Why Style Guides are Vital to Localization Success

by Nadia Hlebowitsh
4 Minute Read

A style guide can be a localization lifesaver. This living document is what translators use to fully understand the job and create brand-specific localized content. Without one, your translators may not grasp the context, brand style and company terms, which can lead to frustrating back-and-forths and unsuccessful final copy.

A localization style guide is your language team’s roadmap. Here’s why you need one and what to include in yours to make it an effective guide for your translators.

 

Why do you need a localization style guide?

Documenting your brand can sometimes feel tedious. Yet, a localization style guide is well worth the effort. Having a clear and robust style guide can get you real results, including:

Get better engagement from users in your target locale: The more aligned the content, the more likely your target users will engage with it. A style guide can boost the effectiveness of the localized content.

Achieve quicker time to market: Cutting out unnecessary discussions and feedback can save your team time, leading to faster processes and time to market.

Build trust through continuous brand experience: Consistency across languages and platforms is vital for brand trust. A style guide is a great way to strengthen consistency and trust.

Reach localization KPIs through process clarity: Streamlining the localization process can help your team focus on brand voice and goals. In this way, you can better track KPIs and ensure you’re on track for success.

Ultimately, a localization style guide is an important tool for translators and linguists to hone in on the job requirements and avoid big translation errors.

 

What should a localization style guide include?

A localization style guide should outline specific expectations about localized content. Ideally, it’s written clearly and updated frequently as a living document online.

Your brand can decide how best to organize it, whether as a descriptive document or a checklist. Regardless of the structure, you should include the following sections in your localization style guide:

 

Brand Overview

Give a description of your brand voice and your target audience. This will help your linguist localize for your specific users. You may also include examples of brand voice done right.

 

Writing Style

Striking the right tone goes hand in hand with brand voice. Here you can talk about the stylistic aspects your brand is looking for, such as the tone (upbeat, informative, etc.) or type of vocabulary (layman, specialized, etc.).

 

Terminology Notes

In the terminology section, you’ll want to define a no-translation term list, as well as outline some keywords for your company, industry and audience. If applicable, you can also discuss best practices for keyword research.

 

All About Language

Get into the nitty-gritty in the language section. Here you can discuss technical elements of language, such as informal or formal verbal tenses, preferred spellings, punctuation, abbreviations, etc., brand formatting (such as title case, etc.), and cultural inclusivity (such as avoiding idioms, slang and humor)

 

Examples of Dos and Don’ts

The most effective style guides include practical do’s and don’ts. Give real-world examples of what you’re looking for in your final copy, including what you want to avoid. This can give your language team practical insights.

 

Change Log

Finally, localization style guides are living documents, which means they can and should be updated frequently. When you make a change, be sure to log it in some way so that your language team doesn’t have to close read the document all over again. Add a different color or include a change log at the bottom to make it easier to incorporate any changes.

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A localization style guide is an essential tool for giving your translators clear context clues and creating consistency across all your languages. Every localization strategy should include a style guide that defines brand voice and style in depth.

Don’t forget about preparing your original content for localization, too. You can make your language team’s job easier by making your content localization-friendly from day one.