Best Practices for Reviewing Translated Content

by Han Mai
5 Minute Read

What you don't know won't hurt you. Except when it comes to translation. What you don’t know about your translated content could be a huge liability for your brand. 

This is especially true for languages that nobody on your team speaks. How do you know if the translation is any good? There are too many what-ifs involved: What if there are errors or typos? What if the translated doesn’t follow brand voice? What if the translation makes an offensive mistake?

By leaving your translated content to what-ifs, your brand reputation and content strategy could be at risk. To ensure quality, you’ll need to get your translations reviewed by a professional. 

Yet, translation reviews are known for going awry. That’s because brands don’t usually follow best practices for reviewing translated content. In turn, this results in a rushed review, added stress to your content team and an endless loop of pointless corrections. 

Reviewing your translated content should be a seamless part of your localization strategy. To help you out, we’ve put together best practices for translation review, so that your company can ensure quality standards without the usual headache.


Early Steps for Translation Success

First, you can set up your translator and reviewer for success by avoiding these pitfalls:


Don’t ask in-house employees to translate or review

Perhaps you have co-workers who speak the language at hand. You figure that asking them to translate or review the content will keep your budget down and save time. Think again. Unless your co-worker is a professional linguist, he/she doesn’t have the know-how to translate or review. In fact, he/she may slow down the process by nit-picking choices that ultimately don’t contribute to a better translation. 

In addition, reviewers who aren’t professional linguists may not understand how to separate subjective decisions from key indicators of accuracy and clarity. Ultimately, this leads to unproductive back-and-forths between the translator and the reviewer. 


Don’t rush the process with overnight deadlines

Do you really need that translation by tomorrow? Translation quality and time often follow a sliding scale. Cut your translator’s time short and he/she won’t be able to carefully think through linguistic choices. By giving the translator ample time, your team will be much happier with the results. 


Create style guidelines and glossaries in advance

Every brand should have a writing style guide, as well as a living glossary. If you don’t, take the time to put one together. Your translator may miss the mark on brand voice without clear guidelines about what defines that voice. Glossaries are likewise useful to keep vocabulary consistent across different translations and languages. 


Facilitate early collaboration between the translator and content team

Translators shouldn’t be working in silos. Make sure there’s open communication between your translator and the content team. Getting early feedback and collaborating on improvements can ensure that the translation is on the right track.


What Makes a Good Translation

Your reviewer should check for these key indicators of a high-quality translation, including:

- Correct grammar and punctuation, without typos or misspellings

- Accurate translation that captures the feeling of the message

- Reads fluently and naturally (word choice, sentence structure, etc.)

- Aligned with brand voice (tone, style, consistency, etc.) 

- Suitable for the message’s context (web, report, marketing brochure, etc.)

- Adheres to region’s linguistic and cultural norms

- Accurate industry terminology

- Proper formatting

This might seem like a lot, yet professional translators know to aim for these qualities. In fact, you can send your translator this QA list to double-check that they’re keeping these indicators top of mind. 


What Reviewers Should Leave Alone

So often translation reviews end up focusing on aspects that they shouldn’t. Translation is subjective, just like writing is subjective. Your reviewer should avoid getting caught up in choices that are a matter of preference. This includes:

- Word choice: “Correcting” subjective word choices can be a slippery slope. Unless the word needs to be changed due to the industry or for clarity, your reviewer should avoid meddling in matters of preference. 

- Writing style: A reviewer should not be rewriting whole sections to shift the writing style. If brand voice requires a certain tone or style, your translator should know about this in advance through your style guidelines. Reviewers should shy away from rewriting just to “make it sound better” in their opinion.

If a reviewer has significant subjective edits, this can slow down the process and frustrate your localization team. At the end of the day, a few subjective suggestions by the reviewer may be ok, but the main focus should be on the key indicators listed above. 

Important note: Remember that professional review is quite different from internal review. As your team gives internal translation feedback, be sure to follow these tips for constructive collaboration. 


Level Up Your Localization Strategy

For some reason, reviewing translated content isn’t typically included in company localization strategies – but it should be. Make sure professional translation review is an established step and give translators/reviewers enough time to do their jobs well. 

Your localization strategy is your roadmap to successful brand expansion. Have you defined yours? Reach out to Lilt to get a personalized consultation about your company’s localization needs.