Get a good technical translation?

How Can I Get A Good Technical Translation?

Your company, research institute or foundation needs a technical translation, only you don’t know much about the translation industry. However, you want to get an accurate technical translation. You naturally want quality work from start to finish.

In order to clear things up, in this blog post Cultures Connection goes around the subject with coherent explanations. We also list some precautions to take and the mistakes or pitfalls to avoid. Last but not least, read in this article the decisive factors to help you select a translation company.

  • What do I need to know about technical translation?
  • What tips should I follow to get quality technical translations?
  • How do I select a technical translation company?

What do I need to know about technical translation?

There are as many different types of technical translations as there are industries! Does your company specialize in the energy sector? IT and software? In the food industry? Or in the automotive industry? Does your school or university put courses and webinars on its website or does it publish articles in the environmental field? In electronics? Or health? Then you need to translate documents if you do business internationally. Or if you are prospecting for business in one or more countries.

Let’s start with some examples of technical documents that oftentimes need to be translated:

  • Instructions for use, user manuals, user guides;
  • Technical manuals:
  • Patents;
  • Training manuals;
  • Technical specifications;
  • Statistical tables, budgets, audits;
  • Research papers and status reports;
  • Medical prescriptions, medical reports, drug and medical device instructions;
  • Advertisements for professionals or the general public.

The list is long, therefore it is important to keep in mind that a translation company can translate all the documents you need. Experience and professionalism make all the difference!

This is why there are several key points to think about. We list here the traps to avoid as well as advice to follow:

  • Avoid the literal translation trap, meaning don’t trust machine translation;
  • Beware of misunderstandings or approximate content when you have documents translated by translators with little or no technical knowledge;
  • Make sure the text is understandable by your target audience, whether it is a specialist audience or the general public;
  • Have graphics translated: tables, diagrams, plans, maps, timelines, flowcharts;
  • Consider SEO translation if the technical text is intended for publication online, in order to optimize the content with the best keywords.

What tips should I follow to get quality technical translations?

  • A sound knowledge of technical fields. The expertise of the project manager or any other team member is essential. This experience acquired over the years through business with companies in a variety of industries does make all the difference. It means that the project manager understands the client’s expectations and requirements, as well as the challenges of technical projects.
  • A large network of good technical translators. High-level recruitment process is required, with a dual skill set needed for each translator. Indeed, it is essential to have a thorough knowledge of the technical field and great linguistic skills too. This is why the career path of technical translators often consists of a first part of their career in a company or a laboratory –such as in the health industry or in the engineering field– and then a second part in the translation sector.
  • An optimal translation process. Such a process includes a first translator translating the content, and then a second translator revising and improving the first translator’s translation.
  • Quality control. Someone in charge of quality control checks that there are no omissions, that the language is correct -spelling, grammar, and punctuation- and that the layout is faithful to the original document. They also check that all the client’s instructions have been correctly respected. Quality assurance software provides an additional verification step.

How do I select a technical translation company?

Are you looking for advice on how to select a translation company that will deliver quality technical translations? What are the best tips for selecting a technical translation company? Read our tips below:

  • Ask LSP’s for client references. Here’s a good tip for making your choice: ask each translation company you contact for a list of references from their clients in the technical field. Ask especially for references about clients who operate in the same industry as yours. Even better, if your translation project is large, ask the contact information of these clients. Provided you have the time to do so, you can send an email or call a contact –or several contacts– provided by the LSP.
  • Ask for examples of technical translations. There’s nothing like asking for technical translations that have already been done by a company to ensure the quality level. Subject to confidentiality clauses, they can send you excerpts of a technical translation, and mask last names or brand names. You will be able to judge the quality of the delivered translations, including the layout work/DTP.
  • Request technical translators’ CVs and translation tests. A translation company knows how to recruit experienced translators. They can provide you with CVs –often anonymized– of technical translators skilled in your field, for each language pair. You may ask to have a translator –or even the whole team of translators– take a translation test. So the translators must translate content that is directly relevant to your business. Most of the time, this translation test is not free of charge… Yet you don’t need to have ten pages translated to evaluate the quality of a translated text, one or two paragraphs are enough!

To learn more about technical translations, ask your questions and request a quote, we suggest you contact the translation company directly and schedule a video conference meeting or a phone call.

Read about our technical translation projects!

This article has been written by Marilène Haroux

Marilène was previously an Academic and a Translator. At Cultures Connection she used to be the Vendor Manager as well as Bid Manager. Now Marilène is the Bid and Communications Manager.