How to Select Your Translation Service Provider Correctly

Quality of Translation Services

Do you know how to order a translation and correctly select an appropriate agency that will provide you with the translations of agreements, manuals or educational documentation?

During the translation process, a number of uncertainties my appear, therefore the client is advised to provide the translator with as much additional information as possible before the project has been started.

1. Language
The correct selection of the target language and its type may have a great influence upon the text style and its layout (for instance, British or American English, Brazilian Portuguese or Portuguese as it is spoken in Portugal etc.).

2. The Purpose of the Translated Text
The purpose of the translated text should be clearly indicated: internal or external use, sales brochure, agreement or other. For documents such as brochures, home pages, advertising texts etc. intended for external use, special attention should be paid to the copy writing and transcreation.

3. Target Audience
The text style and even the chosen terminology may differ in the case that the text is intended for use by specialists in the field who are familiar with the specific vocabulary and terminology. A translation intended for a simple consumer may turn out to be entirely different. In any case, a translation should be written in a language the reader understands.

4. Subject-matter and Amount
Information on subject-matter and the level of complexity of the text helps the translator to determine his/her adequacy for undertaking such a project. We advise that you send the text for evaluation.

5. Format
Is the translation required a simple document (Word, TXT, Excel etc.) or a more complex DTP and layout design (PDF, CDR etc.)? Shall the text be prepared for submission to a printing house?

6. Legible Written Text
The translator should receive a clear and legible text, since the translation from an illegible document will not be precise, which is of particular importance when translating legal or medical documents. The source text may be presented in electronic form (in a CD or sent by e-mail) or printed on paper. The quality of the source document is very important because even one comma may change the meaning or structure of the whole text.

7. Delivery
The time of delivery, deliverable file format (WORD, EXCEL, PDF or bound and notarized translation etc.) and means of delivery (e-mail, regular post, courier or any other way) should all be agreed to before the project is started.

8. Reference Materials
Any reference materials that you can provide will ease the translation process. Similar product descriptions, translation memories from previous translations, terminology lists developed and used at your particular company, general information about the end-client (annual reports, information leaflets etc.) may serve as helpful reference materials. If translator has easy access to these reference materials, it will be easier for him/her to find and use the terminology that is used in the company or industry that you represent. 

9. Contact Persons and Contact Details
In order perfectly to understand the text, the translator may need to contact some person from your company who is expert in the specific sector or responsible for the project in question. In the case of complex technical texts or device descriptions needing translation, consultations with experts in the given sector may be particularly helpful as an understanding of, for instance, a device set-up and its workings is of utmost importance in producing a correct translation.

10. Localisation Kindly inform the translator if the text has to be adapted for its target audience, is it going to serve for any particular objective or meant for concrete group of people.

11. Reasonable Delivery Deadlines
Plan your project as to allow for a sufficient amount of time for the translator to carry out the work. A logical phrasing of sentences and thought takes time. If an urgent delivery of the translation is necessary, there is a risk that translation will be of lower quality since the human factor is always present in the translation industry — even the best translators tend to make careless mistakes due to urgency and there might be no time corrects them because of the urgent delivery deadline.

12. Review
Review the translation and evaluate its quality. Advise your project manager if any changes are made in the translation after its delivery to you. These changes will be considered in any further projects. Excellent quality can only be achieved by long-term cooperation and successful communication between all of the parties involved in the project. 

13. Professional Cooperation
Demand that the translation be undertaken by a specialist who has had previous experience with the texts in the particular field.
By improving cooperation between the representative of your company and the translation project manager, we can always take into consideration your requirements and keep to an acceptable style and terminology. This will be beneficial for everyone!

14. Long-term Cooperation
Translation becomes possible only once a successful cooperation between a project manager, translator and a client has been established. Even if the translator fluently masters a particular language and is a specialist in a specified field, he can never know everything! Translators often specialize in translation of texts in a peculiar field; nevertheless, they do not always know which expressions and terms your company prefers and uses. Therefore, cooperation is important. Ask for one or more test translations to be performed, thus verifying the competency of the translator. Such an investment will pay off in the future.

15. Native Language
A great number of translators have a command of several languages, but everyone has only one mother tongue. When translating specialized texts intended for external use, always demand that the translation be done by a native speaker of the language or someone residing/working in the country where this language is either the official language or the language prevalent in social situations. Thus the text shall be translated taking into consideration the language traditions and become more fluent.

16. Application
Translation is often prepared for a specific purpose. Contact the translation company if you wish to make any changes in the text.

This article is prepared based on the material published by the Swedish Association of Professional Translators (SFÖ).