Speak only English but have a multilingual job to get out the door? Talk about stress! You must be wondering how you’re going to pull it off.

We have some pointers to share. They’ll raise a few important flags and make sure you touch all bases between now and your deadline.

First, decide which languages

It’s not enough to say “I need this in Chinese.” Chinese for which audience? Mainland China? Hong Kong? Singapore? Expatriates in North America? Like with any communication project, knowing your target audience is very important.

The English spoken in Toronto is not the same as in New Delhi or Cape Town. The French in Montreal is different from the French in Paris. And Brazilian Portuguese is almost a language unto itself. So before you tell the translator you need something “in Spanish,” make sure they know whether it’s for Mexico City or Madrid. And yes, if it’s “for everybody,” tell the translator and they’ll adjust to make the text as international as possible.

Second, lay the groundwork

There are important steps to take before you get started:

  1. Finalize your English text first. If you don’t, costs could spiral needlessly—and you could go crazy coordinating multiple versions in multiple languages.
  2. Make sure all promotional concepts are adaptable. A slogan could work well in one language but not in another, so you’re best to run things past an expert before it’s too late.
  3. Decide which parts need translating. There may be sections that apply to only one language group. Check carefully.
  4. Pull together all reference materials that can help the translator—pictures, background information, previous work. This will make things faster and more accurate.
  5. Also prepare a brief for your translator on such things as target audience, space limitations, intended media, visual context, etc.
  6. Go through your text to see if anything needs to be explained, such as acronyms or in-house terminology. You’ll avoid endless interruptions (for you) and hours of grief (for the translator).

Third, pick your translator

This is easier if you’re translating into only one language, but take extra care no matter what. One important rule to remember is that you need a professional translator, someone with training and experience in the field. In other words, not you, not your bilingual sister-in-law, not the French teacher at school, and certainly not Google Translate.

If you know a freelancer and know for certain you can trust their work, this may be an option. Ask for references and ask who edits their work, because the last thing you want is only one set of eyes on your text. Also ask yourself if you have the time to handle this personally.

Your best bet is to work with a professional translation company like TRSB, where a single project manager coordinates all your requirements, no matter how many languages. TRSB follows strict ISO-certified procedures and works with validated and preapproved linguists in each language pair. Our multilingual division is specially equipped to handle complex international jobs.

Fourth, perform a final QC

You can’t be expected to read and understand everything you get back, but you can at least make sure that everything’s there. Count the paragraphs if only that!

Also have the text spot-checked in-house if you’re set up for that, but make sure the person doing so is a qualified linguist. Professionally editing a text in another language is not the same as knowing how to converse in it.

If you’re having the texts printed or posting them online, request a final proofread. Layout mistakes are easy to make, particularly if your graphic design people do not speak the language. And for any last-minute changes, no matter how small, check back with the translator—we have seen so many errors slip through over the years when this wasn’t done.

You did it!

Congratulations—everything ran like clockwork! By planning ahead and following this important advice, you’re now a step ahead of the competition and ready to take on the world. So why not sit back, relax, and have a look at our blog article on all the benefits you’ll now be reaping by talking to people in their own language.