A few of PLG’s translation project coordinators came together and compiled a few guidelines for better managing larger-scale projects that involve multiple languages. While some of these guidelines are specific to label translation, many can be generally applied to any type of translation work.
As the client, you can refer to these guidelines when evaluating projects with any translation agency.
Source picture: Alto Paraíso de Goiás, Brazil. Jean Carneiro.
1. Clear and concise communication is a great start. During the initial request (whether by e-mail/phone/fax/etc), clients should identify a project name or job number, delivery date and all the languages to be translated or typeset. Any additional requirements should be requested early on in the job phase. Having all the necessary information at the outset can set the project into motion more quickly and the translation agency’s project managers are able to handle the job much more efficiently.
2. Clarify all conversions and local settings. You may need to convert dimensions from U.S. standard to metric. Make sure you and your translation agency understand this. Also, your U.S. toll free number may not work abroad. Provide alternate information to your translation agency if necessary.
3. Specify a language dialect if necessary. Are your French labels going to be read by customers in Quebec rather than France? Or is your target market Taiwan rather than mainland China? Then you may want to indicate this to the translation agency. A good translation agency will assign a native speaker of the target language/country to the project so that your translations will not only be correct, but also culturally authentic.
4. Educate the translation agency about your products. You may want to provide other materials, including brochures/flyers, instruction manuals, previous translations and even videos to educate the translation agency about your products and services. With more context, translators are able to produce higher-quality, more specific translations.
5. Provide a glossary if you have one. Glossaries are beneficial when terms are particularly unique to your industry and you want to ensure that the translations are consistent within your own company or industry. If you have translated your labels before, your previous translator may have created a glossary of the most commonly translated terms that appear in your packaging. If not, you can request this from your translator/translation agency.
6. Choose a translation agency that utilizes translation memory (T.M.) There are times that a translation agency will use a different translator to translate your labels. This is fine, as translators are often working on a few projects at once and may not be available. If this case arises, a good translation agency will provide a translation memory file to the newly assigned translator working on your project. This ensures that you receive consistent translations every time.
7. Allow extra time if possible. Be wary of translation agencies that promise a quick delivery that would normally take longer, as a good translation agency will communicate to you if the deadline is not able to be met. A proficient translator takes time to research and proofread in order to avoid careless mistakes and produce quality translations. Some translation agencies may offer an expedited delivery, but do not choose this option if you don't necessarily have to. Prepare in advance to avoid rush projects.
8. Take advantage of in-house typesetting/DTP layout services. Placing language in an artwork file can be problematic if the person doing the layout is not familiar with the language or software. This is especially true with languages that use non-Latin characters. It may be easy to find a good language professional or a good typesetter, but it is rare to find someone who is proficient at both. A good translation agency often has staff that is familiar with both the language and the compatible desktop publishing software.
9. Be clear on the delivery time and method. If you followed the first step of effective communication, then delivery of your project will be a breeze. Perhaps you had instructed the translation agency to upload the final project to your FTP server by a certain date or time or maybe you need the finished project mailed to you on a CD-ROM. Provide this information early in order to avoid delays and a last-minute delivery.
We hope that you are able to apply these tips to your next label translation project.
Precision Language and Graphics is a multilingual translation agency that specializes in packaging translation. For more information about our label/packaging translation services, please visit http://plg-online.com/label_translation.html