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Translation Guide: Creating an Effective Terminology Glossary and Translation Style 101

Matthew Patel
Matthew Patel
Posted in Zoom Sep 3 · 6 Sep, 2022
Translation Guide: Creating an Effective Terminology Glossary and Translation Style 101

An aspect of an effective professional translation is a comprehensive and exhaustive terminology glossary, especially for industry-specific translators, to make their work consistent and more effortless. Another aspect is a clear and concise translation style guide that will give the translation work a cohesive tone throughout. 

Although these two aspects are vital to the quality of their work, sometimes translators are not able to create them because they will require a lot of research plus access to resource-intensive documents. 

But a terminology glossary and a translation guide are essential. They will prove high-value when it comes to making consistent and excellent translation content that is highly localized for any language and industry. 

If the translation work is consistent, especially for marketing and advertising content, it builds a sense of trust in your customer base. Alternatively, inconsistency creates confusion and dampens the message of the translation work. 

So, how do you make a practical terminology glossary and a straightforward translation guide? 

What is a Terminology Glossary? 

A translation glossary contains all the key terms used by any translation company with their approved translation meaning for every target translation language. When a specific term included in a translation glossary is used, it will ensure that the use is consistent among all translators doing translation work, no matter how much the word is used. 

A terminology glossary is specifically designed for one particular industry, brand, audience, etc., ensuring that each industry or brand-specific term maintains its original meaning no matter the language they are being translated to. 

What is a Translation Style Guide? 

A translation style guide is more of a guideline that will decide or help each translator pick the language elements that best represent their client in a specific target language. This will include writing style, proper sentence structure, voice, spelling, a preferred unit of measurement, industry background, etc. 

Depending on the set guidelines a client provides, it can either be a simple five-point bullet system or a multipage digital document that will guide the translation work. 

Benefits of Creating a Translation Guide and Terminology Glossary 

Aside from increasing the quality of each translation work, both style guides and terminology glossaries pose benefits to ensure effective localization. Other than that, what are the other benefits? 

It increases customer engagement and better prospects

It has already been established how consistent translation will create trust with any brand customer, and with this trust comes an increase in engagement, which can help a brand maintain its reputation as well as achieve an increase in sales because of the added engagement. The critical material to this consistency is the terminology glossary. 

It saves time for the translator

Both the translation guide and the terminology glossary will cut the time translators spend on each translation work. There will be no initial assessment for the translation’s tone or voice since the translation guide will be there to dictate that, plus time is cut spent on translating specific terms since the glossary can quickly provide the translation to particular words or phrases shortening the time for each translator. 

Now, translators can focus more on localizing the content to ensure that the work will appeal to the target audience in a specific language group. 

Translation Guide

It promotes consistency in output

Both the translation guide and the glossary will help with the quality of the translated work by making sure that the message is consistent across all markets. This will help a particular brand remain consistent with its messaging across all languages. Providing a translation guide will help translators localize the translation with a clear guide to what the voice should be, making the translation uniform with one voice. 

It reduces overall spending

Since translation guides and glossary will cut the time spent on each translation work, it reduces the cost. A sizable chunk of translation work cost is spent on reworks. Still, with the help of guides and a trusty glossary, there is less to virtually no rework needed since there will be minor inconsistency in the translated terms. 

What should an effective translation guide contain? 

A handy and effortlessly practical translation style guide will be easy to follow and include rules that promote consistency in the translated work. It will also highlight the brand, business, and target audience the work is meant for. 

Reference Materials

The reference materials will establish the localization work treated to a translation project. 

These reference materials will include critical background information about the source text, including but not limited to the source text’s objective and purpose, how precise and accurate to the source text the translation should be, whether to focus on style or information, etc. The reference materials should also include samples of translated works, if possible. 

