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Reduce translation costs through globalisation

How to globalise my technical documentation

Reduce translation costs through globalisation


Globalisation (G11N)

The term globalisation will be used frequently in the articles of this blog. It is therefore a good idea to define its meaning in very clear terms within this context, and with a high level of accuracy, because it has different or broader meanings in other areas.

Globalisation is the design and development of a product, application or content of a document, which allows it to be used in different cultures and regions, and ensures that it can be localised (translated) easily. In other words, it is the application of a series of good practices for the programming of code, the writing of the information that accompanies the program, the creation of illustrations and graphics, the DTP of the documentation, etc. Below are some examples of good practices for creating globalised software:

  • using Unicode, a character coding standard designed to facilitate the processing and visualisation of texts in multiple languages
  • avoiding the interlinking of text chains
  • preparing programming code so as to be able to work with local, regional, linguistic or cultural preferences, such as date and time formats, local calendars, number formats and systems, sorting and presentation of lists, etc.
  • separating programming code from the interface text and messages that must be translated
  • not using non-editable graphic text, etc.
  • leaving space to expand the text (translated texts normally take up more space than the source language text)

An excellent resource on software globalisation is the Globalisation Step-by-Step guide from the Microsoft Go Global Developer’s Centre. It explains the necessary elements for globalising an application for developers and users.

Globalisation = savings

Following good globalisation practices helps enormously in making savings when it comes to translation and localisation. A good example of this is IKEA assembly instructions. They don’t contain any text! It is therefore not necessary to translate them and they can be used with ease all over the world. It is easy to see the enormous savings IKEA makes with this simple but brilliant globalisation practice.

Documentation globalisation

The IKEA catalogue, on the other hand, is translated: the 2014 edition was published in 17 languages for 28 countries. Some products must be provided with written information, instructions, manuals or online support, but the IKEA example demonstrates another excellent globalisation practice: always be brief and concise!

Many thanks for reading! We look forward to receiving your comments and suggestions for future articles.

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