by Darren Jansen, Content Manager, IVANNOVATION Language Management
Companies constantly waste money by making simple mistakes with their translation strategy. And yes, translation should be approached with a strategy. Yet most companies translate on an ad hoc basis without a game plan.
Here are five strategies that companies can use to save money on their translations.
1. Send Editable Files for Translation
Whenever possible, don’t send PDFs or images of the document to the translator. Instead, deliver the editable source file to the translator or the translation company for them to translate.
One of the greatest misconceptions of translation is that translators sit at their computer with a PDF and a Word document open on their computers and that they look back and forth between the two translating.
The truth is that for decades translators have been using sophisticated translation tools that can extract the text from editable files—such as DOCX, XLSX, PPTX, INDD, etc.—and then after the translator is finished working, these tools can simply replace the original text with the translated text.
Typically there is little need to spend any time formatting or redesigning the translated files.
If you give PDFs to translators, they must spend additional time recreating and reformatting the document in a new language.
2. Design the Original Documents So They Can Be Translated Easily
Mainly designing documents for translation involves two things.
First, many languages take more space than English. For example, German text can be around 30% longer than English.
When we created a free poster in six languages to inform people about COVID-19, we had to edit down the English text several times so that the final versions in other languages would not be cramped in the design.
Second, make sure that all text in your document is actually editable text, not photographs of text. For example, if you have help documentation with photographs of diagrams, the words in those photographs cannot be translated easily with the rest of the document.
3. Have a System for Q&A
A system for translators to ask their questions and get responses from content creators is critical for translation. Email is inefficient and ineffective.
A good Q&A system will allow translators to search for other questions that have been answered in the past and post their own questions.
At IVANNOVATION we often use a spreadsheet-type system for Q&A. We created a spreadsheet template based on our Q&A system that can be downloaded for free here.
4. Use Machine Translation With Human Post-Editing
Let a computer translate the text and then have a human post-edit the translation.
This “machine + human” method can lead to significant savings, depending on the quality of the machine translation output.
5. Use Translation Memory Technology
By using translation memory, IVANNOVATION was able to save one of its customers $30,000 on a single project. Our bid for the project was 25% lower than any of our competitors.
With translation memory, every sentence gets saved into a database with its translation. Then you will never pay to translate that sentence again.
Further, similar sentences are translated at a discount. For example, if you translate, “Please open the door,“ it will always be translated for free in the future. But, “Please open the window,” is different by only one word, so the per-word-rate for this sentence is discounted.
For companies that are continually updating their content or for companies that have several similar product lines, the use of translation memory can be a revolutionary technology that saves massive amounts of money over the long term.
Thinking strategically leads to quality translation at lower cost.