SimulTrans Localization Blog: SimulTips

Best Practices for In-Country Review

[fa icon="calendar"] May 27, 2013 / by the SimulTrans Team

Of the many options available to review translated documents, it is often difficult deciding which method to implement. This article helps shed light on many industry practices.


There are many different ways for translation and localization vendors to incorporate comments from in-country reviewers. It is important for localizers to give these reviewers a voice in order to ensure accuracy and build client confidence in the final deliverables.

The in-country reviewers need to thoroughly understand the expectations of the localization vendor, not only in terms of how to enter the comments, but also how the localizers will receive the reviews and how the localizers will track and implement the changes.

Localizers should try to build confidence with the reviewer and establish a healthy working relationship from the start of the project and encourage correspondence between the translation team and the reviewer.

Additionally, it is important to write explicit work instructions before beginning the translation process, with guidelines for:

  • how to review the documentation
  • project and product history
  • review deadlines
  • how to return the documentation
  • glossaries used during the project
  • style guides followed
  • any other instructions received

Reviewers need to understand that their role is to review from a technical standpoint, not to retranslate the documentation. The most important aspect of working with in-country reviewers is finding the best review method. There are several different options available for clients to choose from and this article will look at a few of them, suggested by SimulTrans experts.

Adobe Acrobat PDF

The most preferred in-country review method for project managers is to have reviewers evaluate files using PDF. The advantage of this method is that it is easy for reviewers to insert their comments directly into PDF files themselves. The files are print-ready and easy to manage for almost anyone.

Adobe Acrobat allows comments to be added in several ways, for instance as "sticky notes "directly in the files. However, if reviewers choose to comment using the sticky notes, often it can make the changes difficult to track and understand by the translator or publisher.

An alternate way of tracking changes in PDF is by making the changes directly to the text by highlighting the text in question, right-clicking, and then choosing the appropriate action (such as "Replace Text"). The text can then be replaced and is noted clearly in the copy. This replacement text then shows up in the comments list in a way that can easily be inserted into the translated version.

The disadvantage of annotating PDF in this manner is that the changes to the copy are not incorporated in the translation memory. This means the translators have to go back to the original source file (which could be in MSWord, FrameMaker, etc.) and update these files in the translation memory. Further, a translator might have to spend some time on making comments in the PDF for the publisher to be able to update the formatted files. Also, PDF versions cannot track color changes in fonts, which may complicate some of the review process unless explicitly noted.

PDFs are useful when it is important to provide the reviewers with a print-ready version of the files. However, as seen above, commenting can be difficult unless the reviewer can use Adobe Acrobat's Note feature.


WorldServer is one of the industry's leading globalization management system (GMS). This tool enables large global enterprises, small to medium-size businesses and Language Services Providers (LSPs) to simplify and accelerate their translation and localization processes for any content, from websites to paper-based documents and software applications.

If agreed at the beginning of the project between the client and the localizer that this tool will be used for the project life cycle, then at the review stage localizers can enable reviewers to review the translations directly in WorldServer. The reviewers would simply be given a login and password and use a browser interface to directly change and/or comment on the translated text. These changes could then be accepted by the translator and the translation memory would be automatically updated.

WorldServer works well with most file formats, especially with InDesign files, which can be saved as INX and imported in that format, retaining formatting.

Translation Memory-Mediated Review

Having reviewers work directly with the translation memory (TM) database is more difficult to implement than some of the other options. The disadvantage is that using TM requires significant training of the reviewers. However, clients might want to consider it if they are working extensively with the same reviewers, as it can be more efficient in the long run, saving time and money.

Microsoft Excel

Another popular tool for aiding the in-country review process is Excel. There are several advantages to working with Excel, for example, the program is widely used and reviewers will most likely be familiar with how to use it. Also, Excel has a "Track Changes" feature that allows reviewers to easily annotate the document. Color changes in the font are also easily recorded, saving reviewers time spent explaining color changes in the text.

One disadvantage to working with Excel is that, depending on the authoring tool, Excel will not always provide an accurate, print-ready representation of the translated document. Additionally, global changes need to be noted each time the word appears. Generally, reviewers and translators do not like use Excel, but it makes the process of publishing the actual text much easier.


One method that is perhaps less conventional than the others but still effective is the use a database in which all issues are reported as if they were bugs (errors in translation). This way the reviewer and the localizer can track the changes implemented. The disadvantage is that every bug report needs to be clear and precise; otherwise it will create a lot of back and forth communication between localizer and reviewer for clarification.

Independent review form

One method that works well specifically for sample projects or for clarification of projects that have already undergone translation is the independent review form. Localizers send out this separate form with the files and ask the reviewers to fill it out while doing the review. The advantage is that this form is a less technical way for reviewers to include comments on different categories such as grammatical errors, etc. The disadvantage is that it requires precise description of word locations in order to be useful to a translator.

General notes

  • Simplify the process by deciding beforehand on one uniform method of reviewing for all files in one project.
  • Notify your in-country reviewers of the project timelines.
  • Ensure all your in-country reviewers will have the time to review.
  • Ensure all your in-country reviewers have the necessary tools and the right versions.
  • Choose one reviewer per language / product if at all possible.
  • The same idea can be communicated in different ways but still retain the original value. Changing the document based on personal preference of a specific reviewer can waste, time, money and resources.


While there are many different ways to approach effective management of the in-country review process, the client must decide what aspects of the review are most critical to the translation.

If formatting is important, WorldServer or Adobe Acrobat may be the best option. If reviewer notes are highly complex, color-coded, or otherwise hard to track, an Excel spreadsheet would be a useful option. If the reviewer has a highly technical understanding of Translation Memory, the localizer can leverage that knowledge to let the reviewer edit directly into the TM system.

No matter what method the client selects, it is important to communicate expectations to the reviewer from the outset of the project.

Topics: Translation Services

the SimulTrans Team

Written by the SimulTrans Team

SimulTrans provides software, document, and website localization services, translating text into over 100 languages. Established in 1984, SimulTrans has enabled thousands of businesses to provide high-quality content to their international customers. Management ownership allows an exclusive focus on customers and quality, as exemplified by ISO 9001 and ISO 17100 certifications. In addition to its headquarters in Mountain View, California, SimulTrans has offices in Boston, Dublin, London, Paris, Bonn, and Tokyo.