SimulTrans Localization Blog: SimulTips

Quick Tips for Creating Translation-Ready Content

[fa icon="calendar"] August 27, 2014 / by the SimulTrans Team

In today’s increasingly connected business world, more and more companies find themselves pressed to increase their global footprints. To effectively reach an international audience, companies must speak to each locale in a way they understand.

Look at McDonald's for example. The fast-food chain is found in 119 countries throughout the world. Each location changes its menu and product offerings to match the country in which it resides. To relate to their Australian audience, Australian McDonalds locations have added Vegemite to their menus. Taking a trip to India? Hindus believe that killing cows and eating beef are against their religious rules. Therefore, you’ll find the McVeggie at your local India McDonalds.

So, you’re probably asking yourself, “What does this have to do with translation?” McDonalds represents a company that adapts and speaks to each audience in a way they can understand. Adapting your approach, your offerings, or even your content to your target international audience is one of the easiest ways to increase your brand’s footprint in the international market.

When setting out to translate your content, the following tips can help you reduce the costs associated with translation by shortening the time it takes for the translation to occur.

Research, Research, Research
Before setting out to create content, think about what countries you anticipate your content to reach. Put yourself in the position of someone in that culture. Pretend you are someone reading your content. You want to ensure what you are writing about isn’t offensive, or isn’t a topic that wouldn’t be understood in the respective culture. This is where working with a localization partner helps. Your localization partner should have an understanding of the cultures for which they translate.

Keep it Simple
We often take for granted our knowledge of our own language. When you create content that you intend to have translated, write as if you are talking to someone just learning English. Therefore, avoid run on sentences. Try to stick to one thought per sentence. Stay away from slang that only we would know (e.g. raining cats and dogs, sweating buckets, etc.). If you must use marketing or technical buzz, be sure to define what it means for the translator so he/she can translate it in a way that will be meaningful for the target audience. Finally, international audiences don’t necessarily understand passive voice. Be sure to keep your writing in active voice. As a tip, if you can end a sentence with by my grandma, it is passive voice (e.g. The house was built ‘by my grandma’).

Technology Tips
800 numbers do not work outside of North America. Keep this in mind if you are translating for outside of the US, Mexico, or Canada. You will want your target audience to have a means of contacting you if they want.

Think About Your Layout
In the US, a 10 point font is perfectly acceptable for a brochure. However, when translated, generally the result will be 25% longer than the submission. Thus, when creating your content, remember that just because it fits into two-pages in English, does not necessarily mean it will fit the same size once it’s been translated. Be flexible with your layout. Chances are you will have to adjust it once you get your translated content back.

Think About Your Color Choices
Not all color is created equal. The chart below shares what different colors mean to different cultures (source).



China - symbol of celebration and luck


Asia - sacred, imperial


Middle East - strength and safety

A safe color for most cultures


Europe - royalty and death

In other parts of the world, purple can have very negative connotations


Japan - symbolizes death


India - the color of mourning


In tropical countries - symbolizes danger

India - color of Islam

Topics: Documentation Translation, Marketing Translation

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.