Translations of Technical Documentation

Zbyněk Zelenka

Zbyněk Zelenka

22. 3. 2013

This article deals with why it is so important to choose the right software when it comes to translating technical documents.

If you are thinking about the following:

How to save money on translating large volumes of technical documentation?
How to achieve high quality and terminological uniformity in technical documentation?

You may wish to consider meeting the following basic conditions:

A) It is important to select the correct program for creating documents Technical documentation needs to be created using programs that are able to work separately with texts and graphical elements, and, at the same time, that can be connected to systems for documentation management (see condition B). Similarly, it is important that these programs are able to work with a number of input and output formats (such as XML, etc.).

These applications meet this condition:

Adobe InDesign (.indd), Adobe FrameMaker (.fm), and QuarkXPress (.qxd).


Of course, each of these applications has pros and cons. From this perspective, Word (.doc or .docx) is an absolutely unsuitable format, as it is unable to achieve proper quality when processing huge documents containing a larger number of graphical elements. And this usually is the essential problem with technical documentations.

B) Please do obtain a suitable system for documentation management Systems for documentation management enable multiple users to manipulate documents simultaneously (based on assigned rights) and facilitate approval procedures. Together with the content of the documents, they can also save metadata (structured information about the documents) and provide simple access to various file versions.

Of course, there are many more functions, but these are the main ones. In English, these systems are called CMSs (content management systems).

C) Be sure to use CAT tools for translating

All CAT software tools are able to create translation memories and terminological dictionaries and they also enable simple checking of the quality of translations. CAT tools may also be owned and used by authors of texts, but it is not necessary.

It is good to entrust all the work related to translating technical documentations to a professional translation agency, which can use several types of these tools in order to ensure client satisfaction.

We’ve realized that the most popular CAT tools are SDL Trados, Across, and Transit.

D) It is important to carry out multiple checks of the source document

Obviously, each text intended for translation into foreign languages (source text) has to be absolutely perfectly checked. If there are any mistakes (in terms of content, meaning, stylistics, or terminology) in the source text, they will consequently appear in each translated language version. In order to resolve these issues, it is good to use a quality terminological dictionary and a style guide.

E) Take the time to carefully select the provider of translation services When choosing the provider of translation services, it is important to keep the following in mind:

- number and quality of translators immediately available for the provider,
- system for quality control the provider uses, if any (e.g. EN 15038 or ISO 9001),
- experience of the provider with the given discipline (references of clients),
- translation tools the provider uses (CAT software),
- willingness of the provider to give advice.

Once these conditions have been met, you can look forward to having quality technical documentation both in the source language and its translations into foreign languages, with its assured uniformity in terms of terminology and stylistics.

We are ready to assist you with these issues at anytime; just contact us at or call +420 577 144 669.

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