8 top tips for preparing online content for translation

27th June 2016

Emily Robertshaw

Based on our experience providing high-quality website translations to companies in a variety of industries, we’ve compiled our 8 top tips for preparing your content for translation. Whether you’re writing your content from scratch or tweaking it to help with the translation process we hope you’ll find this a useful resource.


1. Keep your content plain and simple

When preparing your content, use plain words. For example, rather than using the phrase ‘prior to’, use ‘before’ and rather than ‘necessitate’ use ‘need’.

You should stick to short and simple sentences where possible. Using a basic ‘subject’, ‘verb’, ‘object’ sentence structure will improve readability in English, which will lead to clear, understandable translations.


2. Use consistent terminology

In addition to using plain words, make sure you use them consistently. Using too many synonyms for the same idea can reduce the clarity of your message and also the consistency of the translations.


3. Check the length of your copy

When you’re writing, bear in mind that translations may expand or contract in size depending on the language. For example, when English is translated into German, your copy can expand by up to 35%. This means you need to leave enough white space for the translated content to fit.

Find out more about expansion and contraction factors


4. Avoid culturally-specific references

Be sure to avoid cultural references where possible as these could be lost in translation or even considered offensive in the target culture. This includes idioms, jokes and other types of humour both in your main copy and in your graphics. Keep your copy culturally neutral.


5. Avoid unnecessary abbreviations and acronyms

Where possible, use full words such as ‘application’ rather than ‘app’ to ensure there are no misunderstandings in translation. Also, be aware that acronyms can have different meanings in different languages, so you either need to explain what they mean within your copy or provide a glossary to your Language Services Provider.


6. Provide reference material

It’s always extremely useful to send reference material to translators. This includes further information about your company and products and also, if known, any terminology you prefer in the target languages or if not, any previous approved translations.


7. Always have SEO in mind

If you’ve compiled a long list of keywords, which you’ll include in your content, send them to the translators. They’ll then find and list the most appropriate keywords in their language and will be able to keep them in mind while they translate.

We also highly recommend setting up separate websites for each language with unique urls. Search engines can’t click on a translate button on your website, so having all of your translated pages separate will really help with SEO.


8. Don’t forget about your social media content

When creating social media content for translation you should also be aware of the following:

Spatial restrictions

How much space do you have for blogs, posts and tweets? When you’re writing for each platform bear in mind the contractions and expansion factors we mentioned earlier. In particular, think carefully when writing tweets as Twitter’s 140-character limit still needs to be adhered to in other languages.

Cultural differences

Will your fun, light-hearted social media campaigns work well in other cultures. Think about this when you’re writing and if necessary, think of culturally neutral ideas for other countries. Also consider which hashtags will work and whether you’ll need to see advice from your translators.


As a professional language service provider, we’ll be happy to look through your content and flag up any issues before you proceed with translation. Find out more about our website translation services here or call us on 08450 345677

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