Shakti Enterprise Translation Services – Knowledge Center

Language Translation – Knowledge Center

Translation Style Guide – What, How and Why?

Every person or a brand has a face and a voice that is unique to them. They have a style of their own for performing the same task.

A Mercedes and a BMW are in the same class addressing more or less the same set of audience. But they have created a different identity by following a certain style of presentation. It’s simply carried through across campaigns in all languages.

The Brand identity and a style guide for translators is a set of guidelines about how your brand ought to be presented. Style guide is not about ‘how to translate, but about what should be looked into before translation’.

Translation without Style Guide can give plain translation without the style that is unique to brand. The style that is unique to the brand could be incorporated into the translation, if translator is given the background details, as to where the market is, who the customers are and what the concept is behind the creative.

Whether it is a multi-lingual website or an advertisement campaign, style guide helps the translators to fine tune the translation by using a certain choice of words that are in keeping with the brand personality and the intended objective of the campaign.

What is Style Guide?

Style Guide is a set of rules, a guidebook on client’s preferences and expectations for translators to help improve the consistency of language and tone while translating.

What should be included in Style Guide?

  • A short description of the company, its products or services, and its goals are fundamental

  • The type of translation (Document, Legal, Technical, Marketing, Finance, Medical etc)

  • The target Audience (For whom the translation is meant)

  • The end material (Press release, Advertisement, Sales Promotion material, Website wtc)

  • The target market (Country, State, Region, Industry, Competition)

  • The target profile (Male/Female, Age group, Socio-economic profile, rural/urban)

  • Translation material Objective (Awareness, Promotion, Compliance, Notification)

  • Mandatories (Brand name, Promising lines, Product statement, Words not to be translated)

  • Tone of voice (Formal, informal, traditional, young, mature)

  • The style of content (Can the translator depart from source style and be more in tune with the audience spoken language so that it makes the right appeal in changed market profile. For example, American English copy for the American audience in America has to be localized for another market with is not mature and is traditional and formal. The style guide should specify the style of content for Indian market, Arab market, Japanese market depending on the same set of audience in different social circumstance)

  • Not to do: Very importantly, while translating from a source file, the translator will miss out on the word choice. Certain brands have liberal use of slang words, depending upon the corporate image of the brand. A united colors of Benneton has a style that is more liberal and light hearted whereas a Raymond party wear shirt for the same audience woul not like to take liberty. Certain words are negative to the brand. Certain words which are used in competitors’ ad campaign and well registered in the minds of the consumer should be avoided.

  • Reference documents may also be included in the guide, together with the visuals, images, pictures that will be published with the texts. This is especially useful in case of metaphors, which may be very different in a foreign language.

Style Guide to translator should not be too long or restrictive or boring

The simple and short style guide is good enough for effective translation if you provide a valuable reference for translators. Style Guide needs to be too complicated. You can combine this guide with glossaries and reference material to do a better job, a translation that does not sound like a translated text, but as an original document improving the quality of the message, increasing the audience engagement, and even cutting costs.

Why is a Style Guide important?

  • A style guide increases efficiency and speeds up the translation task. It reduces the reviewers’ time. It also reduces cost since there are many sentences which are repetitive and need not be translated again and again.

  • A style guide is useful for improving the translation quality as the translator is not translating blindly without keeping in front a profile of the target group. Word flow as the translating will know the choice of words to be used.

  • A style guide is an important need for localization since the translator will then be able to adapt the content for the culture of the market.

Style Guide to translator should have a structure without confusing with too many “Not to include” instructions and “too much of restriction”. After all Style Guide is a clarification note which otherwise the translator is likely to ask before starting the project.

How to Create a Translation Style Guide and Terminology Glossary?

A marketer, or someone else familiar with a company’s brand strategy, should work on creating a style guide and glossary before translation happens. An LSP can help to develop the actual materials, but a marketer must provide guidance around brand identity and industry terminology.

The initial steps should be taken by the client by giving to language service provider, the creative strategy, Brand identity, Product information, Competitive scenario, and Core target group and reference materials.

The next step should be taken by the Language service provider who will write a note to the translator as a guideline and from there structure it in a manner that it becomes a ready reckoner for a translator.

Final review is done by the client and they include terminology and glossary in to the entire style guide. A style guide should have

  • Company-specific terms.
  • Industry-specific terms.
  • Audience-specific terms
  • Keywords

Keywords are important as the translator will keep in mind to use it appropriately by changing the keywords which are relevant for the market.

A translation style guide and terminology glossary are critical tools for localization of copy matter. It saves time and money in the creation of the project. The translated content will ultimately read if it is written for the audience and not translated for the audience.

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