5 Tips for Managing Technical Translation Projects
Technical translation usually involves the translation of technical documents such as manuals and user guides and is a process that requires care and diligence. Close attention to detail is required as the translation has to be accurate and true to the original source. Before starting on your technical translation project though, invest a few hours of your time to prepare for the technical translation project and this will pay off greatly.
Know your text
Be clear about where your text will be read and by whom. Is the document an assembly instruction or an occupational safety brochure for staff in another country? Before translation, prepare a short summary of your technical translation project. This should include the language pairs, approximate number of words, technical field, objective and timeframe.
To influence the final quality of the translation, also give precise information on your target audience, as well as their reading ability. If you have a limited budget, consider reducing the amount of text you need, or selecting only critical sections. For instance, consider summarising complex technical documents or replace long text with infographics.
Choose a reliable translator
As mistakes or incorrect translation can lead to misuse or product malfunction, choose a reliable technical translator who has full understanding of the subject as well as the technical terms used. Technical translators are subject matter experts with years of experience in the field and highly-developed technical writing skills. Some qualified translators may specialise in a certain field, such as engineering, medical or law. These specialists are usually up-to-date with knowledge in the field.
If your technical field is quite specific, ask about the translator’s past experience with similar material. Translators may be able to show you samples of their past work.
Supply reference files
For a seamless translation experience,share background materials or tutorials with your translation team. Aid them with the project by providing access to the application or software where possible. In some cases, organisations go a step further to provide the translation team with product training.
If possible, make a glossary of the main terminology used across the file. To speed up the process, get the glossary translated and approved before starting on the actual translation work. This facilitates the review process and ensures that key terms such as product names and keywordsare agreed upon upfront.
Prepare a localisation kit
A localisation kit is a tool you can provide your technical translator with to clarify expectations and prevent misunderstandings. A localisation kit usually contains files and detailed specifications of a technical translation project, as well as information on cultural and regional differences.
A localisation kit may include the sections related to different parts of the project, as well as documentation and help and web files. It may also include previous translations, as well as your stylistic and technical preferences.
Conduct a quality check
After the translation is completed, you may wish to conduct a linguistic and functional review with the help of a proofreader. This linguistic quality assurance will ensure the accuracy of the translation as it appears in its final context. It also ensures that the text fits the required length and that there are no truncations. For instance, there are no abbreviations in Arabic, hence fitting the translated text into an application may be a challenge. Quality assurance also checks hyperlinks to ensure that there are no broken paths.