Reusing Texts and Translations

Posted on Posted in Interesting translaton topics, Saving money on translations

Reusing texts and translations can help to save you a lot of money and time. There is so much text around us. Companies translate so many texts for different purposes and those texts are constantly changing. This change is essential for a business to develop, but what does this have to do with translation? Well, just about everything if your business is working at an international level.

Unfortunately, when the texts are no longer used anymore, they are “archived”, which is the computer term used for putting things into long-term storage. However, it is unfortunate that this term is synonymously used for getting rid of texts forever. This is due to the fact that most archived texts rarely get utilized again. Why is that? The nature of texts is very complicated and if texts are not organized well, due to the volumes involved ranging across a wide array of topics, it is hard see where texts or text segments can be reused or better said, reutilized.

At the same time, if you imagine how long it takes to write a text for brochure or a manual, it would be a pity to waste all of those man hours if it is possible to use parts of the text again.

Here are some basic strategies that can be used to reuse your texts. I will also explain how to relate this to your translations thereby saving you money:

The first rule in doing this entails developing a good configuration management strategy for your texts. This means developing a system for storing texts as well as labeling their version and type properly so that they can be found and tracked easily. Please see my article on configuration management for more details.

Secondly, when you translate a particular document, make sure that you keep the source and target files stored away properly without changing any formatting. These documents can be utilized by performing what is called an alignment to make a translation memory. This means that, using the appropriate software, the texts are broken up into segments and the source and target languages are matched and “aligned”. The results of this process are imported into a translation memory. By doing this, when you author new texts and use phrases or segments that have once been translated, the translation for these segments appear automatically and do not have to be retranslated. In turn, parts of the text that have to be amended are highlighted for the translator to facilitate quicker and more efficient translation. Translation memories can save translation costs considerably and ensure the accuracy and consistency of translations. See my articles on translation memories and alignments for more detail.

Here is a neat trick for utilizing your texts once you have developed a good configuration management strategy.

  1. Categorize topics as much as possible each time you create a document, labeling them properly with the date and a category. For example, you can use broad topics such as “marketing” or “technical”, but it would be even better to label them in a more exact manner using subcategories such as “thank you notes” and “telephone instruction” manuals. The topics really have to be tailored to your specific business in order to be effective.
  2. In parallel, for each category, create single document, a master file, where you paste all of your texts. Don’t forget to label the name of the files that are pasted into the document so you can refer to them later. Yes, I do mean a single file that contains all of your documents.
  3. When you author new texts within a certain category or subcategory, you can use search functions in the master document to find related information and use it depending on what you are writing about. The search can be done by topic.
  4. In the process of using the master file, if you see that some text is used incredibly often, even across the different categories, put those text blocks into another file separately for future use.
  5. If you see that entire file structures and layouts are useful as you create content, make sure to save these as templates. This is often a very handy technique for the creation of user manuals and technical documentation. Many large companies use templates such as these to create their use manuals instead of having to start from scratch each and every time a new document has to be drafted.

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