5 tips for top-notch corporate magazine translations

Corporate magazines are an essential tool of corporate communications, both internal and external. International companies often like to produce content in different languages for the various regions and countries where they are present. When it comes to ensuring superior magazine content, professional translators are the only way to go. They craft the final text with the same care and skill as the writers who produced the source material. While machine translation is making headlines, this technology is not yet sophisticated enough for corporate communications and publications. Below are five tips to help you get the most out of your translations.

  1. Define your audience

Defining your audience is just as important when commissioning translations as it is when creating a magazine. Ask questions like: Who will be reading the magazine? Is it for employees, prospective clients, or existing clients? An internal employee magazine looks, sounds, and feels quite different from a magazine that is sent out to current or prospective clients, even when they’re both written by the same company and communicate the same core messages.

The task of translation goes beyond simply translating each individual word in the articles; the translator must convey the meaning of the entire text. Depending on the target audience for the magazine, content may need to be localized and presented in a different way for an international (or regional) readership. Professional translators are language experts and excellent writers. They consider the purpose of the magazine through the lens of their cultural expertise and then edit the content as necessary to align with regional expectations and/or cultural differences, so the message gets across as intended. They are sensitive to nuance and the latest in cultural and linguistic trends (for example, using gender-neutral language).

  1. Maintain solid communication

One of the great advantages of working with an experienced translation agency is the established communication flow and efficient dialog that occurs as projects evolve.  Maintaining good communication between the translation team and client, as well as between the team members themselves, is paramount to successfully completing a project. With any corporate communications project, it is the client’s voice that matters. It is the translator’s job to amplify that voice in the other language. At German Language Services, we create resources to help facilitate better communication, running the gamut from style guides and glossaries to lists of terminology preferences. This ensures that we not only use the right words, but we also do it consistently.

  1. Plan in advance

As with all big projects, advance planning and proper scheduling are simple ways to facilitate excellence for magazine translations also. At German Language Services, we can work with almost any deadline, but scheduling a project in advance sets it up for higher levels of success. Similar to magazine writers with their different areas of expertise, translators also have subjects they prefer to work on. Giving the translation provider advance notice ensures that the best writers for a given text can clear their schedules and even start any necessary research beforehand.

  1. Work from final drafts

Although texts can be translated at any stage in the writing process, translating magazines once they have been finalized and senior leadership has signed off on the content produces optimal results with minimal wasted time. Professional translators understand, however, that circumstances—such as time constraints or internal approval processes—can preclude working from final versions. When this type of situation arises and timelines are tight, it can make sense to start work before the final version is officially approved. In these cases, clients should keep the translation provider updated on progress and send the final version as soon as it is ready.

  1. Provide editable files

Like any professionals, translators use specialized tools while working to improve their efficiency and productivity. These computer-aided translation (CAT) tools are specifically designed to extract the text to be translated from a document and then put it all back in the right place. Providing an editable file to the translator helps ensure that this comes off without a hitch. Source texts in Word format are usually the easiest to work with, but other formats with editable text are also acceptable. When in doubt, check with your translation provider. Hard copies and PDFs can also be translated of course, but working with them will take longer than working with an editable text.