Clear Target Audience Persona

For the translated work to be practical, especially for marketing or advertising, it will help if the translator has an idea of who they are doing the translation for. The audience or buyer persona is usually only available to the marketing team. Still, including a watered-down version for the translation guide will help ensure that the translation will be talking to the audience their work should be speaking to. 

This will include age group, country, key objectives, obstacles, and many more. 


Spelling in the translation guide will help streamline the entire translation and editing process and help with the transcript’s consistency. One notable example is the difference in an English word spelling when it comes to American versus the U.K English spelling, e.g., color for Americans and color for British English. 

There is also sometimes confusion about some proper nouns like “tweet,” should it be capitalized, like the website? This will ensure that everything is correct and accurate to text and localization. 

Translation Guide

Grammar and Punctuation

Another essential quality of excellent translation work is its adherence to proper tense, grammar, and punctuation usage. Translators should be mindful about using too many commas, etc. 

This will also include guidelines for what voice the translation should use, whether the first or third person. It will also include culturally-specific references, jargon, puns, and idioms for more localization. 

Formatting and Visuals

If translations are being done for a brand company or website, brands will find it helpful to include the looks and graphics of the website. This section can also include pertinent information like brand colors, logos, and many other design elements. 

Formating, on the other hand, will guide translators in the post-translation editing where specifics like font choice, bolded, underlined, or any other treatment for the subheadings should be done. 

Clear Tone and Voice

This guideline will ensure that the translated copy or transcript will still set a clear tone and voice that will identify your company. It will also allow the translators to have a clear-cut view of your brand, whether they will be using technical, educational, academic, or traditional language or if the translation will talk and will adopt a conversational, sophisticated or neutral tone. 

Branding Guidelines

To help solidify a clear-cut brand identity, the translation needs to capture the brand’s essence. A way to translate this to the transcript or copy is to spell out what the brand and its core values are about on the translation guide given to the translators. Standards provided to introduce the brand will ensure that the translated message is not splintered no matter what language. 

What should an effective terminology glossary contain? 

A practical glossary embedded in translation memory will include consistently translated words or words that do not need translation at all. It should be concise, comprehensive, and, most importantly, relevant to the specific enterprise. 

Keywords for SEO

Companies know the secret to good SEO optimization and its benefit to helping a brand stand out from the rest of its competition. Adding commonly used terms in the terminology glossary will help a translation go up in the search engine results to help a company further its plans to appeal to a broader set of audiences. 

To make it easier for the translators, adding these terms to the glossary will keep it consistent so that any locales they are looking to expand in will benefit from this SEO strategy, especially for web and digital content. 

Industry Terms

Industry-specific terms included in the glossary will help the translators distinguish words with multiple meanings that can cause problems when one and not the other was used in the translation. Making sure that these terms meet a specific industry will avoid confusion, so it is vital to set a clear definition for them to avoid problems in the translation. 

Company Terms

Company-specific words and phrases included in the glossary will sometimes be words and phrases that wouldn’t need to be translated. Sometimes, these terms are the brand name itself, the company motto, or other trademarked or copyrighted phrases. Specific terms included in the glossary could be the service or the product being sold to a wider audience. 

Target Audience-Specific Terms

One benefit of localizing content is to appeal to the target audience. This makes audience-specific terms a must-have for any translation glossary. 

These terms may be slang, age-specific or cultural references, or industry-specific terms relatable to the target audience of specific translation work. This will make the translated work more personal, which will help appeal to a wide variety of audiences. 

Other Data

Other data included in the terminology glossary of any translator will cover metadata like part of speech, context, definition, terms, etc., related to being used for specific technical translation works. 

Creating an Effective Translation Style Guide 

Making a translation guide to aid a translator will benefit their work and working tenfold. Creating a style guide for any translation work will take at least 8 to 10 hours and will depend on the extent and scope of the business, what type of translation services is offered, or what kind of translation work is covered. 

Step One: Supply Materials

The first step to making a translation style guide will entail the client or brand to compile new, revised, or existing style guides to be sent on the language service provider’s way together with the source text to be translated. It will also include reference materials such as old style guides or previous sample works if possible. 

