When a client engages us to assist with translation of – let's say – a user manual for one of their products, it will be necessary for us to ask them for a lot of information so that we will be in the position to provide the best level of service possible. For example, for a single user manual, here is a general list of what we need – both informationally and in regard to electronic files:
- Target language (s)
- Target locale (s)
- Target audience (s)
- Planned publication date
- Client review or none
- Context of the document (how it will be used)
- Publication path (printed, Web, desktop, on DVD / CD)
- Layout files
- Layered artwork for images
- Control PDF
- PDF printing specifications
These lists are not exhaustive either. They also do not reflect the questions we may have about specific information contained in the document.
So, why is all this necessary? Here is some insight into why we inquisitive translators may sometimes sound like precocious four-year-olds …
Target languages and locales
This may seem obvious to many, but oftentimes some of our clients are not really sure which language they may need or that different locales exist for a given language. A well-known example is French. Our first question about French is, "French for Europe or Canada?" (There are many other locales where French is used, but this is the most common distinction for our clientele). It's important for us to know the specific locale so that we can match the translation to the correct local requirements.
Client review or none
Advanced Language offers client review at no additional cost as long as we have accounted for the timing and execution of how a client will undertake review for a particular project. When, how and by what a review will be done all impact the cost and scheduling of a project. By knowing the specifics up front, we can devise the most cost- and time-effective process for a particular project.
Context of the document
Typically a user guide is simply a user guide. Oftentimes, a white paper, for example, is not a white paper. It's a marketing piece. The distinction can be critical for translation. White papers are technical documents. The style is dry with a scientific tone. If the goal is to use it to market a product, then the tone needs to shift and the style needs to be more intriguing. If we are not aware of how the document will be used, we will not be able to deliver a translation that is specific for the intended purpose. That's why we need to ask up front.
In regard to "assets", ie the electronic files we need to carry out translation and layout, we recognize that it might take consideration effort for clients to obtain all the pieces we ask for. Oftentimes, we are asked, "Can not you just work from the PDF file?" The answer is "Maybe". Sometimes if all you need is to understand what an article says, then we can work from the PDF and provide just the translated content. In this case the format is not important; only the information is.
If the document in question is a large manual or flashy marketing piece, format is critical. Re-incurring the cost of recreating the layout from scratch can be avoided if the original layouts are available.
The litany of questions we may ask can sometimes be daunting, but be assured we're not doing it for our convenience. The questions indicate that there may be a better way to approach a project, and we're simply trying to find the best option for translating in the most time- and cost-effective way.