Style Matters! Credit: classic_film via Compfight cc

Style Matters! Credit: classic_film via Compfight cc

How can you ensure your brand image remains consistent when translating content for the global marketplace? While many businesses use style guides to create English language content, they may not always realize the importance of developing one for their translated content. A style guide establishes style and tone, grammatical conventions, and terminology for maintaining your company’s voice and image in multilingual materials.

What are the benefits of a translation style guide?

  • Reducing time spent answering queries regarding terminology, style, localizable elements (i.e.: phone numbers, currency, abbreviations, measurements), and context.
  • Ensuring a smoother review process by providing proofreaders and editors with an evaluation framework. This can save time and money by reducing the number of preferential changes and revisions during the review process.
  • Improving consistency and quality by identifying and standardizing the terminology or branding elements that should be employed by linguists.

What should I include in my style guide?

A translation style guide should be concise. If possible, it should include relevant examples for each language pair—these examples may be from previous translation projects.  Some companies may choose to prepare a general translation style guide for all languages. Others may elect to create a style guide for each target language. A translation style guide should include each of the following:

  • Information on the target audience, such as nationality, age, and occupation.
  • Instructions for style and tone: Should the translator use a formal or informal tone? Should linguists find equivalents for cultural references? Is the style of writing more technical or more creative?
  • Grammatical conventions including punctuation, capitalization, syntax, and spelling.
  • Conventions for localizing date and time formats, currency, measurements, numbers, and addresses.
  • Terminology and branding guidelines: A terminology glossary should include company, industry, and audience-specific terms that must be translated consistently or remain in English.
  • Acronyms and abbreviations.
  • Reference materials, including links to online termbases or dictionaries.

How can I leverage my style guide?

The translation style guide should be shared with everyone involved in the translation and localization process, from content stakeholders and copywriters to translators and reviewers.  It should become an invaluable tool that is integrated into every step of content creation. However, it is important to remember that the translation style guide is not a static document. As your brand and services evolve, the translation style guide should be updated to reflect any changes.  Feedback from translators, reviewers, and project managers is important; the style guide should be a reflection of an ongoing dialogue with your translation partners as your company’s global presence matures.

When used in tandem with translation memories, glossaries, and quality assurance tools, the translation style guide can increase translator productivity, streamline the review process, and reduce costs. Most importantly, consistent use of your style guide helps assure that your brand continues to resonate with your target audience.