5 Tips for translating manuals

5 Tips for translating manuals

Translating manuals can be tricky business - after all, you have to balance the translation of technical language while keeping the meaning clear and easy to follow. Generally, it helps if the translator doing the work has some foundational knowledge of the area or topic of the manual they’re translating. This way they can understand any specialist vocabulary used and translate it more effectively.

Chapter 1

5 Tips for translating manuals

1)    Keep it simple


Of course, manuals aren’t renowned for being great, thrilling reads - but good translators will resist the urge to change the tone of the original manual. After all, manuals have a very clear purpose - they’re not there to entertain but to instruct. You can compare technical translation services at PickWriters.com to find professional translators who will focus first and foremost on making sure translated technical language is clear and consistent.


2)    Use a glossary


Yes, manuals can come with a whole host of technical words, but there shouldn’t be an overwhelming amount as manuals focus on just one topic. For this reason, it’s best practice for good translators to create a glossary with keywords and terms which crop up a lot so that they can keep the wording consistent throughout the translated manual (and avoid any confusion which might crop up if varying terms are used throughout the manual).


3)    Look at similar resources


Manuals rarely exist in isolation and there are bound to be other materials related to the manual being translated. That’s why it’s a sensible idea for clients to provide related materials that are on the same topic. This is an especially good idea if a technical translation firm is working on more than one manual for the same company. This way the translator can get familiar with the processes, tone, and terminology used throughout the company’s materials.


4)    Be aware of the length


By necessity, manuals can be quite long - that’s understandable as they often have to explain complicated processes in a lot of detail. Remember that text can become longer when translated into other languages, especially when being translated into Romance languages such as Italian, Spanish, or French. That’s why establishing a wordcount upfront is essential, and providing a format that can be adapted if text expands to take up more room than in the original language.


5)    Get honest feedback


The best way to test the quality of a translated document is to get feedback from people who are native speakers of the target language. Where possible, getting such feedback or proofing prior to publishing will enable the translator to iron out any small glitches or errors so that the finished manual is perfect by the time it is published and officially released.


The translation of manuals has to be handled with care and accuracy so that instructions remain clear and keywords are consistent. Using these five tips as guidance will ensure that any and every manual translation reaches the high standard required for use in different languages. 

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