International communication

From TechWriter Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search


Key considerations

  • Avoid the use of slang or colloquialisms;
  • Avoid abbreviations and mnemonics;
  • Avoid humor;
  • Use consistent terminology and phrasing (use words that have only one meaning; use the same word for the same meaning throughout);
  • Use international system of measurements;
  • Take care with grammatical structures, especially where the text is prĂ©cised;
  • If in doubt as to which word to use, find out what the translations of the various words mean, and then pick the most appropriate one;
  • Take care of capitalization in case this has special significance in some languages (e.g. German).


  • Consider problems of keeping translations up-to-date
  • Extra time delay in getting updates done
  • Have documents translated in 'destination country', or at least checked by users in the native language (but don't let them alter the work themselves)

Preparing text for translation

  • Make sure you are aware of the need for translation before starting the English document
  • Provide standard translations for standard terms
  • Try to talk to the people doing the translation

Preparing multilingual documents

  • Consider using side-by-side or separate sections
  • Consider the different lengths of texts in different languages. (Especially important where pagination is critical in source language.)
  • With illustrations, consider numbers for call-outs and a separate (translated) table for explanatory text (assuming western languages)



Alternatives to translation

Consider the use of a controlled language.

Recommended books

Personal tools