The translation of technical documents can often contain sensitive information in relation to a business’ activity. They must be perfect because the stakes are very high in terms of credibility and consequences in case of negligence.

Whether it is getting your technical documents translated such as, user manuals, technical datasheets, patents or scientific, health or engineering articles, choosing an expert translation agency that specialises in technical translation is one of the ways in which you can ensure your credibility when exporting.

Before going any further and explaining exactly how to get your hands on precise technical document translation services, a little reminder of what falls into the “technical documents” category, and how this field of translation differs from that of commercial or marketing translation.

What is technical translation?

Specialised Translation

Technical translation is a type of specialised translation, it relates to scientific documents or technical documents such as those explained above. These documents require a specialised translator, who has a concrete understanding of the subject and who knows the specialised terminology required in the source and target languages.

How much does technical translation cost?

Technical translation costs more than standard translation and can take longer. Generally, the more specialised and technical the subject is, the more the business should facture it into their budget and the time frame that they will need.

The price and time frame will depend on the scientific or technical knowledge required, the number of specialised translators available in the specific target language and the demand for these translators.

For example, the translation of patents is a very specialised area. This requires an in-depth knowledge of the subject and knowledge in drawing up patent following the strict legal and practical demands. Very few translators have these skills.

For example, there are a lot less Japanese translators available than English translators – even though the demand for Japanese translators (as well as Chinese and Arabic) is very high.

What are the consequences of an inaccurate technical translation?

Choosing the right translation agency can either make or break the reputation of an organisation. A rough translation will convey a very unprofessional company image, and in the worst case scenario, this could be fatal.

Imagine the consequences if the storage conditions of protective wear were incorrectly translated, and the protective gloves that protect the hands from temperatures up to 500 degrees became deficient. The consequences would be severe.

Three things to cover when translating technical documents

The most common technical challenges in terms of translation are:

1 . Choose the right translation agency, making sure that they specialise in technical translation

It is very important to consider the quality assurance in the price. Choosing a translation agency based on the cost is always a mistake. It is definitely recommended that you choose an agency that will translate your documents following a certain standard rather than going with an agency that provides cheaper translation rates, with which you risk paying the price later on. In order to avoid this hurdle, here are some tips to verify an agency:

  • Define your objectives the SMART way (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound)
  • Know your audience: who are these translated documents for?
  • Do you need technical support? For example, translating a website may require coding skills.

2 . Provide your technical translation agency with a design brief

The more concise your design brief is, the better the result. If you can have only 5 elements in the design brief they should be the following:

  • The project scope
  • The deadline to meet
  • Required languages
  • Source texts, if possible
  • Reference material

3 . Establish a point of contact in the company

In order to have open communication with the translation agency, it is crucial to establish a point of contact within the company so that the priority work is efficiently dealt with.

This point of contact will be the one who will confirm all the logistical questions with the translation agency and in particular, questions about translation deadlines.

How to prepare you documents for technical translation?

Before sending the documents to the translation agency, the following points should be confirmed:

  • Be precise in defining the target market and/or target audience, so that the translation agency will know in advance, and apply linguistic or cultural specificities in the translation.
  • Be sure that all the documents for translation are names and finalised. Any changes made to these documents after the translation process has begun, can lead to delays and confusion.
  • Use an appropriate file format: check with the translation agency which file formats they work with.
  • Create a glossary that covers your specific technological terminology.

ACSTraduction has been helping professionals with technical translation for more than 20 years. Our high standards have made our reputation, and we would be delighted to help you in succeeding in your export ventures.