How to Make High-Quality Translations - Tips for Translators
We will share our experience on how to translate properly, how to make an accurate translation, how to accept translations, how to design translations correctly, how to deliver high-quality translations to your clients. These translation tips will be useful for students, prospective translators and other translation industry stakeholders.
Littera24 Translation Agency sets high standards for written translations. When translating, a professional translator not only relies on his / her knowledge of foreign languages but is also able to compile the final document as close as possible to the original text, preserving its structure so that the reader can understand it. We provide useful guidelines for written translations. Our translation tips will help you to translate properly.
Actually, any translation agency is willing to pay a higher rate for translation work on one condition, i.e. that the translated text is professional, without errors and beautiful, well-formed. If the editor has to read and edit the text several times, you may not even dream of higher rates!
It is in the translator’s interest to deliver high-quality work as fast as possible, as the translation agency then is willing to pay more for it. Please fully read the translation guidelines to ensure our translation cooperation is as successful as possible!
1. Terms and definitions
- Translation of the document into a foreign language (translation): A complete reproduction of the original text in a foreign language, preserving the nuances of the language without unnecessarily shortening the text.
- Original of the translation (original): A document to be translated into another language.
- Full translation: A translation reflecting the content of all the components of the original.
- Partial translation: A translation reflecting the content of one or more components of the original.
- Target language: The language in which the translation is translated.
- Original language: The language in which the original text was written.
- Transliteration: The transfer of a character composition to the text in the original language using the alphabet of the target language.
- Transcription: Sound transmission of the original language words (text) using the usual characters in the translation text.
- Practical transcription: Transcription using characters from the target language, allowing the reader to get an idea of the approximate sound of the original words.
- Translator’s notes: The translation contains a clearly marked text that does not correspond to the original text but explains the content or functions of the text in the translation.
2. Requirements for file names and delivery of final translations
When starting the technical task of the translation project, our manager will indicate a special number in the e-mail subject (for example 4113). This number should be kept in the subject line to continue the correspondence on each individual project. When compiling a report on the work performed during the month (or for another time period agreed), this number must be indicated in the column “Task No __”.
Before sending the technical task by e-mail, our manager will discuss all the basic conditions by phone (deadlines, tariffs, translation language, etc.). All the information discussed will be duplicated in the email. After receiving the e-mail, you have to send an acknowledgement of acceptance of the project (a simple phrase, like: “I received the e-mail” or “I confirm the order” will suffice). This also will confirm your agreement to all the conditions set out in the e-mail.
For example, if you have received a file named “4202_1_part2.doc”, then after translation, you send the file back to us with the target language at the end of the file name, for example, if you translate into Russian, the subject of the e-mail will be: “4022_1_part2.ru.doc”.
If you have received a .zip or .rar file – an archive with several files, but you open it as a single, whole document, then you name the doc-file to be translated after the name of the archive.
For example, if the archive name is “12102_dogovor.rar”, then the file name of the already translated document will be “12102_dogovor_ru.doc”.
If you have received the file to be translated in .zip or .rar form – an archive with files, and it consists of many, separate documents, then each translated doc-file document must be named separately, including the archive in the name.
For example, the archive of documents sent for translation into English was called 45551.rar, but it also contains 3 scanned files with the contract file name “45551_kontrakt(1).jpg”, “45551_kontrakt(2).jpg” and “45551_kontrakt (3).jpg”, and 1 doc-file named “45551_doverenost.doc”.
At the end of your work, you should send an e-mail with two translation documents named “45551_kontrakt_eng.doc” and “45551_doverenost_eng.doc”. Before you send your translation by e-mail, it is mandatory to provide the translation statistics and the costs of each project.
3. Translation layout requirements
It is worth remembering that the translator is responsible for the quality of the translation, the style and the translation layout! If for any reason it is not possible to submit the translation by the previously agreed deadline, you must notify our project manager beforehand. If there are gross errors in the translation, the text of the translation is sent back to the translator, who has to edit the text at no extra cost.
In case of a poor-quality translation or if the translator has not been able to submit the translation in time, a fine is applied, which is calculated based on the size of the losses incurred to our company. For this reason, we recommend that you read the translated text carefully before submission.
3.1 Translation requirements
When translating, up-to-date spelling rules and grammar rules of the target language must be observed. We recommend discussing contradictory, illegible and ambiguous places in the text, when there are several translation options (of terms, phrases, abbreviations) with our managers by highlighting the part or word of the text that is not clear with a yellow background or sending a short description of the problem.