Step Two: Materials Analysis

The language service provider will then analyze the source text and all the compiled reference materials to determine which parts or areas are sensible to be highlighted in the newer style guide to ensure a productive translation output. 

Some will be extracted from the reference materials, while other source texts and reference elements are highlighted as a focal point of the translated work. 

Step Three: Review

Once a translation style guide has been drafted by the language service provider or a specific translator, the client will review the translation style guide to approve, disprove, or suggest added aspects to this or that. If a client or brand working with a translator has a reference person to test the source text to, they need to participate in this process as well. 

Step Four: Compiling Guide

Once edits or additions are made with the reviewed translation style guide, the language service provider or any translator will then compile and finalize the translation guide. The clients or personnel from various target markets can also participate in this process by reviewing the materials before dissemination to different translators or editors is in order. 

Step Five: Final Review and Approval

If there are no possible edits to be made with the translation transcription or content, a final client review is done and is approved if there are no other concerns for the translation style guide. 

Step Six: Create Style Guide

If everything is approved, the language service provider will compile and make the final translation style guide. It will include other tools such as localization methods or the client’s specific formats. If everything is done, these translation guides will be there to be given as a guide to particular translators or editors to do the project. 

Creating an Effective Terminology Glossary

Many translator businesses will already carry helpful glossaries with specific terms and SEO keywords ready to be used for their many translation workings. The best time to make a glossary should be before localization. This will ensure that each document will be consistent and take a shorter time which will help reduce the cost in the long run. 

Step One: Supply Materials 

The first step to making a well-compiled and effective terminology glossary will entail any client or business to create a list of all the translation terms with the definitions and context relevant to the source text. The compilation will also include any reference material like previously made terminology glossaries from older translated projects. 

Step Two: Materials Analysis

Suppose all source materials, terms with definitions, previous glossaries, or any other reference materials are given to the language service provider by the client or the business. In that case, it is not time to analyze everything. 

The language service provider will do the work of extracting and adding terms from any source language to fit the possible target language it will be translated to. 

Step Three: Review

Once done, the drafted terminology glossary will be given back to the client or business for approval. Just as it is with making a concise translation style guide for the client, any personnel tapped from each target market available should be involved in this process for added input, comments, or suggestions. 

Step Four: Translation and Research

Once approval and inputs are noted, it’s now time for the language service provider to do the research and compile specific translations for a term in a given target language. 

They can also choose to imbed cultural relevance to each translated word or phrase for easy localization when requested by the clients or brands. 

Step Five: Final Review and Approval

The final client review and approval of the drafted terminology glossary will commence at this stage with the engagement of a target audience member for checking and approval also advised. 

Step Six: Create Terminology Glossary

The final and approved terminology glossary compiled and finalized by a specific language service provider will then be inserted into the translation technology and translation memory available for use by different translators and editors. 

With these, translation for particular words or industry or audience-specific terms and phrases will be more straightforward, cutting time and reducing cost for both parties involved. 

Translation Guide

Tips on Creating an Effective Terminology Glossary 

·        for new glossaries, focus on industry-specific terms particular to the project

·        base the translation on the translated materials for already translated projects looking instead at effective enhancement and localization

·        only include complex terms in your glossary on top of consistently translated words

·        employ the services of local experts in a specific target language to review the terms and definitions 

·        establish the language variants on the get-go, e.g., British English vs. American English; Portuguese Portuguese vs. Brazilian Portuguese 

Final Thoughts

The small step of integrating a concise style guide and terminology glossary for your workings will give any translation work and translators a lot of benefits. It will improve the work and keep it consistent, especially for repeat clients needing translation done to their processes. 

For the translators, there will be less time to translate complex terms and more time to ensure that the translation is localized for maximum engagement and effectiveness—all in all, a two-way road of benefits.