5 Best Practices for Public Health Language Translation

I have been working closely with public health professionals for over ten years now. My experience includes working with various state and county public health departments, with a specific focus on multicultural communication.

With the APHA Annual Meeting & Expo about to start, I thought this would be a great time to share my experiences with you about the best practices I have learned and implemented over the years doing language translation for public health clients.

One of your goals as a public health professional is to ensure health equity for the people you serve. One way to do that is to offer content in their native language. Here are the 5 best practices for public health language translation you can apply immediately in your field of work.

1. Understand the Target Audience

Prior to having your public health materials translated, you must first understand your target audience. Is the target audience LEP (limited-English proficient) persons that immigrated to the United States, or do they still reside in their native countries? For this article, let’s assume you are targeting LEP populations in the United States.

Diverse Target Audience

The next step is to identify the languages of LEP persons you are targeting. You can do this in person by using I-SPEAK cards available at www.lep.gov. Once the language is identified, it should be stored in the respective LEP person’s health record. This information can then be aggregated and used to determine the most commonly-requested languages in your public health district to ensure meaningful access to services.

Another source you can use to determine the languages in your area are various demographic surveys. Using this method will give you a high-level view of the languages in your area. It’s not as precise as the first method I mentioned above.

Your takeaway: Know and understand your LEP target audience before translating your public health content.

2. Translate for the Appropriate Reading Level

MedlinePlus.gov recommends writing your health content for the 7th or 8th-grade reading level. This is perfectly fine for a native English-speaking audience. When you are ready to translate your English public health content into other languages, I recommend targeting the 5th or 6th-grade reading level.

Translate for the appropriate reading level

The reason behind this is that the education level of certain immigrant populations may not be as high as your typical native English speaker. In fact, I’ve personally observed persons in certain communities who can speak their native language, but have a tough time reading.

If a person can’t read in English, let alone their native language, you will have a tough time communicating with him or her. To help ensure better understanding, target a lower reading level and follow the plain language guidelines.

Your takeaway: Instruct your translation vendor to translate for the 5th or 6th-grade reading level.

3. Create a Glossary and Style Guide

Every industry has specific terminology and jargon. Public health is not an exception to this rule.

For example, terms such as assurance, benchmarks, cultural competence, evidence, risk assessment and vector can mean different things in different contexts. To avoid misunderstandings, you probably already have an English public health glossary such as this one.

Glossary

Many states have their public health glossaries available in languages such as Spanish. For other languages, especially those of rare diffusion, have your translation vendor assist you with creating one. The benefits of having approved bilingual glossaries is improved consistency in public health communication.

A style guide is just as important for the look and feel of the public health materials as a glossary is for the content and context of the translated text. The style guide should address abbreviations, acronyms, units, and terms that should be transliterated or kept in English, among other things.

Here is a great example of an English style guide for public health communication.

Your takeaway: Create and utilize bilingual glossaries and style guides for your translated public health material.

4. Localize Photos and Graphics

Adapting a piece of content into another language typically requires more than translating the text. A publication laid out in InDesign will have text, along with visual elements such as photos and images. Some of those images may contain text within them!

Washington State Dept. of Health English Source

In most cases, it is recommended that you have the photos and images localized for the target audience. This means that you may decide to replace images of people with photos of people who look more like a typical speaker of that language. Having localized photos and images will create a better end-user experience. It will help the person relate to the translated piece of content.

It’s also important to consider cultural factors when localizing photos and images, so you don’t offend your target audience. Here are some things to avoid: hand symbols and gestures, religious symbols, and animal symbols that could have emotional meanings.

Conversely, here are some visual elements you can include: images of nature, abstract shapes, inanimate objects, globally recognized public health symbols and other standardized images that particular cultures won’t find offensive.

Your takeaway: Think beyond text translation. Make sure all photos and images are localized properly.

5. Involve Local Communities

For your public health communication to be successful, you must first build trust with your target audience. This is true regardless of the language you’re communicating in. If your target audience doesn’t have trust in you, your communication will not be as effective as it could be.

Friendly Government

Most public health agencies being government entities must build trust with the local immigrant communities in their districts. The reason behind this is that in some countries, government agencies are viewed as corrupt entities that are out to extort people. This is especially true in developing countries that are torn by war and other conflicts.

How do you build trust?

By involving your local communities before, during and after translating your public health content. The best way to do this is through community meetings and workgroups. You will be getting the communities involved, with the help of language interpreters, and build trust.

By doing this you will emphasize that government is not a threat. This will help focus more on the public health issues you’re addressing to begin with.

Your takeaway: Communicate and build trust with the local immigrant communities for your public health communication to be successful.

Conclusion

Language translation plays a big part in ensuring health equity in public health. You can define the success of your public health communication by understanding your target audience, their cultural and educational background, creating a glossary and style guide, localizing photos and images, and building trust.

Following these best practices and working with language translation vendors who can help you execute them is essential to successful communications. It’s also time and money well spent.

Please share other best practices you’ve come across as a public health professional working with diverse communities in the comments.

Fast & Cheap Quality Translation – Fact or Myth?

Have you ever thought about getting that awesome tattoo and hoped not to regret it later?

Most of us have, including myself. A tattoo can be something simple that takes minutes to complete or more elaborate that takes months, if not years.

It can be done by a professional tattoo artist at a reputable parlor or by an amateur somewhere in a basement.

Whether you choose to go with a professional or an amateur, there will be a certain risk factor associated with each one.

That risk directly relates to the cost and quality of the service provided to you.

No Ragrets - Spelling Error

Surprisingly, tattoo parlors and artists are no different from language service companies and translators.

The ugly truth behind translation services is people may think that all translation services are made equal. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

It’s really like comparing apples and oranges. And in every crate of apples and oranges there are a few bad ones that may spoil it for everyone else.

Some companies may be able to charge less for their services. However, the odds are they can do this by cutting corners. Here are some examples.

Relying too much on technology

It’s easy to plug your text into a free translation tool on the web and get results. What’s troublesome is that some companies and translators do this and then charge for their work.

If this is the quality you are looking for, you might as well do it yourself for free.

Not working with professional translators

Some companies may use bilingual people who “think” they know how to translate. It’s an equivalent of someone watching a few episodes of Law & Order and thinking they can suddenly practice law.

Using economies of scale

This includes paying translators in other countries ridiculously low fees. Who can live on that?

Language translation is one of the oldest professions in the world and professional translators deserve to be compensated accordingly.

Applying different processes to their translation workflow

For example, they only use one linguist for translation, editing & proofreading (TEP) process. Whereas, others may use one, two or three linguists for a project (one for each of the TEP steps).

A true TEP process will yield the highest quality service.

The Value of Professional Translation

As Jonny Henchman points in his article: Translation: Price is what you pay, Value is what you get,

“the big issue is that many language service companies have been competing against each other in a race to the bottom on cost and deadlines for so long that many of their clients believe that price and speed are the only differentiating factors in the industry.”

Think about this.

You’ve already invested significant time, money and resources in creating your content in English.

Your reputation is on the line in your messaging.

Now you need the same content in other languages.

Why cut corners now?

If you want it fast and cheap, be prepared for low quality work. If that’s okay with you, there will always be someone to do it.

If quality is an important part of your brand and content messaging, I recommend you work with an experienced language services company that works with professional human translators.

Download this article in PDF format.

What are your thoughts on this subject?

Please share in the comments.

This article was originally published on August 7, 2014 and has been updated on August 31, 2016.

