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Placing an order for a service you may not be familiar with can be daunting. If you give incomplete information, it can take time until your language service provider (LSP) have everything they need and can complete your request to your satisfaction.
To make the translation process less time-consuming and easier for everyone, we were motivated to write this article and compile a handy little infographic that you can use any time you wish to place an order – ensuring your peace of mind and saving time, to boot!
The ‘Holy Trinity’ of translation
Every translation order should contain three essential components, which can be easily identified by answering these basic questions:
1) What will be translated? This is your document(s) for translation.
2) How it will be translated? This is the languages your document is translated from and to.
3) When do you need the translation? This is your deadline.
Let us discuss each of the three questions in greater detail.
What: documents for translation
- Send the final version: You may be tempted to send an unfinished version of your document to translation to save time and then ask your LSP to update it once you have the final one. We strongly advise against it. Having a final document ready will ensure that the translator knows exactly what they have to do and can prepare a good translation without misunderstandings. Definitely avoid sending different working versions every time you change something – you may be heading for a communication (and, almost certainly, translation) disaster. Also make sure that the document you send is free of any tracked changes, comments, or other unfinished edits.
- Send an editable format (if possible): To ensure speed and consistency when translating your texts, most LSPs use specialised tools (known as CAT tools) that require editable text formats. These are typically MS Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, Adobe InDesign, and some specific formats, such as SRT (for subtitles), CSV, or JSON (used in web development). If you send the document in a format that is not editable (e.g. PDF or an image scan), your LSP will likely have to convert it. In such cases, give instructions on how you wish to receive the translation: do you need just the text without formatting or design or do you want a fully formatted document, ready for public use? If your document also contains images with text (e.g. charts, graphs, or other items that contain non-editable text, even within a text document), give clear instructions on how you wish the LSP to proceed. Do you need the images translated? If so, how? Should the LSP retain your original image’s design or should they add the translations below the image without altering it? Be specific.
- Express your design wishes clearly: if your document is rich in graphics and has a complex design, let your LSP know if you require just the translation or a full design service. Most LSPs will offer this service for an additional fee. If your document is only available in a non-editable format (e.g. PDF), the LSP will have to recreate its design, which may result in slight discrepancies. If you have access to an Adobe InDesign document, make sure to include all elements the designer needs (e.g. fonts and graphics).
How: Language combination(s)
Always include information on the language(s) for translation. Even though your LSP will likely be able to identify the source language of your document is written in, do not forget to give clear instructions or mention any particularities. For example, if your document is composed in more than one language, specify which language you wish to translate from (this may affect the cost) or if it contains different texts in more than one language, let your LSP know if you wish all languages translated or just one (and, of course, which one). If necessary, also specify the preferred variant of the target language (US or UK English, European or Brazilian Portuguese, European or Canadian French, etc.) that you want the document translated into.
Try to be as specific as possible if you have a deadline in mind. If you say ‘as soon as possible’, as your LSP will not be able to deduce whether you mean a few hours, a day, two days, or a week. Give them a time and a date and they will let you know if your request is feasible. You can also propose two deadlines: an ideal one for you and the absolutely final one – this will give your LSP a general idea of the time constraints at your end. Conversely, if you are not in a hurry at all, you may ask your LSP to give you an estimated timeline based on their availability and scope of the text. If you have a hard time deducing how long a translation may take, a rough daily output is 2,000 words per day for translation and about 6,000 words for proofreading. This estimate may vary depending on the language combination, difficulty of the text, and several other factors.
The information below is no less vital for a translator or LSP to be able to provide a quality translation. If at all possible, give them the following:
This is a word translators love more than any other – context is key to a good translation, as it ensures that the correct wording, style, and terminology will be used, and the translation fully localised. Give as much information as possible on anything relevant, including the following: who is the target reader, what is the purpose of the document, where will it be used/published, what will be its final format (e.g. webpage, brochure, invitation, article, etc.)?
Any reference documents may be of great help to your LSP. These include but are not limited to: past translations of similar documents, company style guides, glossaries or term bases, and companion pieces to the text that is being translated. Long-term collaboration with an LSP is highly beneficial in this regard, as they will keep a record of your (terminological) preferences and be familiar with your tone of voice, saving you from having to attach the same guidelines with every order.
Give the LSP contact details of the people that can help answer any questions. This may be yourself or your colleagues from the departments that compiled the original documents. Your responsiveness will ensure that the translation process runs smoothly.
This applies after the translation is completed. Share any changes you may have made to the translated document with your LSP, so that they can note your preferences for future orders. It is important to express your (dis)satisfaction, so that the translator may meet your expectations next time, or if everything was perfect, why not make their day with a few kind words!
Hopefully we managed to condense as much information as possible to help you prepare a translation order that will save you time, give you peace of mind, and guarantee a quality result. To help you stay on top of everything, we prepared a handy infographic you can print out or save to your computer for easy access.
What if you wish to order specific types of translation? We have you covered! See our previously published articles on certified translations, subtitling, interpreting, UI translation, transcreation, as well as proofreading and revision and different service combinations.
Now that you have mastered the art of ordering all kinds of translations, why not contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what we can do for you!