As part of any technical project, reports and any other written documentation take a long time to prepare, let alone translate into different languages, if necessary. Technical writers and publishers could make their life a lot easier just by taking some steps in advance, which can help avoid pitfalls and ensure that their technical translation will meet their requirements and expectations.

1. Do your research
You’ve probably done more than enough of this already, but investing a few more hours of your time in the preparation of your translation project will pay off greatly. Start by pulling together some background information which will help the linguists reproduce your text as accurately as possible. Any descriptions/ pictures of your company’s products, website links or other relevant documentation serves as excellent reference materials which will certainly give linguists better insight to the material for translation.

2. Define your target audience
Precise instructions on the target audience of your document can greatly influence the final quality of the translation. Where exactly will your text be read and by whom? Does your report address consumers in Europe, Asia, the United States or Africa? Will your company’s products be sold among teenagers or adults? Consider adjusting the content of your document according to your readers’ needs, but also reflecting on your budget for professional translation. For example, complex technical descriptions can be replaced by graphics, which facilitate better understanding, render your text easier to read and, translation-wise, are often more cost-effective than an elaborate passage.

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3. Define the purpose of your text and find a suitable translation professional
Clarify what the translated text is supposed to accomplish. This is a crucial step and can also help you make the right choice of professional. Is the text associated with your company’s brand or international sales? Then you’ll probably need to rely on a professional translator who specialises in marketing and will adopt the right style of expression in order to promote your business. Do you need to have a complex scientific report translated? It is a good idea to try and find a professional translator who has experience in the subject matter in question. Knowing two languages is not enough to be a translator. Translators are resourceful individuals of multiple skills and specialisations. Qualified translators typically specialise in their fields, continuously update their knowledge, and are skilled writers. If your technical field is quite specific, get in touch with a professional translation agency and ask for a translator with past experience with similar material.

4. Set aside some time for answering questions
Meticulous translators often ask questions and you should expect to hear from them during the translation process. Any feedback you can provide which can render your requirements clearer is an essential contribution and will make the final text more accurate and understandable to the target audience. Take the time to answer questions and complete translation briefs with any specific demands you have for your projects. If your project is on-going or of a large volume of words, it may also be a good idea to ask for a sample file to be delivered in advance so that you can check if the outcome meets your expectations.

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5. Have the translation double-checked
You’ve probably checked the content of your technical document numerous times before publication, and its translation should not be an exception. Ask to have the final text proofread by a second independent linguist, or assign it to an educated native speaker who knows your business / subject matter. This approach helps eliminate small, but embarrassing errors which can cost your technical document its validity and utmost quality.