13 Translation Errors That Can Ruin Your Content

Producing content for your business is a thoughtful, careful, and important process. You apply significant time and resources to creating content that is relevant and memorable for your target audience.

Once you’ve got it just right, you may be ready to have your content translated. Making the decision to translate your materials into one or more foreign languages is a big step towards serving a broader audience – it can change your business dramatically!

When you’re ready to take that step, you want to be sure that your translations match the quality of the English content you so thoughtfully created, right?

Translations riddled with errors will be ineffective, just like English content would be if it were full of mistakes! However, the types of errors you should watch out for in translations are often different than the errors you might see in your original English materials.

Objective vs. Subjective Errors

There are two categories of errors to be aware of: objective and subjective.

Objective Errors

These are things like spelling errors or text omissions. There can be no argument about whether or not a header is missing from a translation or whether a word is spelled right. These errors are considered objective.

Subjective Errors

These are more difficult to address. For subjective errors, you may have as many opinions on the “right way” to do something as you have reviewers. These errors are things like choosing between synonyms.

English, for example, has both “car” and “automobile”. They mean the same thing, and choosing between the two is a preferential decision – or a style choice. Choosing the “right” one may depend on where you come from, the tone of the text, the intended reading level, or a personal style.

Types of Errors

Here are the 13 translation errors that can ruin your content.

1. Omissions (text not translated)

Everything that was included in your English materials was put there for a reason – leaving something out could change the message completely!

You will want to keep your eyes peeled for omissions to make sure your message is communicated correctly and completely, as you intended.

Error Type: Objective

2. Text Not Adapted to Local Market

All languages are associated with one or more cultures, which opens the door for important translation nuances. If you’re translating your materials into French, for example, you will want to let your translation vendor know where the target audience is located – Canada? Europe? Africa?

Canadian French and European French are arguably the most common choices for French translations, and they differ in many ways. In spoken language the differences are more noticeable, but there are key differences in their written forms that will make it easy for a French speaker to identify which dialect is being used.

For example, Canadian French vocabulary has a lot more anglicisms used in writing than European French. And there are some subtle grammar differences between the two as well, such as the use of “que” as a relative pronoun in Canadian French.

Example:

EnglishI found the document (which) I need.
Canadian FrenchJ’ai trouvé le document que j’ai de besoin.
European FrenchJ’ai trouvé le document dont j’ai besoin.

While all of the French speakers in the world can understand each other, adapting your translations to the intended market will help the readers relate to your content, and – in some cases – may be important so as not to alienate the readers and make them feel like an afterthought when they see that the translation was made for France when they live in Canada.

Error Type: Subjective

3. Mistranslations

This kind of error has arguably the worst consequences. Language is so creative and the ways to express the same things are many. But sometimes a translator may misread a sentence, which leads to a mistranslation.

This can happen due to a translator’s lack of knowledge in the subject area, homographs (words that are spelled the same, but have different meanings) that are read as the wrong word, or simple human error.

These kinds of errors can be avoided by having a second (or even third) linguist proofread the translations. Four eyes are better than two!

Error Type: Objective

4. Reference Materials Not Reviewed

Translators rarely work without the support of reference materials. If you have been with the same translation vendor for a while, they probably have a large Translation Memory (TM) database for you, which the linguists refer to while working. Additional resources include: glossaries, style guide, dictionaries, product information, and company background.

It can be painfully obvious when a translator did not review the reference materials. They will be less familiar with the content and their translations will not sound as professional and will not be as consistent with your previously translated materials.

Error Type: Subjective

5. Style Guide Not Followed

Your materials were carefully designed in English to cater to your target audience, and your translations need to target foreign language speakers of the same audience. Imagine if you wrote at a 5th grade reading level for a medical research study! Or an academic level for 5th grade summer camp materials!

In addition to reading level, style choices like deciding between formal vs. informal tone, whether to translate proper names or not, and how to handle measurements (metric or imperial) are equally important. It is vital to think these things through before sending your content to your translation vendor.

Error Type: Subjective

6. Spelling, Grammar & Syntax Errors

These kinds of errors fall under the “objective errors” category. They will stand out as mistakes whether the reader is familiar with the original English content or not.

The presence of spelling, grammar and syntax errors in your translation will make your content seem unprofessional and sloppy, which is – I’m sure – not the image you want associated with your business, right?

Error Type: Objective

7. Glossary & Terminology Inconsistencies

Your business has its own culture, and whether you have deliberately chosen specific terminology, or it has developed naturally, you likely have a specific way to refer to things associated with your business. When that specific, familiar terminology is not used, it can stand out, send the wrong brand message, and even feel uncomfortable.

It is just as important to put thought into the terminology you use in your translations. Maybe you’re in the business of home rentals, and you would like to market to Spanish speakers. You may want to decide between “hogar” and “casa”, which both mean “home”, but have distinctly different connotations. What do you want your readers to feel?

Once you’ve settled on the proper term, it is important to be consistent. Switching up terminology can confuse your readers and confuse your message.

Error Type: Both

8. Table of Contents, Index & Footnote Errors

Tables of contents, indexes and footnotes are internal references that are often vital to the understanding of your document. It is of the utmost importance that readers be able to refer themselves within the document to find the location of the information they seek.

Different languages will take up different amounts of space in order to say the same thing – Spanish, for example, expands by about 25% compared to English. This can sometimes mean that a section will move to a different page in the Spanish version. When this happens, the table of contents and index in the translation must be updated to reflect the new location of the information so the readers of the translated file can access the same information as the English readers just as easily.

Error Type: Objective

9. Incorrect Hyphenation & Line Breaks

Depending on the formatting of your file, it may be important to use justified text. This is a formatting choice which distributes the text evenly between the given margins of the page. In English, this often results in hyphenated words which span two lines. There are rules about where the word can be broken – for example, you wouldn’t want to put the hyphen in the middle of a syllable. It would make the text hard to read!

Foreign languages also have hyphenation and/or line break requirements which must be considered during formatting. Chinese, for example, has very few rules about where a line break may go, but one very important rule is that a line may not begin with punctuation.

Example:

Chinese Punctuation

Error Type: Objective

10. Incorrect Capitalization

Capitalization rules vary drastically from language to language. In English, proper names and titles must always be capitalized, but not much else. German, however, is an example of a language which uses quite different capitalization rules – All nouns must be capitalized in German. Not capitalizing can change the meaning of the word entirely!

Example:

GermanEnglish
essento eat
Essenfood

Error Type: Objective

11. Incorrect Spacing & Typos

Flying fingers can sometimes make mistakes. We’re only humans after all. Sometimes a space may be missed between words, or an extra space might be added where it is not needed. Or maybe a “/” will be inserted instead of a “.” due to their proximity on the keyboard.

These things are easy to catch with spellcheck, but not all languages have this feature available to them! For example, Somali has no standardized dictionary. This means that there is no spellcheck, opening the door for more of these kinds of errors to slip through.

Whether the language in question has spellcheck or not, a human proofreader is an excellent way to help avoid these kinds of errors.

Error Type: Objective

12. Incorrect Spelling of Names

The spelling of your name is intrinsic to your identity. When someone spells your name incorrectly, it can feel like a personal insult.

Name spelling is particularly tricky in translations where the source language and the target language do not share an alphabet.

For example, you may be translating a document from Arabic into English – How do you spell the name Muhammad?

It could also be Mohammad or Muhammed, or more! It is important to ensure that the names in the translations are spelled correctly according to that person’s preference.

