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Preparing for translations

Text for translation

The following tips will assist in preparing a text for translation.

  • Clarity – Use plain English and write in the active voice. Explain unfamiliar concepts and complex terminology. Avoid idioms, metaphors, acronyms, professional jargon, slang, colloquialisms, euphemisms and figures of speech.
  • Brevity – Keep it short. Consider a summary version for translation rather than the full publication. This ensures the source text is easier to translate and comprehend. A clear source for additional information such as a website or a phone number should be included wherever relevant. Any staff member receiving calls for additional information should be trained in how to use the services of an interpreter.
  • Appropriateness – Adapt the source text to each community group. Consider the level of pre-existing knowledge in the target group. For example, recently arrived communities may be less familiar with the service system than more established communities. Also, be alert to cultural sensitivities about particular topics. Consult the relevant community about the most appropriate way to deal with the topic. Ensure that any images or graphics are culturally appropriate.
  • Accuracy – Proof read the English text prior to submitting it for translation and ensure it is the final version. The translator will translate everything as provided and is not responsible for correcting errors or unclear information. Consider using an editor to ensure the clarity and accuracy of the source text.

Design template

The translation may take up more or less space than the English text. Text expansion and reduction should be taken into account when creating the design template for your publication. Consult the language service provider and brief your graphic designer beforehand.

Bilingual publications

Consider bilingual versions that include both English and the other language in the same publication. This allows an English speaking user to refer to the translated version with a non-English speaking client.

Reviewed 19 August 2019

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