns in a row can be hard to grasp and read immediately. Translating noun strings can be particularly hard because the association to the nouns isn’t clear. 

As a result, the noun strings can be interpreted wrongly. We commend you for rephrasing noun strings to make the sentence richer. For instance: 

  • She started functioning on the localization mapping software job (noun string). 
  • She started operations on the localization project that includes mapping software. (reworded)
  • Don’t use jargon, abbreviations, and cultural references

Avoid jargon, abbreviations, and cultural references, especially for translating manuals. 

A particular culture or region may agree to this content, but other viewers may not comprehend it, and it can be very hard to translate. Various companies have made errors because they didn’t understand how their choice of words led to offensive translations or wouldn’t translate directly. 

  • Keep text separate from graphics.

Translators need to be able to enter the text inside screenshots and graphics. One way to handle this is to produce different text boxes for such text. 

Another option is to produce callouts below the graphic. In both circumstances, the translator has the right to use the content to interpret it. If text isn’t handy, translating manual companies will require some desktop publishing (DTP) work which will add money and time to the project.

  • Allow room for text to expand.

Translated content can process up to one-third more space than English, so you need to permit enough room for text expansion in labels, callouts, tables, and other constricted areas. 

If you don’t talk about text expansion before distributing the content for translation, you may incur extra DTP charges.

  • Avoid manual formatting

We know it can be attractive to tweak organizing to make things fit and look seamless. But every time you dominate a style, for instance, that means the localization team will have to look at that dominance and decide what to do with it. 

You might want to alter your styles if you have to twist the formatting a lot. 

  • Be aware that data formats may need to change

Currencies, phone numbers, dates, and other data types have diverse formats in other languages. Please ensure these data types are accessible so that the translators can make crucial changes for their languages. For instance, dates are written inversely dependent on where you’re from:

  • In the US, a date is printed with the month, day, and year: 3/5/21(March 5th)
  • In the UK, the day approaches first, so March 5th is written as: 5/3/21

Also, suppose you position any numbers like weight or temperature in majestic units, you need to add the metric corresponding as well since major countries use the metric system. It’s a pretty common practice to add the metric unit after the imperial unit, such as: 100 °F (38 °C)

Wrapping Up 

The need for professional technical manual translation service providers is experiencing a surge in the 21st century as it is one of the most sought-after services after legal translation. Simplicity, clearness, and accuracy are some terms that describe the quality of translating manuals. 

Translating manuals is a challenging industry that holds a complete lot of responsibility. If in-country, native experts provide the translation with particular experience in technical translation, consistency and accuracy can be maintained. 

You can also add to an efficient workflow by being prepared when partnering with an LSP and will need to keep out a strong eye for an LSP that helps with expertise in translating manuals. 

The agency should have linguistic authority, meet tight deadlines, and master the linguistic tools. A professional technical manual translation service provider will deliver qualified translation through native translators with the best translation skills. 

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