Error Type: Both

13. Lack of Post-DTP Review

Many translations are done in a TM tool. In these software programs, a text is broken down into “segments”, which are usually sentences or phrases that the translators work on one at a time.

Example of TM segments:

English & Arabic TM Segments

Example of TM text exported to MS Word:

Arabic in MS Word

As you can see from the screenshot above (example of TM segments) from a TM tool, the linguists are working on the text out of context. Sometimes the segments are even in a different order than they appear on the page. For this reason, it is very important to have the translations reviewed after they have been formatted/typeset (example of TM text exported to MS Word).

At that stage, the linguists can see their translations in the context of the formatted document, and may catch errors or inconsistencies that they would not have noticed in the TM tool. This is also relevant for websites or applications – localization testing is very important to make sure that the translations work in context so the users have a seamless experience.

Conclusion

There are many ways to ruin a translation, and the ways they can go wrong are sometimes quite different than the ways original content can go wrong.

Everything your business shares with its target audience – both in English and in foreign languages – should be reflective of your brand message and your image.

You can avoid ruining your translations with the common translation blunders listed above by hiring professional translators, making sure that your materials are proofread, through preparation, and by being aware of the unique ways translations can be tricky.

What other translation errors have you come across?

Feel free to share your stories in the comments.

3 Types of Web Content Your Company Should Translate

Content marketing is a huge driver of business for many companies.

According to recent research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 71% of B2B marketers meet to discuss their content marketing programs at least once per month.

That number is even greater for companies with a B2C business model. Over 77% of B2C marketers use a blog as a content marketing tactic to engage their respective target audience.

The numbers are there to support a case for having a content marketing strategy. And you may already have one.

But I bet your content, just like this article, is only in English. That’s perfectly fine if that’s your target audience, which in NWI Global’s case it is.

Consider this though – you might be missing out on new audiences or under-serving your existing audience who speak a language other than English. One way to serve those audiences is by offering translated content.

Here are the three types of web content your company should translate to attract and retain a bigger audience.

1. How-to Articles & Guides

People are always looking for quick answers when searching the web. How-to articles and guides are some of the best types of content you can produce for both B2B and B2C consumers.

Your approach to how-to articles will generally include identifying a problem and listing detailed steps to a solution. Be as detailed as possible by including diagrams and pictures. Many people are visual learners and will appreciate having those resources. These visual guides are also useful in your translated content, as they are ready-to-go resources that don’t need translation.

How-to articles and guides also have a great long tail search potential, since many people are searching the web using introductions such as: “How to…”, “How do I…?” and “How do you…?” You may have already discovered this since you’re producing how-to content in English.

Weber Blog with Tips and How-tos

Now take that how-to content and translate it into Spanish or a few other languages. Out of all the Spanish speakers in U.S., there are over 78% that use the internet. Those users are most certainly looking for the same solutions as English speakers for how to effectively solve their problems.

You can be the company that meets the need of those users by providing multilingual how-to content.

Projected End Result: Better search traffic to your company’s website and more qualified leads. The satisfaction of knowing you answered someone’s question and made their day a bit easier.

2. Lists

People love lists. Especially Top 10 lists. Psychologists refer to this as a “top-10 effect,” where people lump things into round-number groups and view everything else as inferior. If you got this far in this article, you already read the first thing on my list (see 1. How-to Articles & Guides)!

Creating lists is incredibly easy if you follow the formula of introducing a topic, listing your points, and providing a conclusion. If you look on BuzzFeed, lists are some of the most popular content types that go viral.

BuzzFeed Content with Popular Lists

Why not leverage what people love to your advantage?

If you already have lists you created in English, have them translated into Spanish or other languages. Alternatively, work with a translation service company to create lists exclusive to your target audience in their language.

Projected End Result: A strong possibility of your list going viral on social media. This will create brand awareness for your company in non-English speaking markets.

3. Explainer Videos

Implementing video in your content marketing strategy can only improve the authority of your brand. But, like with all things, it has to be done right.

Explainer videos are similar to how-to articles and guides. They are used to explain something to a viewer. This is especially helpful to visual learners as you can often convey more information in a 2 to 3-minute video than you can in an article or guide.

The easiest way to localize an explainer video is by having the voiceovers transcribed and translated into other languages, and implementing them as subtitles. This is probably the most cost-effective way of doing it too.

However, if you have the budget I recommend you translate and localize everything including voiceovers, motion graphics, bumpers and captions/subtitles.

Projected End Result: Increase in brand authority among limited-English proficient audience. Beat your competitors to it since they are probably not doing it.

Things to Consider Before You Translate

Before you rush to translate your how-to articles and guides, lists and explainer videos, consider these things. They are equally as important to the entire process to provide the best user and customer experience.

1. Do some strategic planning.

Understand how translating these types of content falls into your overall marketing and localization strategy. Your company may already be translating other content such as user manuals and eLearning courses. They may simply be an extension of those efforts.

2. Use only professional human translation.

A personal blogger can get away using an automated translation plug-in, but as a business you can’t afford to do that. Quality is what you are looking for and to get it you must work with professional translators.

3. Be prepared to communicate and follow up.

Once you translate your content into other languages, you will start getting feedback and inquiries in those languages. For example, your Spanish-speaking audience will start posting comments in Spanish and perhaps even write to you as well. Have a plan in place on how you will communicate with them.

Ready to have your content translated?

If you said yes, slow down just a bit. Here is why.

Doing things spontaneously is exciting and provides an immediate reward. However, since you should be looking at content translation as an investment, I recommend planning first and foremost.

Contact a professional translation service company to help you with the planning process so you are not wasting money to produce content in other languages and not getting your envisioned results.

Conclusion

You already know that content marketing is here to stay. One way to effectively market to your target audience is by producing content such as how-to articles and guides, lists and videos.

Having that content in English is a great start, but make sure you are serving your entire audience, including those who don’t speak English. A great way to do that is to translate into other languages.

The end result will include more traffic to your company website, better customer engagement, and brand recognition coming from diverse markets.

Have you included translation and localization in your content marketing strategy?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

How Teamwork Leads to Quality Translations

Let’s say you’re planning to get some materials translated. You’re prepared to pay for professional translation services, because you understand the benefits. You’ve even found a language service company (LSC) that you trust, and you’re ready to get a quote.

However, you’re still hesitant, because you want to know with 100% certainty that you’ve received a quality translation, but you don’t personally speak the languages your content is being translated into.

How do you know the translations will be good quality?

Here’s how you can ensure your quality expectations are met.

Work as a Team

Getting quality translations is a team effort.

Teamwork

Your team should be made up of the following parties:

YOU!

Your translation vendor and linguistic team.

Your internal reviewers (this one is optional).

Now that your team is in place, here are the ways teamwork will help you get quality translations.

What You Can Do

You may be wondering how you can aid in the translation process, when you don’t even speak the languages in question.

To-Do List

Well, your role is actually in the preparation – what you send your translation vendor can set them up for success. Alternatively, if you do not prepare, your translation vendor may be fighting an uphill battle.

So what can you do?

Spell-check and proofread the source file.

Make sure it is actually the final version before you send it to your translation vendor!

Allow white space for text expansion.

Different languages take different amounts of space to say the same thing. Spanish, for example, takes 25% more space when compared to English. Whereas Chinese actually takes less space than English.

When in doubt, extra white space is your friend. If you jam every inch of the page with English text, your translation vendor will have no room to maneuver, and the translations may end up too small to read!

