Getting Ready for Translation: Glossary and Style Guide

Are you looking to translate and localize your content? Then you should prepare a glossary and style guide prior to starting your first project. This will help you keep consistency and accuracy across your translations.

The style guide will explain your brand’s tone of voice, style, grammar, and any other aspects that you think are worth considering to approach your audience. As every language is different, you can create one style guide for each language.

What does a style guide look like? Well, they come in many sizes and shapes.

Some companies initially build a small group of instructions (“please keep the text informal and young, always convert all measures to the metric system and keep the dates as the English”).

Others gather instructions from authorized sources and build a long detailed document including how to proceed with tag lines, capitalization, names, numbers, dates, et cetera.

One key element of the style guide is the way you wish to address your international audience:

  • Should they use a formal/informal form of address (this is critical in many languages such as French, Spanish, etc.)?
  • Should they be friendly or professional?
  • Should they stay away from technical jargon?

Another tool that will prove to be invaluable over time is a glossary. It can be built before you start localizing your material, or after you had some translations done. The sooner, the better, though, to avoid inconsistencies. We’ll ask you to send us as much of your content as possible, which we will use to extract a list of key terms (terms frequently used by your writers). Our team will then “clean up” that list, to ensure that only those terms that make sense to you will be there. After that, you’ll have the chance to check the list and confirm if you’d like any term to be added or removed.

Once this is done, our professional translators, usually domain experts, will translate it to the best of their ability, and you will have a chance to validate it through your in-country reviewers (your global marketing team, international resellers, clients, etc.).

What does a glossary look like? The more basic ones are a simple table with source terms on one column and their translation in the next one.  They can grow from there, including usage examples, lists of names, blacklists for terms that you do not want translated, such as product names, terms you don’t want to be used, explanation of terms that are company specific, etc.  Most importantly, the translated glossary will be validated by your team, those who have the best knowledge of your product.

If you follow these best practices, linguists will have a good sense of your brand and will be able to refer to glossary with validated translations as the best way to ensure accuracy.