There are two universal truths in this world: Revenge is a dish best served cold and localization is a process best planned from the very start. Leaving jokes aside, it really is important to research and plan for content localization in advance. By ‘in advance’ we mean even before the content creation! Whether website translation, app localization or marketing materials, you name it- it is all best translated when it is written with potential for localization in the writer’s mind.
It’s extremely difficult to keep a few things in mind when it comes to localization of the content you are writing. First of all, if you think about localization beforehand, it will add substantial value and help save money. Writing content that’s easy to localize will also speed up your work and decrease the scope of translation tremendously. Do you want consistency and clarity in your highly-branded materials? Consider it done!
If you want to write content that’s easy to localize, keep on reading!
#1. Follow the Guidelines, No Matter What
We know that this can be often restrictive to the writing style. However, following the guidelines for writing the content that’s ready for localization will save time, lower costs and reduce the margin for errors in the process itself. The best part? When you write content that’s easy to localize it can also improve the English version, as it will be easier to read and understand by second-language and non-native English speakers (as well as search engines). Most companies have their own style guide – do you use a vehicle or a car in your marketing materials and documentation? Should numbers be written with letters? Choose one style and stick to it – coherence is the key.
#2. Be Concise
Writing is an extremely creative process, even when we talk about copywriting. We know that sometimes a person can get carried away, especially if they are really passionate about the product or service they’re writing about. It’s also seen as outstanding to incorporate an edgy attitude and a particular sense of humor. We agree with putting passion into your content writing, but the sad truth is that the more to-the-point you are, the better your content is for localization.
Think about it in this way: Your customers simply want to know how your product or service can benefit them and how can this be done. This is the key information that you have to convey. Don’t expect them to read essays on the history of the company or how you came up with get the idea of improving that specific feature. Focus on your potential customers and how you can help them thrive. Sometimes less is more!
#3. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
It doesn’t really matter what type of content you write, whether it’s for the web or for software; you need to be sure that the original text is proofread to perfection. The importance of this step can never be overstated as it influences the quality of the content in general.
If you overlook any errors in the source content, they will be repeated in all the languages into which your content is translated. Make sure everything is clear and precise: grammar, style, punctuation or spelling errors sound minor, but they cause a major mess and major damage (mainly to your pocket).
Bear one little thing in mind: If the provided text was written by the software developer, it may contain words and phrases that are too complex for ordinary readers to understand. That’s why it should be edited by a Subject Matter Expert first if you are not one yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
These are 3 the most important things to keep in mind if you want to write content that’s easy to localize!
As a bonus, here’s a mini guide to keeping your writing style simple:
###Bonus: Keep Your Writing Style Simple
- Avoid gender-specific forms such as ‘he, she, his and her’ and use the neutral ‘they and their’ instead
- Write ‘and’ instead of using an ampersand
- Avoid humor or idioms – these are usually highly region specific to groups that share a common cultural set of values
- Do not use a forward slash, such as in ‘and/or’ as it is difficult to translate. Rewrite the sentence to indicate exactly what do you mean
- Avoid overly complex sentences
- Write the plural form of nouns instead of adding ‘(s)’ as in flowers rather than flower(s)
- Use words with few synonyms