Eliminate extra spaces and unnecessary line-breaks.

Any qualified translation vendor will use a translation memory (TM) software program to aid with the translation process and ensure consistency in translation. These TM tools break the text into segments for translation (words, phrases, sentences, etc.).

If a line break is inserted in the middle of a sentence, that sentence will become two incomplete segments in the TM program. This can create confusion during the translation process.

Write the source file using the tone, formality, and reading level you would like your translations delivered in.

In the absence of special instructions, the translators will take their style cues from the source document. If it is written informally in English, the translators will mirror that in their translation. If you want the translations done differently than the original English document, you may need to provide special instructions.

Provide specific instructions about any expectations you have for the final product.

These instructions can include anything from export settings for print-ready PDFs, to reading levels, to fonts, etc.

Provide a glossary and style guide.

If you have translations done regularly, consider developing a glossary and style guide for your translation vendor to use. Glossaries can be monolingual (terms + definitions) to help the linguists with understanding industry-specific terms, or they can be bilingual (English term + translated term) so your linguistic team knows what your preferred translations are for specific terminology.

A style guide can help your linguistic team understand how to handle things like measurements, addresses, department names and other items in the translations.

Let your vendor know who to contact with questions.

And make sure that person is available for the duration of the project in the event that questions arise.

What Your Translation Vendor & Linguistic Team Should Do

You know that you want your translation vendor and translators to be thorough.

What to Expect

But if you’re unfamiliar with the translation process, you may not know what “thorough” means!

What can you expect?

File preparation.

In order to ensure compatibility with their translation memory software and compliance with your expectations, the translation vendor will check and prepare the file before sending it to the linguistic team.

Detailed project instructions.

Project instructions will be compiled and organized before being provided to the linguistic team. They should understand clearly what the expectations are prior to the project launch.

Translation, Editing & Proofreading (TEP).

Translations are translated, edited and proofread by a team of at least two native speakers.

Translation memory (TM).

A TM software program is used to help maintain consistency in the translations.

Typesetting/Desktop Publishing (DTP).

The typesetting portion is performed by a design team experienced in multilingual DTP. Formatting of the translations will match the original source file as closely as possible.

Post-DTP review.

The typeset files are returned to the linguistic team and a quality assurance review is performed by a native speaker.

In-house Quality Assurance (QA).

The translation vendor will perform a final in-house QA review, checking that nothing is missing, and the formatting matches.

What Your Internal Reviewers Should Do

After the translations are complete and delivered to you, you have the option to do an internal review.

Review and Feedback

If you have bilingual staff, or a community panel, you may choose to have the translations checked to make sure they work for your specific audience.

How can you and your translation vendor work together?

Check with your translation vendor.

Consult with your translation vendor ahead of time. Client internal review may be included in their pricing!

Provide feedback.

Compile your reviewers’ feedback. This can be submitted either by using track-changes in MS Word, or by using the editing/comments features in a PDF version of the translation.

Client suggestions are reviewed.

The suggested changes will be reviewed by the original linguistic team.

Responses to feedback.

The changes may be implemented right away without question if the linguists find no issue with them. However, if the changes are preferential or not advisable, you will be provided with responses and justification for the linguists’ recommendations.

Final decision.

After receiving the feedback, you will make the final decision regarding what changes to implement and which ones should be ignored.

Re-delivery.

Your translation vendor will implement the changes according to your preference.

Conclusion

Ensuring quality translations is not just the job of your translation vendor. It is a team effort from the beginning. If everyone does their part, a satisfactory translation can be delivered every time.

Remember that you are an important part of the team. To ensure translation quality of your content, you must work closely with the translation vendor, your assigned linguistic team and your internal reviewers.

Now you know the key roles each member of the team plays in the quality assurance process.

Share your questions and thoughts in the comments.

The 3 Constraints That Define a Successful Localization Project

As a buyer and consumer of language services, you have a certain expectation for quality.

What you may not know is that there are three constraints that play a role in achieving quality.

The last thing you want is to be disappointed by the translation vendor you’re working with, right?

If I were in your shoes, I certainly wouldn’t.

And if I was dissatisfied, I would even go as far as looking to establish a business relationship with another translation vendor.

But why go through the disappointment, when you can do things right from the start?

Here is how you can set yourself up for success before each localization project for your organization.

This applies to something as basic as a one-page letter that takes a day to translate, or as complicated as a large eLearning localization project that will last several months.

The 3 Constraints of Localization Projects

The 3 constraints that define a successful localization project are: scope, time and cost.

Read on to find out how they correlate and impact your expectation of quality.

1. Scope

The scope includes all work that will be done during the project.

As a project sponsor or customer, set your expectations for the project with the translation vendor you’re working with.

Project Scope

It’s critically as important to have processes in place to verify the scope once the project is completed.

There is always a chance that certain content doesn’t need to be translated or localized. Learn more about that here.

2. Time

The time component measures how long it will take to complete the project.

Your expectations of turnaround time may be different than what’s realistically possible.

Know your deadline

Your translation vendor will work with you to agree on a mutually acceptable timetable.

Defining a formal deliverables schedule is recommended. Your translation vendor may even have a delivery schedule template they can supply for this purpose.

3. Cost

The project cost is the third and final constraint of a localization project.

You have a budget to work with and any overruns can cause fiscal problems that impact your entire organization.

It’s generally a good idea to get estimates from various translation vendors.

Estimating Project Cost

However, don’t be fooled by the lowest price. Fast and cheap quality translation comes at a price that you are not ready to pay.

Lastly, don’t forget to define who can authorize changes to the budget and how the costs will be tracked.

Setting Scope, Time and Cost Targets

The most important thing you can do before approving the project with your translation vendor is set specific targets for each of the three constraints in the beginning of the project.

For example, a large eLearning localization project might have an initial scope of translating course materials into 12 languages, localizing the audio-visual components and recording multilingual voice-overs for each video.

With the help of your assigned translation project manager, you might further define the project scope to include a rough time and cost estimate, and assessments of the risk and potential payoff as high, medium or low.

The initial time estimate for this project might be three months, and the cost between $65,000 and $75,000.

You will notice that for large scale projects, the scope, time and cost targets should always be defined in ranges. Rarely does a localization project end up hitting precise targets.

Aim for the target

For small projects, your translation vendor can generally provide you with a precise time and cost estimate. Here’s how you can get a quick translation estimate from any vendor.

Understand that because localization projects involve uncertainty and limited resources, they rarely finish according to a discrete scope, time and cost goals according to the original plan.

In the end, you and your translation vendor should have an understanding to hit the target, not the bull’s eye.

How Scope, Time and Cost Relate to Each Other

You have to be ready to make trade-offs between scope, time and cost goals for the project. For example, you might need to increase the budget for the project to meet scope and time goals.

Alternatively, you might have to reduce the scope of a project to meet time and cost goals.

Changes in project scope

Ultimately, you must decide which aspect of the triple constraint is more important.

Your assigned translation project manager can make recommendations to help you with the decision.

If time is most important, you must often change the initial scope and cost goals to meet your desired turnaround time. If scope goals are most important, you may need to adjust time and cost goals.

Scope, Time and Cost in Relation to Quality

Quality considerations, including customer satisfaction, are inherent in setting the scope, time and cost goals of a localization project.

Even if your translation vendor meets the scope, time and cost goals of the project, but fails to meet quality standards or satisfy your expectations as a customer, you will perceive the project as a failure and may seek another vendor to work with.

