Translation Writing Tips: Reduce Costs and Returns (2023)

Last update: 23.12.2022 09:18

In today's globalized business world, writing is important to translations in all industries. Businesses often want to reach as many markets as possible, not just English-speaking ones. For successContent Translation, companies should consider their source text. The source text serves as the basis for content translated into any other language. As the number of target languages ​​to be translated increases, the impact of the source content also increases. This effect makes planning ahead crucial when writing the text to be translated. To reduce bounce-backs, lower costs, and speed time to market, you should write translation-ready source text andinternational readers. Often these approaches also improve the quality of your writing. Translation-ready writing requires a text that is clearer, more grammatically correct and more efficient. Here are ten essential translation tips for writing your original content.

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#1 Keep sentences short when writing to translate

To improve the speed of the content in the translation process, you should look for sentences that are around 20 words or less. This length prevents the sentence from becoming too complicated or unreadable. A length of 20 words or less also optimizes the content fortranslation machine, one of the most affordable translation services. You can test their simplicity and readability by reading them out loud.

#2 Use standard English phrases whenever possible

By using simple and predictable sentence structures, you avoid errors in your marketing, legal, website or other translations. Content is translated faster and at a lower cost when you use the correct grammar, punctuation, and this structure:

this guideAidmerchants
It's freeguidedrasticAidwith experiencemerchants

You avoid translation errors or questions (which slow down the translation content and increase costs) if your translation is written in a grammatically simple manner and without errors.

#3 Eliminate long noun strings

Noun sequences are generally frowned upon in any type of writing. This is especially true when writing for translations. A number of nouns can be difficult for a translator to understand, which can even be the case for native speakers. When connecting elements are omitted from name strings, readers must infer the relationship between the words. Translators who do not understand a section of your text may have to question or misinterpret your meaning. Sometimes the translator misinterprets noun strings too literally. When translating text into multiple languages, she will experience multiple delays and increase her translation costs. Avoid these problems by identifying and correcting long name strings before the translation process.

#4 Use consistent terminology for concepts

The use of synonyms can be encouraged in other types of writing, but they are problematic when writing to translate. Use a consistent term for the same concept. This tactic will help you avoid mistakes or doubts in the translation process. This also reduces costs and returns. Furthermore, consistent terms increase the use of translation memories. TOtranslation memoryThis is data that a Language Service Provider (LSP) creates and stores when providing translation services. If an LSP can use translation memories, the process is simplified. By using translation memories, your costs and response times are drastically reduced.

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#5 Eliminate jokes, jargon, idioms and metaphors when writing to translate

While this type of writing is fun or entertaining, it also slows down the translation process and often leads to higher costs. These spellings normally do not have an equivalent form from one language to another. They can slow down the translation process because they are translated incorrectly or because the translator stops to ask questions about them.

When a company needs to use humor in their content, a best practice is to work with an LSP for transcreation.transcreation serviceshelp you communicate the same message with the same impact, style, and tonality as your source text. However, LSP will modify the text to adapt it to the cultural and linguistic norms of the target audience. Translated directly, the language can sound very different. However, its effect will be identical to the original text.

Example: "knock it out of the park" means "remarkably successful at something." Because this phrase refers to baseball, it means something to most Americans. In Europe, however, this does not mean much. Translators may be confused by this phrase.

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#6 Be clear when using dates and times

Many countries document dates and times in different formats. Since this information is often important, it is important that the date and time are clearly stated in the source text. Sometimes unclear dates and times lead to problems. People attend meetings or events on the wrong day or at the wrong time. Consider the following tips to avoid confusion:

  • Spell the name of the month or use an abbreviation if space is limited.
  • Add words like "afternoon, morning, or night" if they can help clarify.
  • Provide context to ensure that the translator and the target audience are never in doubt when something is (or did) happening.
  • Create standardized methods for sharing times and dates in your company's style guide.

Example: What does 09/07/2023 mean? In some countries, such as the US, it is September 7, 2023. In some countries, such as Switzerland, it is July 9, 2023. The best way to clearly communicate this date is to spell out the month.

#7 Use relative pronouns like "that" and "which"

These words will make your text clearer and easier for translators to understand. If in doubt, add the pronoun. It is advisable not to assume this. For example:

"The software you are licensed for is about to expire" vs. "The software you are licensed for is about to expire."

The second example provides clarity. The reader knows that "the software in question" is "the one that is licensed".

#8 Choose the active voice instead of the passive when writing to translate

Your text will be easier to translate as you typeactive voice. This method makes your sentences shorter and clearer. Avoid translation errors or confusion on the part of a translator. For example:

"The software has been updated by the user." vs. "The user updated the software."

The second active sentence is shorter and clearer. The translator and the target audience will have no doubts about what happened, who acted or what object was activated.

#9 Eliminate phrasal verbs

Remove the phrasal verbs from the copy you want to translate. Phrasal verbs can make the translation process difficult, as they often have more than one meaning. They are also less desirable because they are less formal. Phrasal verbs are usually two or three word verbs. Here are some examples:

  • Accomplish
  • Responsible of
  • add
  • advise against

#10 Plan for text expansion when writing for translation

You may want to adapt your translated text to an existing layout. It is important to know that texts in English that are translated into other languages ​​usually take up much more space. Sometimes the text is expanded by up to 35%. From the source text to the translation, there may be increases (or in some cases decreases) in some components.

Increases (or decreases) of the translation text include:

  • sentence length
  • word length
  • heel size
  • Full document/full text length

This expansion or contraction of text can cause problems in brochure design, web page design, etc. The copy may not fit well in the space provided. You can plan for this text expansion by working on design changes to accommodate it. You can also shorten the source text to make the translation faster.

Example: The word legal protection insurance companies means "insurance companies that provide legal protection." The Guinness Book of Records calls it the longest German word in everyday use. Imagine how this word fits or doesn't fit into a preconceived layout intended for five medium-sized English words.

Don't forget to provide follow-up resources for translators.

Getting good translations of your text doesn't just depend on what you write. It's also about providing your LSP with all the other necessary resources. They may need more than theme text to meet their needs. Consider implementing:

  • your style guide
  • Reference materials to copy, if any.
  • A glossary of key terms in the text.
  • Translation guidelines, if your organization has any
  • A list of keywords for the SEO value, if applicable
  • Images that you attach to the final translated materials

Make sure your materials are translated faster and more accurately by offering all other available resources. This preparation may take some time, but it will drastically reduce translation time and costs.

Get in touch

Do you need help to reduce your translation costs? Are you trying to reach more global markets? We can help.Contact us todayfor more information on LionbridgeTranslation service.

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Translation Writing Tips: Reduce Costs and Returns (4)


Stephanie Frischknecht

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