Last Updated on Mar 27, 2020 by James W


The job of a translator goes beyond simply reading a piece of text and converting it into another language according to the client’s request: it is the translators job to decipher and adapt the finished script to reflect the right tone, implied meanings and double meanings. He/she must also ensure that the final manuscript follows all the rules of language dictated by the target language.

Once you have decided to outsource your translation needs to a translation agency, your prospective service provider will have specific requirements of you, in order to ensure that they serve your needs.

As a first-time customer, you may not know what to expect from the provider e.g. what formats the original documents should be provided in, the duration of the translation process, the rates and fees applicable and other pertinent information. The purpose of this article is to provide tips to make you better equipped to work with your service provider.


  1. Give concise instructions

Any translator will tell you that one of the problems they most commonly face is that clients hire them without providing sufficient instructions – or any at all regarding the work to be done. So, what exactly are these instructions that should be given?

When the translator starts working on an original text file, he/she is also responsible for adapting the final script into what works for the target audience/language. All languages have their own set of rules regarding grammar, sentence structure and also implied meanings and tone. All these must be considered in order to ensure that the final document follows all guidelines and hence will be properly understood by the target audience.

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Consider this example when translation from English to Spanish and vice versa:

The English language uses capital letters more liberally than most languages, including Spanish. Spanish language has very particular rules on capitalization, including when capitalization must not be done.

Therefore, if these instructions are not conveyed to the translator from the client, he/she will simply translate the document, following the rules established by the Royal Spanish Academy. As such, if the text was given in capital letters in English the translated Spanish document will have most lowercase letters, which is still grammatically correct in the Spanish language, but may not fulfill the needs of the client.


  1. Account for industry-specific terminology

Most often, clients will want to use terms that are specifically applicable to their document. However, they may fail to convey this to the translator, only noticing once the document has been translated. Although the translation may be correct, the terms used could be different from what the client expected.

Take the above example: in translating the word ‘computer’ to Spanish, you can say ‘computadora’, ‘equipo’ or ‘ordernador’ depending on the specific region. Using any of the above is won’t result in a translation error, but will merely reflect customer preferences, much like the use of s or z in English words like recognize and analyze.

Therefore, as a client looking for translation, you should be clear about any language preferences you have and any details that may affect the final translated document. These requests should be made before work starts and fully clarified. Tell the translator if you need certain words highlighted or capitalized, or any industry-specific terms that should be considered.

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This way, you can avoid any delays in the project as a result of miscommunication between either party.



The author is a qualified and experienced translation services provider. He has been running his translation agency for over a decade, and has written many articles on translation, interpretation, DTP and other related services.




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