What is a Styleguide?

Example of Style guide

Translator style guides aren’t a new invention. In fact, they’ve been used for centuries. To this day, journalists still refer to their Associated Press style guide to know how to reference or write out certain words or terms. So, it is plain to see that translator guides have stood the test of time and prove to be important in many fields. But why are they so important to your business? One of the biggest parts of a business, besides its customers, is its brand definition.

A brand is what makes a company a company. If you look at some of the most recognizable brands in the world, you will notice they are recognized by their name, logo, and tagline just to name a few brand identifiers. Most successful companies are meticulous in maintaining brand guidelines across the board. When you are looking to expand your business through localization, you will find that as your marketing department is writing content for your company’s brand, you may need to develop or expand on your brand guide when localizing to another language. Maintaining the integrity of the brand fully can prove difficult without a few guides in place intended for the translators. That’s where translator style guides come in.

In this article, you will learn what translator guides are, why they’re important, and how to create your own translation style guide.Translator style guide, sometimes called a translator manual are guides that are put into place so that a translator can keep a company’s branding consistent when working with its content. Your company may already have a guide definition which includes visual aspects such as logos examples and aspects of trademarked logos, product labeling, patents, company processes, stationaries, letterheads and cosmetic aspects. Franchises will naturally have extensive documentation regarding branding which would also include business processes and interior design where relevant.A translator style guide, however, is focused on the linguistic aspects, how your brand ‘speaks’ and does not include cosmetic information related to graphic design. In these guidelines, you will decide how you want your company is referred to throughout your materials.

In the style guide, you can also note the target audience, product terminology and industry or company jargon, tone of the writing, locale-specific requirements like date and time format, grammar and language, and other reference materials that will help guide the translators. Style guides can also decide if you will keep acronyms and the names of your services the same.
It would include details and best practices on whether or not geographic areas, units, measurements should be translated. Different locale uses different measurements e.g. metric system or the imperial system for weights and distances, and currencies, e.g. should it be converted or kept as originally written or with conversion with parenthesis.

A Styleguide can also include instructions regarding character restrictions i.e. for software UI translation with approved acronyms or a set number of allowed characters that can be populated in the interface. This type of information is critical for the translators to have on hand prior to starting the translation in order to avoid unnecessary delays or extended post revision. A style guide are used by translators who can refer back to them while they are working on translating a document, application, or website text. Once you start the translation and localization process you may find there are many different preferred ways to translate. A Style guide can also include a pronunciation guide for audio if there is recording involved. When a translator uses a styleguide to write a translation of your materials, you will find that there are fewer errors in consistency. Say, for example, that you added in your style guide that your company should be referred to the same way in every language. If this isn’t noted, a translator may translate your company’s name by accident. In some places, they may have translated the company name, and in others, they may have kept it the same. Using the style guide can help them to stay on track with writing everything the same way.

Translation can be subjective and a translation can be perfectly correct but fail to convey ‘how the brand speaks’ from a brand image point of view. A localization agency can usually provide you with an example of a style guide. A good styleguide outlines the tone and style of language and includes any company jargon, taglines, slogans, or even product names or services that may already have a translation – or should not be translated. Such terminology can also be included in a purpose-built glossary or termbase which can accompany the styleguide. A good localization agency can help their clients with this to ensure brand consistency in the localization process.Another reason why having a translator styleguide is important is that it makes it easier to review. Those reviewing the document can check the style guide to see if a questionable translation was done correctly. If they see, for example, that the company name is translated and not in the correct form, they can add that edit instead of wondering what the consensus was about referring to the company.

Lastly, keyword searches are a great reason why translators should use a style guide. If your translator completes the translation via the internet, you can easily identify issues that go against the style guide by using a keyword search. Making a style guide is relatively simple. The most important step is to sit down with members of your business to decide how you’d like to go forward with marketing during the localization process. Do you think it is better to translate the company’s name so your customers can understand what it means or what it is for? The localization agency typically provides the client with a framework template for a style guide and then discusses with the client what existing information or reference material there may be on hand that can be included. The agency then uses this information to draft the style guide for the client to review and provide feedback before signing off on the final version of the style guide.

A style guide outlines any approved decisions taken regarding how the brand should be portrayed and becomes a valuable tool in the translation process. The last scenario you want is to have your brand’s tagline translated into unapproved and inconsistent translations.

There are many questions to be answered to ensure a successful translation of your brand – but together with a professional localization expert, you will enjoy the experience of seeing your company’s brand localized into new locales across the globe! Once your translation style guide is created and agreed upon, it is time for your translator to begin!

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