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Four steps to achieving quality in translations and localisation

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Monica Basting photoLiz Robertson, Chair of the UK Mirror Group for the new CEN standard, says, "Professional translation providers need to demonstrate what sets them apart". This new 'best practice' column by Monica Basting of ATC member Wordbank aims to provide practical advice on how translation and localization companies can persuade clients that the value of words is more important than their cost.

This first column explains how a fourstage process - translating, editing, internal QA and proofreading - is the best way to ensure quality.

Stage One - Translation

Source material should always be translated in the actual country where it will be used. Translators should provide a freeflowing translation of the source text that does not sound like a translation through its contemporary and idiomatic use of their mother tongue. It should also be stylistically in keeping with the tone, specifications and target audience identified in the client's brief.

Stage Two - Editing

An independent editor should then ensure that the translation accurately conveys the message of the source text and meets the client's style requirements. Editors should check the language without the source text and read the text as if they are the target audience, asking questions such as "Does the language sound clumsy and literally translated?" and "Can you guess the English text from which it originated?"

They should correct mistranslations and check for technical accuracy and consistent use of terminology, grammar, spelling and punctuation.

The editing stage should result in a polished text that reads as if originally written in the target language.

Stage Three - Internal QA

The third stage should be an in-house QA process that thoroughly checks the edited document against the source text, across all languages of the project. At this stage, in-house linguists should focus on identifying any critical content errors such as figures, product names, omissions, misinterpretations and any inconsistencies with client-approved terminology.

After the internal QA, the localized text should now be correct in terms of linguistic style, consistency of terminology and technical accuracy.

Stage Four - Proofreading

Proofreading after typesetting or putting the translation online should always be undertaken by a linguist who has not seen the text before and who will check the language file for grammatical, typing and spelling errors as well as punctuation, hyphenation and corrupted accented characters. Online files should also be checked for basic functionality such as links, error messages and missing graphics. This stage is the final opportunity to ensure suitability of copy in context, including consistency between headings, pages and drop-down menu measurements.

This four-stage process is a proven methodology for achieving natural, accurate and persuasive communication with a value that cannot be equated with the bargain basement pricing approach.

For a more in-depth look at how translation companies can achieve quality, visit and register for a management briefing on “Getting the QA Balance Right.”

This article was originally published in Communicate - the Association of Translation Companies' newsletter -

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