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Simply Understood Documentation
by Terralíngua      Posted in  May 27, 2016
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Simply Understood DocumentationWhen developing content, writers have foremost in their minds the target audience – the people reading and using their material. Target audience familiarity with the subject matter and their familiar jargon must be considered.

However what is often not in their minds is that their content may be needed for another audience. Their words, so perfectly crafted for one target, may be translated into another language. Though the writer’s meaning may have been clear to him (or her), that assumed understanding can become muddled after translation. Cultural references which made the content relevant to one audience can create confusion to another. Vague text that could be interpreted different ways – will be.

What is a writer to do? As with many things in life, the answer is to keep it simple.

Below are simple ideas to increase comprehension and effectiveness in any language.

1) Avoid the use of idioms. You probably use idioms every day and are not aware of it. For example, have you ever used the following?

  1. – Ahead of the curve (meaning you are more advanced than the competition)
  2. – Back to square one (to start all over again)
  3. – Raise the bar (set higher standards)
  4. – Ballpark number (a rough estimate)

Do you see? Even though idioms are a good approach to informal texts, they can be hard to translate. Avoiding them, you will avoid misunderstandings.

2) Be as accurate as possible. Avoid exaggerations as well as omissions based on assumptions.

3) Brevity is key. Look at a sentence to see if words could be omitted. Could an idea be restructured in a more concise way? Not only will it improve content but this step can reduce translation costs as rates are applied per word.

4) Evaluate content for other meanings or unclear references. The best way to avoid ambiguity is to have someone outside of the industry to review the text and check their comprehension.

5) Create a style guide and rules to ensure consistent documentation practices. When establishing guidelines ensure they would apply to any language version.

6) Create a glossary both for your technical and regular terms. Even regular words may have preferential translations according to the client. And if you are not aware of how to translate them in order to create your glossary, a professional translation agency can help you out.

So get out the red pen and take a sample of your current content – marketing material or user manual. Look at it with fresh eyes to see how you could simplify your content. The resulting clarity and comprehension equals effective communication in any language.

Utilizing over a decade of industry experience, Terralingua supplies professional translation and multilingual desktop publishing to the world’s top brands. Visit our website to learn more about our ISO certified business and post a file for a free, no obligation proposal.

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