If words written in a language other than the target language appear in the text, they should be highlighted in green.
3.1.1 Names of the institutions
For example, if there are no specific equivalents in Russian, the names of the institutions are not translated, and they are transcribed from the original language. If there are institutional abbreviations, they can be deciphered with additional brackets next to the abbreviation.
For example, from English into Latvian: SONY – SONI: this option is not allowed.
Because the names of foreign companies are not translated, they are left as they are in the original language.
The names of Russian institutions are written using transliteration.
For example, “Заря” = Zarya.
An exception is allowed if the form of ownership is mentioned in the text.
For example, we translate OOO “Ground LTD” as Ground Ltd. or OAO “Ржевский краностроительный завод “Долгота” is translated as Rzhevsk Crane-Construction Plant – Dolgota OJSC.
If the text to be translated contains abbreviations, the equivalent in the target language, if any, is provided.
For example, from Russian into English: УЗО (Устройство защитного отключения) – (ECB) Emergency Circuit Breaker.
If an equivalent does not exist, each abbreviation in the text should be translated as close as possible to its meaning, explained in the target language.
For example, from Russian into English: МИСИ (Московский инженерно-строительный институт) = MISI (Moscow Construction Engineering Institute).
The original language calendar does not always match the target language calendar.
For example: in the USA: 06/12/12 – 6th December 2012, but in Russia: 12.06.12. – 12 июня 2012. If the month is written in words, but the year is written in full numbers, then the problem itself disappears. But if we look at a format where the whole date is written in numbers, then it is very likely that questions may arise. To avoid inconsistencies, we recommend the following two options:
Option 1. We recommend adapting the date to your target language, i.e. put the date, month and year in the order in which they appear in the target language.
For example, in the original text, which is written in English (USA), the date is written in the format 07.05.12. When translating into Russian, the date will change to 05.07.12.
Option 2. Write the month and year in words. For example, in the original text, which is written in Latvian, the date is given in the following format: 25.08.2011., while in English it should be written as August 25, 2011.
3.1.4 Names and surnames
If the client has not provided a document confirming his/her identity or any other document with similar or equal legal force, then the translator has the right to transcribe the names and surnames found in the document according to the grammar rules of the target language. This applies to both translating from and into Russian. Every time foreign names and surnames appear in the text, they need to be transcribed.
For example, from English into Russian: John Smith = Джон Смит (John Smith).
3.1.5 Geographical names and addresses
When translating geographical names, they should always be checked in professional dictionaries, manuals, or proven websites.
Addresses are not translated but transliterated into the target language!
3.2 Layout requirements
In the translation, it is important to preserve the text, formulas, as well as images, tables, a.o. visual material placed in the original text.
When translating any type of text, the main language font is Times New Roman, font size – 12 or 14, line spacing – 1, margins: from left – 3 cm, from right, top and bottom – 2 cm, first-line indent – 1.25 cm. No intervals are required between abbreviations.
The text of the translation must retain:
- the numbering of each chapter, the paragraphs (including the listing) – even if the symbols of the original language,
- the format of the tables and the written formulas are used.
Remember that no more than one space can appear between words. It is not recommended to divide the translated text (or to divide the content of the pages) if the changes are due to reasons such as page size or page orientation. When translating, we recommend that you keep the page orientation of the original text (portrait or landscape).
3.2.1 Layout of visuals and tables in the translation
Visuals (drawings, diagrams, tables, diagrams, etc.) are placed in the translated text exactly as in the original text. Arranging visuals at the end of the text is permissible.
If you have drawings, we recommend that you leave them in the original text location and keep them in their original form.
Uneditable objects embedded in the text, such as images, charts, and graphs with captions, are processed, as follows:
Option 1. The image has been inserted. Next to the source text are the numbers. Below is the translation in numbering order.
1 – English
2 – English
3 – English
Option 2. Insert an image, then a table with the captions to be translated (on the left is the original beginning of the caption to be translated – on the right is the translation option).
For example, if the translation is from Spanish into English
Option 3. Translate text in an image, chart, etc. using special technical programs. Uneditable objects (images, photos, etc. – without captions and titles) obtained in the translated text are processed as follows:
If there are no sites linked to the image in the text, it cannot be inserted. Instead, there should be the phrase: “Image” or “Picture” in slashes.
a) For example, when translating into English– /image/, /picture/.
