Document translation is the creation of locale-specific versions of documentation for users in other countries.
The following types of documents are typically translated for international users:
Writing for a global audience is a distinct challenge that can vex even the best in the field. Doing it successfully requires different skills than normal writing. Seemingly innocuous sentences can pose major challenges for international readers, so if a writer needs to make sure that their words can be understood by many diverse groups of people, he or she cannot simply write as they normally would.
Writing global content that is well-suited for international publication and therefore translation requires a good grasp of the subtleties of language in terms of cultural context, word choice, and construction.
Translation costs can be reduced by planning ahead early in the writing process and by keeping translation in mind during authoring and editing phases.
Since translation is charged on a per-word basis, the easiest way to reduce cost is to limit or reduce the number of words.
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.
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.
PDFs are one of the most popular and convenient ways to disseminate information in the increasingly digital world. They can be opened in practically any desktop or mobile environment, and support almost all modern languages.
However, PDFs are typically generated by desktop publishing applications like InDesign or FrameMaker, or are the from Content Management Systems.
Providing the full set of source files, created from your publishing software application will allow your translation provider to accurately calculate the scope of work, detect any potential issues with the files (like translation-unfriendly formatting or missing graphics), format the translated versions to match the original source layout, and begin to build translation memory that will facilitate updates.
Pretty much all authoring tools will work well for translation. There was once a time when applications like FrameMaker and InDesign did not accommodate all international languages, but now they offer relatively ubiquitous support for international character sets.
In terms of reducing costs, tagged formats like DITA/XML and HTML tend to be less expensive for translation. Writers typically create these with structured authoring tools and content management systems. The documents do not require manual formatting; outputs for each language into the desired formats can be generated automatically using configured style sheets.
Ideally it is beneficial to avoid putting text into graphics, reserving these callouts as separate elements or with a legend in a table.
If more traditional graphics are used, such as those created in Illustrator, Photoshop, or Visio, it is helpful to retain layered files with the text to be translated in a separate layer.
We usually recommend writing less, editing less, and using a tagged format (as described above). Read our blog article on Reducing Documentation Translation Costs for more details and additional advice.
Translation costs vary by language, typically corresponding to the cost of living in the target countries. For example, translation into Simplified Chinese is about a third of the cost of translation into Swedish.
You should expect to receive discounts based on repeated text and leveraging from the translation memory (in essence you only need to pay to translate content once, not again and again for each update).
To try to calculate a rough total budget, including formatting and other related services, we usually recommend the following formula:
Cost = Number of Languages × Number of Words ÷ 2
Translators usually translate about 2,000 words per day. You can generally accommodate almost any required schedule by adding more translators, but this also reduces consistency. SimulTrans has some projects with over 100 translators per language working simultaneously to translate millions of words in a matter of days.
If you are not in a huge rush, we usually recommend limiting your translation team to three translators and two reviewers per language. A group of this size would complete about 6,000 words per day. Since the translators for all languages work simultaneously the number of languages does not have an impact on the schedule.
Aside from translation, there are usually a couple days for set-up and some time required for formatting and final quality assurance at the end of the project.
The technical communication translation team at SimulTrans is an elite group of approved translators. Technical translators have specialized backgrounds and writing styles, able to address the unique linguistic requirements of their assignments.
They are native speakers, working in the countries of their target languages, with an average of seven years professional translation experience. SimulTrans selects linguists and reviewers for each project based on their understanding and experience with various subject fields.
Multilingual publishing represents a significant component of most translation projects. SimulTrans’ worldwide production team offers capabilities in documentation analysis and translation kit preparation, creation of screen captures, and output generation of final language documentation.
Every day, SimulTrans’ production team works with a wide range of communication media, including manuals, online documentation, brochures, websites, and training materials. They are masters of all common publishing applications, most commonly working with tools such as FrameMaker and InDesign.
SimulTrans works extensively with files from content management systems, such as Author-it and Xyleme. In addition to providing fully localized XML files with tags protected, SimulTrans helps companies adapt CMS style sheets and DTDs to generate content that is properly formatted when output in the target languages.
Having earned ISO 9001 and ISO 17100 certifications, SimulTrans’ promise of consistency and integrity of work is backed by third-party certifying agencies and can further confirm our long-term commitment to quality.
ISO 9001 certification is a set of quality standards that can be applied to many industries. This certification allows our customers to meet their own certification requirements by providing an assurance to notified bodies and regulatory agencies that translations are completed according to a documented and quality-oriented process. This is especially prudent in the medical industry.
ISO 17100 certification is based on the EN 15038 certification that was designed exclusively for the translation industry by the European Committee for Standardization. This certification aims to standardize terminology, define basic requirements for services, and create a framework for interaction between customers and services providers.
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