Are you prepared to invest in quality translations?

The best way to ensure customer satisfaction and address quality expectations is through consistent communication between you and the translation vendor.

For a three-month long project, it’s not uncommon to have weekly meetings to ensure the project is going according to plan.

Your assigned translation project manager should be communicating with you throughout the project to make sure the project is meeting your expectations.

Visualizing the Triple Constraint and Quality Expectations

Here is a nice graphic to help you visualize the concepts of this article.

How would you like your translation?

Big thanks to Richard Brooks and the team at K International for putting this graphic together.

Conclusion

As a buyer and consumer of languages services, here is how you can avoid the problems that occur when your translation vendor meets the scope, time and cost goals, but loses sight of quality or customer satisfaction.

The answer is through consistent communication and good project management.

Understanding that a localization project is more than just about meeting the triple constraint of scope, time and cost will set you and your organization up for success.

Ultimately, it’s the quality and customer satisfaction that will determine if the project is successful.

Has your translation vendor met your localization project expectations?

Share your stories in the comments.

12 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Translation Company

Your company has some projects lined up for the year that will require it to communicate in more than one language.

You get on Google and search for “translation companies + insert your search criteria here”. In fact, you are probably reading this article because of a search you just did.

You get about a dozen viable options to choose from. The next step is to reach out to those translation companies and get the pricing, right?

Your gut instinct tells you to think of the service as a commodity in order to get a fair comparison and you will most likely go with the lowest price.

Because why pay more for a commodity that’s essentially the same?

The problem here is that not all translation companies sell the same thing even though on the surface they appear to.

How do you determine which company is right for you?

Do that by asking the following 12 questions. You can then compare the data to help you with your selection process.

1. Establish Expertise and Specialization

You work in a specific industry that has its own language, like the one in this example. Make sure the translation company you select understands this.

Some translation companies specialize in patent translations, whereas others focus on medical documents. If you come across a company that claims to do it all, think twice about doing business with them.

Professionals in different fields

One company can’t be a great at everything, despite their great marketing message. Your goal is to identify a translation company that specializes in your industry.

Question to Ask: What is your area of expertise and specialization?

2. Determine Linguist Credentials

There is a big difference between a bilingual individual and a professional translator. There is also a big difference between how different companies screen and qualify their translators.

Your goal here is to make sure that the company is working with seasoned professionals, some of whom may even be certified by the American Translators Association. Just like companies, professional translators specialize in specific fields. One can’t do it all!

Certified Translator

Also, keep in mind that many companies work with freelance translators as opposed to in-house employees. That should not pose any issues for you as long as the company has strict processes in place with regard to quality assurance and confidentiality.

Question to Ask: How do you screen and qualify linguists you work with?

3. Learn About the Project Process

Find out whether the company will use a standard process for all your projects and whether it can be customized per your requirements. At the very least, the process should include measurable milestones such as estimates, project work and project delivery.

Communication is especially important. You should establish a clear communication plan with the company, especially for large scale projects. One possible item to include in the communication plan is weekly status updates.

Translation ingredients

A great company should make the project process as easy as possible for you. That’s less for you to worry about, because you already have enough to do.

Question to Ask: What is your project process and will it be customized for our needs?

4. Meet the Team

When engaging a translation company, ideally you would want a dedicated account manager and project manager assigned to your account. The account manager will handle the sales and administrative tasks whereas the project manager will be responsible for all the actual project work.

Project Team

Not having a dedicated project team assigned to you can lead to frustration; especially if you have to explain yourself over and over again to people you haven’t worked with before.

Avoid the frustration by requesting a dedicated project team.

Question to ask: Will we be assigned a dedicated account manager and project manager?

5. Learn About the Technology

Depending on the scope of your project, your translation company may need significant technical infrastructure in place to complete the work. This includes both hardware and software.

If you are working with large audio and video files, bandwidth and storage are the two areas to look at immediately. Video files can take days to upload and download, which could delay your project.

Recording Studio Mixing Console

On the software side, check with the translation company to see if they can work with Adobe Creative Suite, Articulate Storyline and other applications that may be used in your industry.

Question to Ask: Do you have the technical infrastructure to support our work?

6. Specify Security and Confidentiality Standards

Your content may include sensitive information such as social security numbers, bank account numbers and HIPAA PHI. You invest significant resources in protecting that information on behalf of your clients.

Make sure that the company you are planning to work with has security compliance protocols in place to handle such information with care.

IT Security

Many U.S.-based companies work with freelance translators around the world, so if you are particular about where your data is stored and shared, be sure to clarify it with the company in advance.

Question to Ask: How do you handle confidential information?

7. Understand the Scale

Translating 1,000 words in one language is a lot easier than translating 100,000 words in ten languages. Be sure to specify the magnitude and scale of your projects to the translation company.

Supply & Demand

Like manufacturing facilities, some translation companies are suited for smaller projects and simply don’t have the resources to handle large scale assignments. You don’t want to put yourself in a position to find out that the company you just awarded the contract to can’t handle the work.

Ideally, the company you choose can demonstrate experience with similar projects either through references or case studies.

Question to Ask: What is your experience with projects similar in scope to ours?

8. Set Expectations for Quality

Find out about the company’s TEP process. Do they have one in place?

TEP stands for Translation, Editing and Proofreading. Those three steps are essential to every translation project.

The translation part is completed by one person. The editing and proofreading are done by another.

Ideally, all three steps should be done by different people. At the minimum, there should be at least two.

Are you prepared to invest in quality translations?

Think about the big picture and how the TEP process will integrate within your project. Other quality assurance milestones may be needed along the way such as post-DTP review, focus group feedback and in-country localization testing.

Question to Ask: What does your quality assurance process look like and how will you integrate it with our needs?

9. Expect Consistency

I try to be as consistent as possible in all articles that I write. Inevitably, I will make mistakes along the way and use different words to describe similar concepts.

Consistency issues are magnified during the translation process, especially if they are not caught and corrected during TEP and QA steps.

Luckily, there is translation technology that can be leveraged to help ensure your translated message is consistent.

Kilgray memoQ Translation Memory

With the help of translation memory, once a word is translated a certain way it can then be used (leveraged) throughout all your content in a consistent matter. A terminology list and a glossary are also useful in this area.

Not all companies have in-house translation technology. Choose the one that does if consistency is important to you.

Question to Ask: Will you start a dedicated translation memory and terminology list for our project?

10. Be Ready for Changes

There are two scenarios you will come across working with translation companies. They include changing something during the project and changing something after the project has been completed.

Ideally, you want to avoid change orders during the project. Depending on the changes, the project cost may go up and the delivery timeline may be extended.

You always have to be ready for the unexpected and your translation company should be too. Clarify the company’s change order process and any risks associated with it.

Changes in project scope

The second scenario can usually be classified as a project update. Changing something after the initial project is completed is basically starting a new project to implement those changes. Here is how you can save costs doing that.

Question to Ask: What is your change order process?

11. Get It In Writing

In my experience, estimates for small projects (less than $25,000) usually end up equaling the final invoice amount. The turnaround time is easier to estimate and plan for in small project as well.

For large scale projects that require ongoing translation work and a commitment of several months, the estimates may not be as precise. This is largely due to changes in scope during the project.

How to get a Quick Translation Estimate from any Vendor

If you are getting multiple bids for a large scale project and one bid seems very low compared to the others, it’s probably too good to be true.

The chances are that the company bidding on it didn’t understand the full scope of your project.