Throughout the translation, it is very important to write only these words and only use the above-mentioned layout. Writing analogies and synonyms such as photos, imagery, etc. is unacceptable. This is necessary to maintain a uniform text style.
b) If the image has a reference to the translated text, it is inserted instead of the original text, preserving its size and location. For notarized translations, regardless of the situation, only a) is valid.
If there are tables in the text, they should be placed into the translation, preserving the structure as much as possible without changing the placement of the content in the cells, as well as the number of rows and columns.
3.2.2 Illegible text and signatures translations
If the justification document contains instances of illegible text (such as handwritten text or a poorly printed stamp) which is difficult to translate, the word /illegible/ must appear in italics in the appropriate place using slashes.
Handwritten signature images may not be included in the translation. Where appropriate, the following must be written in italics and using slashes: /signature/.
For example, a signature in the original text:
Translation of the signature:
Initials and surname: Show White
3.2.3 Translation of details (if a full document is available) from Russian into English
Stamps and seals in the original text must not be displayed as images in the translation text, stamp inscriptions must be translated.
In this situation, certain sample requirements must be adhered to, such as:
- the property name in bold,
- the next line in italics translating the stamp text,
- the text font (except for crossing) must match the original text font,
- If the seal or stamp contains several lines, each of them must be represented on a new line in the translation.
- If there is an interlining on the stamp, it must be translated and inserted before the translation of the text relating to that interlining.
- The asterisk symbol (*) or other symbols on the stamp or seal are not translated, it is not recommended to separate the stamp or seal by placing it in a box.
For example, the stamp of the original document.
/Jagkazgan City Archives of the Karaganda Region Archive of Private Documents
An example of stamp representation:
Rectangular stamp translation:
/Turkmenistan Border. Dashoguza Region
Bolvumskaya District Police Station
By hand: Village Council G. Atamedov 5th district
3.2.4 Sample translation of properties (if only properties need to be translated)
If only properties need to be translated (if the rest of the document is in English), a list of translation templates may be useful.
It is necessary to write a text about which documents need to be translated, indicating:
- Name of the document
- Date and document number
- To whom the document is issued
- Language pair
Then fulfil all the above requirements related to the specific translation.
You receive a certificate on the absence of the fact of marriage No. 6, issued on 02.07.2012 at the Civil Registry Office of Sovetsk District of Moscow, submitted by John Smith. It should be mentioned that the text of the certificate is in Russian, but the text of the details in English. The document must be submitted to one of the state authorities of the UK. In this case, the list of documents must be drawn up as follows:
Translation of the round stamp of the coat of arms on the marriage certificate of absence no. 6, submitted by John Smith, issued on 02.07.2012 in the Civil Registry Office of the Sovetsk District of Moscow, from Russian into English.
Translation of the round coat of arms:
/the Civil Registry Office of Sovetsk District of Minsk/
3.2.5 Confirmation of the correctness of the translation
When translating a document, followed by a notarization at the bottom of each translation page, you must write the text (insert footer):
“I, the translator (name, surname), certify that the text of the document I have translated is an accurate translation from ___ into ____.”.
It is worth remembering that when translating from English into another language, the text that is included in the footer must be written in the target language.
4. Check your translation
When you have finished the translation, we suggest to run your spellchecker and correct any mistakes and typos. After that, you as a translator and editor have to read the text and compare it to the original. We recommend to read it once more and make sure if that makes sense. Readers have to read your translated version as if it was written in your language.
Another check can be done if you use CAT tools for missing text or formatting issues. Trados and Mermsource tools have standard QA features. With CAT tools you can detect some untranslated segments, source same as the target, and even missing or wrong numbers and spaces.
Xbench can be used for a deeper check. You can upload the translation memory and check the formatting, file consistency, missing translations, segments with number mismatches, different source segments having generated the same translation (probably the error has been created by accepting a translation memory match), and vice versa, or in the case multiple translation versions have been generated from the same source file.
These instructions are based on the existing international standards, the Translation Handbook of Legislative Acts by the Translation and Terminology Centre, and many years of experience in working with documents.
If, after reading these translation instructions, you have any questions or suggestions on how to improve the standardization process for translation performance, we will be happy to receive your suggestions by adding your comment below.
Littera24.com Translation Agency team