Improving Your Source Content for Better Translations

A hand holding a red pen and correcting a draft of source content to be translatedYour marketing team has been working tirelessly on developing catchy and alluring content over the last several months for your imminent global marketing plan. Now, one of the final steps is translating all of that content, perhaps into Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, or even Swahili.

When it comes to translating your marketing content, you expect that your translation partner will be meticulous with their quality control processes. After all, you don’t want to publish translated content full or errors!

However, one of the most often overlooked areas in terms of translation quality is the quality of the source content. You may have a team of editors and proofreaders pouring over the content you create to correct typos, check for poor grammar and readability. With all of that time and effort, your content should be ready to go, right?

Not necessarily!

When it comes to producing quality content that will be translated into any language, making sure it is free of typos and errors is often not enough. There are numerous other considerations when it comes to improving your source content for better translations.

Missing commas, run-on sentences, and too much jargon!

In an ideal world, content creators would have months to prepare their content. Unfortunately, that is often not the case, and content is rushed through production. One of the most frustrating things for translators is to read through poorly written content.

One of the most frequent complaints from translators is that too often; they either have to spend extra time trying to decipher the client’s meaning, sometimes even for something as simple as a misplaced comma or semi-colon. Or, they waste even more time by sending multiple queries to the client through their translation project manager to ask for clarification.

Mistakes like missing commas or run-on sentences can make a translator’s work very difficult. Poor punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence completely, and run-on sentences can cause problems when trying to split it up into smaller, individual sentences in a foreign language.

Also, what may seem simple and straightforward to the author may not be so clear to the readers and translators. Using excessive English idioms, jargon, and slang may not easily translate into another language because many of these kinds of expressions require a cultural context or familiarity to which a foreign audience cannot understand or relate.

For example, in American English, sports jargon is very popular and often finds its way into writing. It can certainly add a special flare to your content (in English), but may not carry over so well into the target language.

Similarly, every organization or business has its own office or industry jargon. Depending on your target audience, including such specialized terminology in your content can be confusing to both the translator and the eventual readers.

What practical steps can you take to improve your content?

Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure your content is optimized for translation. Of course, make sure that you edit and proofread all of your content, just like your translation partner will edit and proofreading their translations.

  1. Use clear, concise language and short, succinct sentences;
  2. While the passive voice has its place, try not to overuse it in your writing;
  3. Double-check your content for redundancies and ambiguous language;
  4. Use consistent terminology (e.g., “backpack” or “knapsack,” not both);
  5. If you use acronyms, be sure to provide the full version in parentheses after the first instance. For example, “NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration)” or “SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus);
  6. Ask your translation partner to review early drafts of your content and provide feedback.

By spending a little extra time on the front end to make sure your content is pristine, you can go a long way toward improving your source content for better translations.

At Affordable Language Services, we are always happy to work with our clients to improve the quality of their source content before translating. Not only that, but we can also work with you to develop glossaries, provide cultural information and recommendations so that your content creators have the necessary context in mind, and more.