Welcome to the second part of our series in which we help you draft a basic localization style guideline! A localization style guide consists of guidelines which translators need to follow in order to convey your brand’s message in target markets. Even though it all sounds pretty simple, it turns out that localization style guides have yet to gain mainstream traction, unlike the closely-related company terminologies.
If you are new here, check out Part One where we focused on linguistic questions such as defining differences between individual products, writing style, audiences, sentences, forms, acronyms, nouns, and active and passive voice. Today, we will focus on typography and internationalization. Are you ready?
Chapter #2. Typography
Fortunately, the rules of typography are generally very easy to define. You may want to point out that periods in US numbers should be replaced by commas in their Spanish counterparts. However, even in such cases, you have to remember that the period is the punctuation sign used to separate decimal numbers in Mexico.
Yes, the devil is always in the details. Other rules may include definitions on how to use question and exclamation marks (both, again, used very differently in Spanish and English). Once you have wrapped up this easy part, you are still left with one important part of the guide.
Chapter #3. Internationalization
This part of the guide covers supposedly easy questions, such as how to translate currency, and whether URLs should be translated. However, there are also some very difficult and important topics, such as localization and internationalization of jokes, slang, and marketing slogans. How should you localize an American joke or play-on-words into Spanish, German, or Japanese? These cultures probably don’t use the same references, so the joke might be lost and feel out of context if translated word-for-word.
Give the translator guidelines on how you want to convey such messages in the target language and how much freedom they have when it comes to altering the source text. It may sound as easy as telling the translator ‘just convey the message appropriately for your target market’, but things are rarely that simple, are they?
As a final note to wrap up, keep one thing in mind which can make or break your localization style guide: Always use examples! Use as many as you can find. Believe us, thanks to this translators will have an easier time understanding what you want from them, and you won’t get a headache from reading the final content localized into Japanese.
Remember that there are questions about how to localize please and thank you, as these are used differently in English and other languages. While the English source text may contain a sentence such as Please, click the link below, the translation in Slavic languages will just state Click the link below as the word please is not used in excess.
Another thing which goes hand-in-hand with the localization style guide is terminology. The truth is, if you want a good translation, try to define your company-specific terminology, terms you refrain from using, and fixed expressions. This tool, combined with the style guide, will create a perfect basis for all your localization efforts.
Is your localization style guide draft ready? We are aware that it may take some time to draft a document that covers all three chapters thoroughly. You will definitely need to cooperate with translators, project managers, and in-country reviewers but you will save a lot of time and effort in the long run.
If you are still not sure how to start drafting your localization style guide and create your company dictionary, feel free to reach out to our team! We will gladly help you make the first steps. Once you make a start in the right direction, it will become easier. We promise!