Technical document translation is one of the most requested types of translation services. A technical document is a “how to” document that typically explains how to operate, maintain, or create a product. Technical documents are generally created to target a specific audience, and depending on the reader you are targeting, there is often a need to provide the content in multiple languages.
When it comes to translating your technical documents into additional languages, you’ll want to consult an expert. Hiring a language service provider who has translators with expertise in your industry and subject matter will allow the translation of your technical document to be as effective as the original version.
There are literally dozens of different types of technical documents. Here we discuss nine categories of technical documents that are most often translated.
1. User Guides
User guides contain instructions for installing, using and troubleshooting products or services. User manuals accompany software, hardware, electronics, appliances, devices, instruments and equipment. User guides are often translated into languages spoken in countries or regions where targeted users or consumers are located. When translated accurately, user guides help provide precise messaging to all users, and decreasing frustration and user challenges. Translating your user guide into additional languages may even be a legal requirement specified by a particular country’s laws. Make sure to review the laws of the countries in which you intend on selling your product.
2. Maintenance Manuals
A maintenance manual is a technical communication document intended to provide the information necessary to maintain machinery or systems. A maintenance manual may include a definition of the support environment, roles, and responsibilities of maintenance personnel and the regular activities essential to support the system’s successful operation. Consistent use of key terminology is of the utmost importance when translating a maintenance manual. Therefore, you’ll want to work with your translation vendor before your project begins to establish a glossary with the unique industry-specific technical terms used in your project, and determine the most appropriate corresponding translation for each of these terms. This will ensure that all terminology is translated consistently throughout your maintenance manual.
3. Instruction Manuals
An instruction manual is a traditional way of providing assistance to your users. It can be distributed in a printed form (a booklet or book) or digitally. Usually, an instruction manual includes installation procedures, a guide on how to use your product or service, and licensing and contact information for technical support. You’ll want to work with your language vendor to make sure that they have translators that are native speakers with demonstrated subject matter expertise in your field and industry. That way the translation of the technical document is accurate, high-quality, and culturally appropriate for the users and markets you are targeting.
4. Handbooks as a Form of Technical Document Translation
Handbooks are extremely useful in today’s competitive business environment and are a mainstay in technical document translation. Having operational and employee handbooks translated into the languages that your employees speak, and localized to their specific locations in the world, can increase productivity and unify corporate culture across a diverse set of employees, both locally and internationally. When planning the translation of your handbook, remember to allocate enough time for the project. Your language services provider can help you understand the steps needed, and how long each will take. A quality vendor will assign you a project manager to ensure your final translation is of the highest quality, and that your experience is smooth and worry free.
5. eLearning Courses & Trainings
eLearning refers to training or education delivered online through a computer or a digital device. It can be used for a number of educational reasons. One major use of eLearning is to train partners on the technicalities of a product to increase both adoption and retention. eLearning is composed of training modules consisting of videos, presentation slides and technical documents. With eLearning translation you will want to team up with a vendor that can handle not only written text, but also audio and video content. You will want to ensure that your vendor can competently provide voiceover and subtitling services as needed. Check with your vendor to confirm that they offer the full suite of translation services you need. This will create seamless translation across all types of media and content.
6. API Documentation
Application Program Interface (API) documentation is a technical support material, containing instructions about how to effectively use and integrate with an API. An API is usually supported with tutorials and examples. Translating your API documentation allows users of different languages from around the globe to better adopt your API technology and more easily interact with your systems. You’ll want to work with a translation vendor that hires linguists who are also subject matter experts in your industry and software systems. This will ensure higher quality translations of your API documentation.
7. Webpages & Websites
Translating and localizing the webpages of a website is essential for companies, business and individuals who want to market and sell their products internationally as well as better their domestic audiences. Translating your website can also build consumer confidence in your product. A study published in Harvard Business Review found that more than seventy percent of consumers require information in their own language before making a purchase.1
Whether it’s product descriptions, frequently asked questions, product specs, pricing information, testimonials or corporate history, there is tremendous value in translating your website into new languages. You’ll want to work with a language translation company that is experienced in website translation. At the beginning of your project, you’ll want to communicate with your project manager who your target audience is. This will allow your translation company to to localize your content accurately and appropriately.
8. Press Releases
Press Releases are essential for announcing new products or developments within your company. Whether promoting a new product, announcing an organizational milestone, or sharing accomplishments, there is tremendous value in translating your company’s press releases. When you translate a press release into new languages you have the opportunity to reach new audiences. When translating this kind of technical document you’ll want to work with a language translation company that not only has experience translating press releases, but also employs quality linguists who are familiar with your industry. Their experience will help grab the attention of your readers while accurately preserving your original message.
Translating a patent application into another language allows for pertinent invention information to be accessed by international audiences. Great technical skill is necessary to translate complex industry jargon and legal patent language, therefore you will want to work with a language translation company with experience in patent translation and with linguists who have experience in your particular industry. This will ensure that your patent is easily understood and isn’t unnecessarily delayed in foreign markets.
1 Harvard Business Review. “72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language”. 2012. https://hbr.org/2012/08/speak-to-global-customers-in-