Do You Need a Glossary for that Job?

There are certain situations where it helps to have your translation company create a working glossary. A glossary is a document with definitions of key terms. A good glossary can save you time and expense due to inconsistencies, disagreements, delays, and last minute revisions. A comprehensive glossary will help translators and editors do their jobs more efficiently, because this approved list of industry terms and company stylistic preferences streamlines the production process.

Here are some tips for figuring out if you need to create a glossary.

  • If the job has a large number of pages, or is a long term one. Do you need a catalog translated? If it has a large number of pages and there are a lot of specialized terms used, you may want to have your translation company create a glossary. Likewise, if the job will include many smaller jobs stretched out over the long term, creating a glossary is a good idea. Using a glossary for larger jobs like this will eliminate costly bottlenecks, and time-consuming linguistic inconsistencies.
  • If the job uses highly specialized terms. If your industry uses a lot of terms that all parties involved may not be clear on, it’s helpful to create a glossary they can refer to as needed during the life of the project.
  • If many people will be involved in the project over time. The more people who are involved in a translation project, the more important it is to coordinate in advance.  A glossary is especially necessary in this case, because it keeps everyone on the same page as far as the meanings of words used in the documents. You won’t have a situation where your field representative in Argentina or Mexico comes in at the last minute and changes key terms that affect everybody.

Creating a glossary will not add much to the cost of the translation job. A reputable translation agency can use skilled human translators and specialized tools to produce a few pages of key terms quickly, submit them to you for feedback and input, and do it at a  reasonable cost. Glossaries are not justifiable for all projects, however – if all you need is a small brochure translated, it’s not worth the cost of creating a glossary.

If you have manuals, or a high volume, long term translation project, however, a glossary is definitely a necessary tool to keep everybody in sync and on schedule. Investing in a glossary at the beginning will keep the process accurate and consistent, and will pay off in a successful translation job that avoids costly revisions at the end and meets all your deadlines.

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