Question to Ask: How accurate are your estimates with regard to cost and turnaround time?

12. Ask for References

Companies are really great at talking about themselves. They even have marketing budgets for that purpose.

Don’t be seduced by their marketing message – ask for client references!

References

Three references should do. Contact those references by phone and email, and ask about their experience with the company you are thinking of working with.

Question to Ask: What do others say about you?

Conclusion

Now that you have the answers to the above questions, it’s fair to consider the price. It’s certain that some prices will be higher than others.

Instead of choosing strictly based on price, you can now form an opinion on the value behind each estimate.

You can determine what’s valuable to you based on how your selected pool of companies responds to these questions.

This list of questions is by no means all-inclusive.

However, it will get you started in choosing the right translation company for your project. You may even find yourself adding your own questions to the list once you start the procurement process.

Feel free to share additional questions and your feedback in the comments section.

How to get a Quick Translation Estimate from any Vendor

As a consumer of language services, you often don’t think about translating your documents until the last minute, right?

The good news is that you are not alone.

If you only require occasional translation services, it may come to you as an afterthought in your daily routine, as it does for many others. Once you’re ready to go, you will most likely contact several translation vendors for a quote and go with the one that best meets your project requirements.

As you scramble to get those quotes in from the translation vendors, keep the following points in mind so you can get a fair service comparison. These are the things you need to know to get a quick translation estimate from any vendor.

1. Have Your Files Ready

Emailing a simple description of your translation project won’t get you a quick estimate. Your translation vendor will most likely ask for the files that you need translated.

If you have the files ready, send them to your vendor at the time of your request. That will save you a few back-and-forth emails.

Source files for translation

To make things even more efficient, have your files ready in an editable format such as Microsoft Word. If you compare the same document that was created in MS Word to a scanned PDF version, the MS Word version will almost always cost less to translate.

Some files may contain confidential content. Such files should only be sent through a secure file transfer medium. Clarify your preferred file transmission method with your translation vendor before sending anything.

Your Task: Get access to editable versions of the source files and be ready to send them to your translation vendor.

2. Know Your Audience

You should know a few basic facts about your target audience (end users). The most essential piece of information your translation vendor will need is the language of your end users.

Know your audience

For example, if your end users are immigrants from Mexico that currently live in Seattle, the chances are good that Spanish is their native language.

There are a few cases where you need specify the language and script in more detail. The best example of such a case is the Chinese language.

Translating into Chinese is not as simple as translating into Korean, for example. When it comes to Chinese and a few other languages, you have to consider various spoken dialects like Mandarin and Cantonese and written scripts that go with them – in the case of Chinese, you’d be choosing between Simplified and Traditional characters.

If you do not already know what your end users need, your translation vendor will work with you to determine the best script for your end users.

Your Task: Specify the languages/scripts you need your documents translated into.

3. Know Your Deadline

Since you are already looking for a quick translation estimate, it’s probably true that you need the documents translated quickly. If time is not of the essence to you, you should still have a pretty good idea of your ideal translation turnaround time.

Know your deadline

On average a translator can translate about 2,500 words per day. Add proofreading and quality assurance to the mix, you’re looking at about 2 to 3 days turnaround time for small projects for common languages.

Languages of lesser diffusion, or projects which require advanced typesetting, may require a buffer of at least a day or two.

If you are really in a time crunch, your translation vendor may offer you an option for expedited delivery. As is the case with shipping parcels, be prepared to pay a rush fee for a faster turnaround time.

Your Task: Provide your turnaround time expectations when requesting an estimate.

4. Sample Email Template

Now that you have your source files ready in an editable format, know the languages you need them translated into and have a clear deadline in mind, contact your translation vendor for an estimate.

If you can send your files by email, that’s great! To make things even easier for you, here is a template you can use to request a quick translation estimate.

Simply copy & paste the text below into an outgoing email, customize the bold fields, attach your source files and click Send.

Hello!

I would like a translation estimate for the attached documents.

Here are the project details:

  • Translate from Language into Language
  • Translated files to be delivered by Date/Time

Please send your estimate to me no later than Date/Time. Do not start the translation until you receive an approval.

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Your Name

You can also download this template in a Microsoft Outlook-friendly format here.

Your Task: Simplify getting translation estimates by using an email template.

5. Estimate Response Time

After sending your estimate request to a translation vendor, you should receive an acknowledgement within a few hours. You may even receive an estimate within that time-frame as well.

There are no formal industry standards for how quickly a company should provide you with an estimate. However, for a basic project you should expect to receive an estimate within 24 hours.

Get a translation estimate quickly

I’d recommend you pay close attention to how long it takes for a vendor to acknowledge your request and provide you with an estimate. It will set a tone on how that vendor will treat you going forward.

If you are a serious translation buyer, you should be treated as such. If it takes a vendor more than 24 hours to even acknowledge your request, I would recommend you think twice about doing business with them.

Finally, the estimate you receive should be easy to understand and include all of the relevant data used to calculate the translation price.

Your Tasks: Make sure you receive a timely estimate and that it makes sense to you. Don’t forget to approve the project!

Conclusion

Your source documents are ready and now you need them translated. You are inclined to get estimates from various translation vendors to determine which one meets your needs.

You need to receive the estimates quickly, so you can make an informed decision and use your allocated translation budget. Getting translation estimates quickly can be easy.

Remember to gather your files, clarify the language of your end users and determine how quickly you will need the translations completed. These are the things you need to get a quick translation estimate from any vendor.

Share your thoughts in the comments!

10 Best Tools for Creating & Managing Multilingual Content

There is a technical side when it comes to creating & managing content. This is nothing new to you, since you already create great content in English, right? You also know that the tools you create your content with play a big role in your overall content strategy.

You’re now ready to take your English content and translate it into another language. Or perhaps you’re looking to create multilingual content from scratch. As with any project, you need the right tools for the job to make your life easier.

If you already have access to these tools in your organization, that’s terrific! If not, you should consider getting them if you plan on taking your English content and making it available in other languages.

What I will do is provide you with a list of the best tools you can use for creating & managing multilingual content – from basic to advanced – along with tips to help you in your business process.

10 Best Tools for Creating & Managing Multilingual Content

As a busy professional, you can’t waste time. This is why you should learn about the best tools for creating multilingual content and implement them in your organization. Here are the tools:

1. Email

You need to communicate with your translation vendor and email is by far the best way to do this. You can send your English content as an attachment and specify all of the project details in the body of the email. Once translated, the content will be delivered back to you by email.

This makes email by far the most essential tool you will need for creating and managing your multilingual content, as it allows you to communicate with your project team quickly and efficiently.

Email to translator with an attachment

Outlook is a great email tool. I use it on a daily basis.

Additionally, written communication is vital for project record keeping. If a question ever comes up about project instructions or the project needs to be revisited for updating or revisions in the future, written communication is the best and clearest way to retrace the project’s life cycle.

However, as great as it is, email is not meant for all communication. If you need to transmit files that are large in size or contain confidential information, email is not the best way to do it. Use FTP or secure email in such cases.

Pro Tip: Many email servers block ZIP file attachments. To avoid having your attachment blocked, change the ZIP file extension to something else that won’t get blocked or filtered out, like ABC. Then let the recipient know to rename the ABC extension back to ZIP in order to open the file.

2. FTP

FTP, also known as File Transfer Protocol, is a great way to transmit large files that cannot be sent by email due to size restrictions. It’s also great for secure file transfer. If you don’t have one set up on your end, don’t worry. Most translation vendors know how to use FTP and can set you up with an account on their end.

