Translation costs can be reduced by planning ahead early in the writing process and by keeping translation in mind during authoring and editing phases.
Limit the Volume of Text – Write Less!
Since document translation is charged on a per-word basis, the easiest way to reduce cost is to limit or reduce the number of words. Assuming an average translation cost of $0.20/word and density of 200 words per page, reducing a user guide from 250 pages to 200 pages would reduce translation costs by a total of $10,000 for five languages.
The following strategies can help reduce the number of words in documents:
- Convert narrative explanations to bulleted lists
- Avoid repetitive warnings and steps
- Use direct language
If you have already had content translated, avoid changing it as much as possible. Every modification you make to the source text will make a segment no longer match the translation memory. That means your previous translations will all need to be edited.
For example, if you have a sentence that contains 14 words and has been translated into 20 languages, just adding or removing a comma will cost $36. Probably nothing will need to be done to the translations themselves, since grammar differs in each language, but that segment will be flagged for editing, incurring a charge.
Edit only content that must absolutely be changed, where true errors exist. It may even be helpful to establish a policy that identifies what types of mistakes should be corrected (for example, perhaps only those related to safety or functionality, but not stylistic or minor grammatical issues).
Reuse, Reuse, Reuse
Copying source text between components or from one product to another can be extremely beneficial. Since translations exist in translation memory, they can be reused even when appearing in another place. Instead of writing a new paragraph explaining how to install your new software, copy the one from your previous application and make some minor modifications.
Some companies buy tools to facilitate the reuse of text from a repository. Others just search old documents for keywords and copy relevant sections. If a new product or document is highly similar to one produced previously, it may be helpful to start with the old version and edit it for the new purpose.
White Paper with More Tips
For more tips about optimizing documents for translation, you may be interested in our White Paper on Writing for a Global Audience.