Writing documentation for translation: a focus on key principles

Our previous blog post focused on the concept of “writing for translation” and here we will look at the principles for writing technical documentation in more detail: keeping our content simple, being consistent, and making sure our content is acceptable to an international audience. These three principles should help make translation, localisation and globalisation of product documentation easier and this improves efficiency and reduces costs.

First Principle: Legal Translation in Dubai

The first principle is that content must be as simple as possible. This involves being concise – selecting the minimum number of words necessary to communicate information. For example: “Set up the application” can be reduced to “Install the application”. The simpler choice of verb form reduces unnecessary words and “install” is much easier to translate easily and quickly than ”set up”. Other expressions can be simplified. For example, “Install the application in order to start” can be expressed more efficiently as “Install the application to start”.

Second Principle: Translation Company Dubai

The second principle is consistency. This promotes good comprehension of the text for readers. “Set up the software” involves a verb for which more precise word choice and meaning can be selected. For example, “Download and install the software” is clearer and uses imperatives frequently associated with the product (in this case, “software”). It is also important not to use terms interchangeably. In the context of software, we would choose either “Remove” or “Delete” throughout our text and avoid switching between the terms. A writer also needs to consider word omissions that can lead to comprehension difficulties. Let’s look at an example: “You can change a file using the utility”. The problem here is that there are two meanings: “You can change the file that uses the utility” or “You can change the file by using the utility”. Although we are aiming to be concise, there are times where we shouldn’t omit words if the result is ambiguity as we have seen in this example.

Third Principle: Translation Services

The third principle is making documentation acceptable to an international audience at the point of authoring technical writing for a product. A key strategy here is avoiding colloquial expressions and slang terms because readers may not be able to move beyond the literal to the figurative meaning. This obviously alienates them. And, furthermore, slang and idiomatic expressions pose difficulties for translators. Linked to the idiomatic is the use of humour. This needs to be avoided: what is amusing varies within a country as much as between countries. It is also important to avoid metaphors. A metaphor in one language and culture does not necessarily have meaning and relevance for people in another country.

The major aspects of these three key principles described in this post can help an author move towards a consciousness of the importance of “writing for translation” and some of the ways that this can be achieved.

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