FileZilla FTP Client

FileZilla FTP can be used to transmit files that are too large for email.

Once you finish transmitting and receiving all the files via FTP, don’t forget to delete them from the server. This will free up hard drive space for more files to be transmitted later.

Pro Tip: You can now set up cloud-based portals to transmit files securely. While they’re not true FTP sites, they pretty much accomplish the same thing by allowing you to transmit large files. ShareFile does just that for a small monthly fee.

3. Notepad

Notepad is one of my personal favorites. It’s a very simple tool that can open just about any file out there and display its contents. If you just need to view and edit plain text without any fancy formatting, Notepad is the way to go. You can basically view and edit files in their raw form without worrying about losing markup. Very basic, easy to use and comes standard with almost every operating system out there.

I also use Notepad for real-time project notes as I am working and as a copy/paste staging area. There are other practical uses you can find for Notepad since it’s doesn’t consume many computing resources and is very minimalistic in functionality. I’d be curious to hear how you use it.

Unicode Chinese HTML file open in Notepad++

Traditional Chinese characters inside an HTML file opened in Notepad++

Pro Tip: For advanced file editing, opt for Notepad++. What you get with Notepad++ is usability and readability of files that you don’t get with a standard Notepad application. There are also many options, including encoding for foreign language fonts.

4. Unicode Fonts

If you’re going create any multilingual content, stick with Unicode fonts. When you’re creating content in English, you probably won’t think twice about the technical aspect of the fonts you’re using. You’re more concerned with their appearance and how your target audience will perceive them, right?

The good news is that many common fonts are Unicode, so you are in good shape! You can find an extensive list of Unicode fonts here.

Here is why it’s important that you use Unicode fonts for multilingual content: Each font character has a unique number associated with it which conforms to an international standard for all systems. This makes it easy to distribute all sorts of content across different platforms, programs and languages. Whereas with non-Unicode fonts, you don’t have this flexibility.

Table of Various Unicode Characters

Description

Latin Capital Letter A
Cyrillic Capital Letter Be
Arabic Letter Zah
Hiragana Letter Small A

Unicode Number

U+0041
U+0411
U+0638
U+3041

HTML Code

A
Б
ظ
ぁ

Character

A
Б
ظ

Pro Tip: A Unicode number follows this syntax: U+####, where #s are replaced with variable digits and letters associated with a specific character. Here is a cross-reference table you can use. It shows various characters and their corresponding Unicode numbers, and HTML equivalents.

5. Microsoft Office

Word, Excel and PowerPoint are the premier applications of the Microsoft Office suite and have been for decades. The chances are good that you already have them installed.

When you’re ready to create your content, just like I did with this blog article, you are most likely to do it in Word. You will then have the ability to export the text to another application if needed.

Almost all translators and language translation companies work with Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These applications are also designed with other languages in mind, so font compatibility and usage is rarely an issue.

Perhaps the most critical part of all is that the files you save in these applications can be edited. It’s much easier to translate content when you can easily edit it. If your content can’t be edited (such as a scanned PDF file), it has to be recreated from scratch in an editable format, adding unnecessary costs to the project.

Microsoft Office for Multilingual Content Creation

Word, Excel & PowerPoint can all be used to create and edit multilingual content.
Image Source: Office.com

Pro Tip: If you feel confident you can make edits to translated content yourself, you can do so by enabling multilingual keyboard support in Windows. Here’s how to do that. Although, I’d recommend you have your translation vendor with handle this part.

6. PDF Reader/Creator

Portable Document Format (PDF) files are used everywhere in business to present documents and other content in a quick and efficient matter. What makes PDF great is that, like Unicode fonts, it’s cross-compatible across different platforms and operating systems.

There is no doubt you or someone you know “printed a document to a PDF” before. It’s very easy to do with Adobe Acrobat, perhaps the most popular PDF Reader/Creator software on the market.

PDF files are great for showcasing your multilingual documents once they’re created. Content created in Word, for example, might be difficult to share with a U.S.-based audience.

How many people do you know who have fonts for Amharic or Khmer installed on their computers?

I bet not many.

But if you save your multilingual content in PDF format, even readers who don’t have a specific font installed on their computer can usually see the text displayed correctly, as it is generally preserved in PDF format.

PDF is a good way to save costs as well. Instead of printing thousands of user manuals in different languages, you can now provide digital copies to your customers in PDF format.

Apple iPhone User Manual in Spanish

Apple iPhone User Manual displayed in Adobe Acrobat. When was the last time you saw a printed copy of one?

Pro Tip: In case you do end up having trouble viewing non-English text in a PDF file, there’s a way to fix that. You can do so by embedding the fonts in a PDF file upon creating it. Just ask your translation vendor to do this for you.

7. Adobe Creative Cloud

If you’re thinking of creating great visual content and anything that requires advanced formatting, Adobe InDesign and Illustrator are a must. These two applications are now more accessible than ever before, through the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

They’re also great when it comes to supporting different languages and character sets, which is why you’re here, right?

Japanese Translation inside Adobe InDesign

A brochure that was translated into Japanese and typeset in Adobe InDesign

For your next brochure or user manual, I’d recommend skipping Microsoft Publisher – and I’m a fan of Microsoft. It’s simply not robust enough to handle the needs of multilingual content. Go with Adobe InDesign for publishing and layout, and Illustrator for graphics.

Pro Tip: When working on lengthy content, write it in MS Word and then import it into InDesign. Here is a tutorial on how to do that. Also, be prepared to provide the entire InDesign package to your translation vendor. The package includes all fonts and linked files.

8. Translation Memory

Unless you work in a large organization with its own localization department, you probably won’t need to have a translation memory system (TMS) in-house.

However, when you engage a translation vendor to work on your translation project, make sure they’re using a TMS.

Kilgray memoQ Translation Memory

Translated content exported from memoQ TMS in a bilingual table.

Since quality is important to you, a TMS is a must-have tool in your multilingual content creation process. It tracks and leverages previously translated material, and helps to maintain quality and consistency throughout your content. Inconsistencies in translation can lead to customer confusion, and it goes downhill from there.

Pro Tip: If you decide to implement a TMS in your organization’s localization department, give memoQ a try. This tool is easy enough to use for beginners and has capabilities for most advanced users.

9. WordPress

As of January 2015, WordPress is by far the most popular content management system in the world. And it’s one of the best ways to showcase your digital content on the web.

You already learned about Unicode fonts in this article. WordPress leverages the Unicode standard to make multilingual content creation as easy as possible.

Creating a WordPress Blog Post

This blog and website are both powered by WordPress.

There are plenty of other great content management systems out there, such as Joomla and Drupal. From the ease-of-use perspective and ongoing support, WordPress is the way to go.

Pro Tip: Avoid free translation plugins for WordPress. Always have a professional linguist translate your content. Here is what happens when you play it cheap.

10. Social Media

Your multilingual content won’t do you any good if your target audience is not exposed to it. Social media is a great way to spread the word about your content and engage your audience. But before you use Facebook, Twitter or any other social networks, make sure they’re right for you.

Don’t waste your time promoting multilingual content on random social networks if you are not certain people will get your message. Communicating via social media with your audience is important, but must be done right.

Some good examples of well executed multilingual social media can be found here.

Pro Tip: Create dedicated social media communities for specific languages and cultures, like McDonald’s did here. Be prepared to communicate with your customers in their languages.

