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10 Tips to Save Money on Translation

1. Use Plain Language

Generally, the plainer the language you use, the easier it is to translate it. If you wrote your copy, try to examine it to see if you have used any words that can have several interpretations. Try to substitute these words by others that are not ambiguous. An exception to this recommendation would be a sophisticated advertising copy that has a punch line or a pun. However, translation of marketing collateral differs from mainstream translation, and is considered a creative adaptation. This may require considerable time and extra expenses, because translators might need to do a great deal of research in order to find a similar expression in the target language, or to produce an entirely new one.

2. Deliver Your Files Electronically

The easiest method to deliver your files for translation is electronically - via electronic mail or FTP. Surely, it is possible to snail mail or fax a hard copy or even deliver it to a translator personally, and many translators would happily take hard copy for translation, but most of the time translation of these documents can cost you a lot more, considering that the translator might need to format the translated text so it matches the original. If you have to translate and certify your personal documents, the easiest way to deliver them is to scan and send the copy via email. When you fax your documents, anything could go wrong. To name just a few possible glitches - the recipient could be out of paper, the paper could get stuck, the fax could not print foreign characters correctly, the copy could not be readable, especially if you are faxing a copy of another fax. While scanning your document renders a perfect picture that looks just like the original.

3. Use Consistent Terminology

If you write a technical document designed to assist people in using a software product or an appliance, you need to use the terminology consistently throughout all your documents. Repetitive terms exclude any ambiguity and make a translator's task incredibly easier, and your expenses lower. The exception to this rule is fiction or poetry, where the livelier the language you use the more literary value your work could possibly have.

4. Use as Few Writers as Possible

Sometimes companies don't have technical writers on staff, and the writing is done by engineers, managers, coordinators or administrative personnel who have little if any training in writing. Which isn't an issue by itself - many people are perfectly competent at writing with no formal training. The real problem is when you have many people write your documents. People always have different opinions about correct means of conveying a message. So if you use several writers, you most likely realize that everyone has their unique style, their preferred terms, expressions, and so forth. If you have several writers, your documents are bound to be inconsistent, which can result in additional translation expenses, more inconsistency due to the translation, and, finally, to customer frustration. This is particularly important with customer-focused product literature. Technical writing is different from creative writing, where the use of colorful metaphors and juicy expressions is valued.

5. Use as Few Translators as Possible

To translate the same document or related documents, you should employ as few translators as possible for the very same reason - consistency. Like writers, every translator has a different way with words. Even if you were very consistent in your writing, if you assign the task to several translators, there will inevitably be inconsistency, as the translators might use different terms for the very same concept. Certainly, it can be fixed with the aid of one editor and/or proofreader, however, many sneaky errors always are able to crawl into important documents.

6. Send All Relevant Files and Glossaries

If you translate a portion of your documents in-house and outsource others, I cannot stress enough the importance of sending previously translated relevant documents. The translators will use them to ensure your translated document is consistent throughout. Sending any glossaries you could have created will also save them a lot of time and effort on research, clarifications and asking questions.

7. Always Send the Source Files

While it's possible to translate a printed document or a PDF file, if you need a quick, smooth translation you should send the source files. Recreating a document from scratch can be extremely time-consuming, and is a lot more costly. Send files in Indesign, FrameMaker, Quarxpress or whatever program was used to create it. Translators are quite tech savvy!

8. Always Send the Final Version of Your Document

Never translate documents that will be for sure changed or edited later! Going into a document to incorporate last minute changes is very time-consuming, costly and error prone.

9. Be Prepared to Respond To Questions

Be open to questions - translators ask questions because they want to do their best job, not out of mere curiosity. If something seems obvious to you, it could be because you have worked on that document for a long time and you could be unable to see all the information gaps it contains. Don't let the meaning get lost in translation!

10. Send Written Instructions

Unless you have dealt with this particular translator or company before, you should always jot down your instructions and any relevant information and background of the document. Translators might make their best guess as to what you might need, but that may very well be a wrong one.

Aunes Oversettelser AS
has been in the business for 26 years, and we are specialized in technical translations. We are specializing in the Nordic languages, and can offer services into Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Icelandic. The premier translation agency for Norway and the Nordic region! Technical translation services for businesses in the Nordic countries and translation agencies world wide.

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