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Technical Writing Tip:
How to prepare for translation

In our global and multicultural economy, it is important that we prepare documentation so that it is easy to translate. Here are a few dos and don'ts.


  • Write clearly and consistently. A manual that is easy to read and use is also one that is easy to translate.
  • Choose a quality translation service with extensive experience.
  • Develop a glossary of standard terms with the translator. This ensures that terms are translated consistently and follow industry standards.
  • Use native-language reviewers in the countries where the manuals are to be used. These reviewers should be familiar with the terminology, cultural issues, and regulatory requirements of that country.
  • Document ways to customize the product for use in different countries, such as changing the date format or currency symbol.
  • Research cultural standards and taboos for different countries. For example, colors have different meanings in different countries.


  • Start translation until you finish the original text. Making changes during translation adds to the cost and increases the risk of error.
  • Use colloquialisms, idioms, slang, and cultural references that are difficult to translate into other languages.
  • Use words, symbols, or terminology that might offend people in other countries.
  • Accept transactions until you do a check of them yourself. Even if you do not know the language, you can still check for errors in format, check print quality, and by checking the number of heading and paragraphs, whether the translation matches the original language manual.
  • Rush translation schedules or skimp or translation quality. Poor translations have caused companies to lose revenues and face considerable embarrassment.

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