Conclusion

You’ve now learned about the tools you need to create and manage multilingual content, and some practical use cases associated with them. Depending on the size of your business and the type of content you create, it may not be critical you have access to all of them, but I highly recommend you use at least some.

For project communication, you have email and FTP. For multilingual content creation, you have Notepad, Unicode Fonts, Microsoft Office, PDF Reader/Creator and Adobe Creative Cloud. If you can live without one tool, it’s the TMS, since your translation vendor should be using one on their end. You are now ready to use WordPress and Social Media to publish your multilingual content and share it with your multicultural audience.

Now that you know which 10 tools to use for creating multilingual content, you can apply them in practice within your organization.

What are your experiences with these tools? Do you have more to add to the list?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

7 Documents All Health Care Providers Should Have Translated

As a health care provider, you already know that you may be required by law to provide language access to your patients. The cost of providing interpreters is already part of your budget, right?

You might as well leverage it to provide a better patient experience and reduce your risk exposure.

A good way to do this is to have certain documents translated into the languages spoken by your patients. I will share my experience with you in helping hospitals and clinics provide translated content for their patients.

You will also be able to download several templates that were translated into Spanish for use in your practice. Read on to find out more!

For those of you in a hurry, download the templates now by clicking here and comeback when you have time to read the article.

Narrow down the languages

Before you hire a company or a translator to translate your health care documents, figure out your most frequently requested languages. I bet Spanish is probably your top language other than English.

According to Pew Research, by 2020 there will be 41 million Hispanic Spanish speakers in the United States, and not all of them speak English.

Hispanic Spanish Speakers in the U.S.

Translation can get expensive as you add more documents and languages. If you are going to have your documents translated into just one language, I’d recommend you choose Spanish.

Here is more on how translation pricing works.

Gather your documents

As you get ready to have your documents translated, you should first gather them all together. The last thing you want to do is take a paper copy of a document, scan it in and send it off to your translation vendor.

That scanned copy is most definitely going to be low quality and will need to be retyped.

Avoid scanning documents when possible

And retyping leads to additional costs.

What you should do is provide your translation vendor with the documents in an editable format such as MS Word. Editable files are much easier to work with.

Editable files such as MS Word are the way to go

Working with editable files also helps maintain quality and consistency, and reduce overall cost.

Contact your translation vendor

Since you have the editable files, you can simply email them to your translation vendor. In your email, specify what language you want them translated into and your turnaround time requirements. Your vendor will provide you with a cost and time estimate to complete the project.

Once the translation has been completed, the translated documents will be emailed back to you. You can then start using them in your health care organization.

Recommended list of documents for translation

I’ve worked with dozens of health care clients in the past decade and helped them translate hundreds of documents. As a result, I am providing you with a narrowed down list of most popular ones.

Here are the documents all health care providers should have translated.

1. Patient Information Form

This is one of the most essential forms you should use in your practice. It captures all basic health information about the patient that you can then input into the electronic health record (EHR).

Your front desk staff will give this form to the patient to fill out before the appointment is scheduled to start. If the patient speaks Spanish, it will just make it that much easier for him or her to fill out the form.

Patient Information Form

The patient information form may include the following elements: patient’s contact info, medical history and changes since their last visit with a doctor. You can get as detailed as you need, but I’d recommend keeping this form limited to two pages.

2. Patient Rights & Responsibilities

This should also be a fairly short document. It includes the rights your patients have when visiting your practice as well as their responsibilities to you.

Remember that one of those rights is having an interpreter available at no cost to the patient.

Language access in Spanish

I’ve included a sign for your convenience that you can print and place near your reception area that will make it easier for the patient to know that interpreter services are available.

You can download it with the rest of the templates.

3. Consent and Assent Forms

Your patients have the right to consent to treatment. They also have the right to refuse treatment. In many cases, you may be required by law or corporate policy to have such decisions documented.

Some of the common consent and assent forms include:

  1. Release of Information
  2. Consent to Treat
  3. Consent to Procedure
  4. Consent to Immunization

If your patients don’t understand what they are consenting to, it does not do you any good having consent forms to begin with.

Have your consent and assent forms translated to keep your patients informed.

4. Patient Instructions

Your patients will need instructions that they should follow after they visit with you and perhaps even before their next visit.

For some procedures, such as a colonoscopy, one has to prepare. He or she does that by following your instructions.

Patient Instructions

In physical therapy, you may have just treated someone for a sports–related injury. That patient now needs instructions for what to do and what to avoid in order for his or her treatment to be effective.

Translate those patient instructions and give them to your patients.

5. History Questionnaires and Progress Notes

This is something that you may or may not need translated. For history questionnaires, you can write down the answers provided to you by the patient with the help of an interpreter.

As you interview the patient, the interpreter will relay the information between you and the patient in English and your patient’s language. Your task is to write down the information in English.

Things get a bit tricky with progress notes. Let’s say your patient presents you with progress notes from Mexico.

Those progress notes are handwritten in Spanish. There could be critical health information in those notes and you should have them translated from Spanish into English.

Handwritten progress notes are hard to read

Handwritten text is difficult enough to read. Handwriting done by a doctor or nurse in Spanish is even more difficult.

Scan those progress notes into a PDF and send them off to your translation vendor to have them translated (this is the only time it’s appropriate to scan your documents).

Your vendor will provide you with a translation in an easy-to-read, typed-up document.

6. Missed Appointment Policy

Everyone hates untimely cancellations and no-shows. It’s a huge waste of time for everyone, including the staff at your practice. In this case, time also equals money.

If your patient doesn’t show up for an appointment, you lose money. Additionally, the interpreter will expect to be compensated in such occurrences.

Medical appointment schedule

To mitigate patients missing their appointments, many health care providers implement a missed appointment policy. According to the American Medical Association, it is ethical for health care providers to charge patients for missed appointments.

However, your patients must know of this policy in advance.

Have your missed appointment policy translated and provide it to your patients so they understand the consequences of missing appointments without providing you with sufficient notice.

7. Patient Financial Responsibility Waiver

All citizens and legal residents of the United States are now required to have health insurance, or face a penalty. I bet most of your patients are insured, with the exception of those few that prefer to pay cash.

Having the ability to bill your patient’s insurance for your services is great. Of course, until the claim is denied and you’re in an awkward spot having to contact your patient with the bad news.

Medical bills

Clear this up in advance by having your patients sign off on a financial waiver. This will cover you in the event insurance doesn’t cover a certain medical procedure or refuses to pay for your services for one reason or another.

By communicating this information to your patients in advance and having them sign a financial waiver protects you. You now have an ability try and collect from your patients directly.

Free Templates to Get You Started

The American College of Physicians has many great patient care and office forms you can download here. With the permission of the ACP, NWI Global went ahead and translated some of these forms into Spanish.

This is great news for you since you can start utilizing these forms without any additional overhead cost for translation.

Click Here to Download the ACP Patient Care and Office Forms in Spanish

These are just general templates, so if you need to customize them, make sure you work with your translation vendor to do that. You can also reach out to us for assistance.

Conclusion

Providing interpreters for your patients isn’t enough. You should also provide them with written content that’s been translated into their languages. You now have a good starting point and a list of recommended documents to have translated.

By doing this, you are going to improve patient satisfaction. You will also reduce your risk of not being in compliance with Title VI and other regulations.

It’s true that translating documents will cost you, but in the long run the payoff will be immeasurable.

What other documents can you think of that need to be translated for your practice?

Share your thoughts in the comments.