So, you need something translated. If it’s your first time working with a translator, then it’s understandable that you won’t know what a translator needs to know.
As a translator with over a decade of experience, I’ve received a lot of project descriptions and briefs in my time. Some have been excellent. Others have left out vital details, which has caused issues further down the line.
To save you time and confusion, we’ve put together some guidelines to help you write the perfect project description or brief for your translator.
- Translation? Transcreation? Adaptation? Say which service you need
When writing a brief, it’s important you ask for the right service. Otherwise you could waste time and money looking for the wrong thing or even end up with a final text that doesn’t fit the bill.
If you’re not sure whether you need translation or transcreation, editing or proofreading, make sure you check out our post on demystifying translation jargon.
If you’re still not sure which would be best for your text, then why not ask your translator? They should be happy to share their expertise and explain what would be the best fit. For instance, you might find that your website needs more than ‘just’ translation.
- Specify the source and target languages
The source language is the language that the document is already in, and the target language is the language it will be translated into. When it comes to brief writing, remember to think about language variants as well, as they can be very different, and many translators only work into specific variants.
For example, here at TAGS, we translate into European Portuguese, so if the target audience was Brazilian, then we wouldn’t be able to help as Brazilian and European Portuguese are very different. But we can recommend some lovely colleagues who work into Brazilian Portuguese.
- Source document format and expected delivery format
What file format is your document in, and do you expect delivery in the same format?
Some formats are more difficult to work with than others and while CAT (computer-assisted translation) tools can generally read PDFs, they can be fiddly to work with. Scanned documents are particularly tricky and normally can’t be directly translated. Because this would make the translation process more time-consuming, your translator will factor this into their quote.
- Other requirements or expectations
If there are any other details that you think are relevant or if you expect the translator to deliver something very specific, like a glossary for example, it’s best to let them know at this stage to avoid confusion later on.
- Word count
Translators generally work on a per word basis, so if you know the word count, then include it in the project brief. If, however, for some reason a word count isn’t relevant or available, then provide the translator with some indication of the volume of text to be translated, such as the number of pages. Or if you have a video that needs subtitling, let them know how many minutes long the clip is.
- Expected turnaround time
Let the translator know when you need or expect the translation to be completed by. Be reasonable with your deadlines and expect to pay more if it’s a ‘rush job’. Remember that translators will often have other projects and commitments on, so they may not be able to work on your project right away.
Last but by no means least, when working with a translator, we recommend letting the translator know what your budget is from the outset, rather than waiting for a quote or figure from them.
That way, they know immediately whether your budget is compatible with their rates and neither of you waste valuable time negotiating.
Well done! Now you know how to write a brief that will give a translator the information they need to know. This means you’re already on the way to creating a great translation!
If you need help translating content for the Portuguese market, then please feel free to request a quote. Or if you want to discuss things first, why not book a free consultation.