;   Medical Translation Insight: Style guides: an investment worth making - ForeignExchange Translations

Style guides: an investment worth making

(Not this kind of style guide)
A translation style guide is a collection of rules that define language and style conventions for specific languages in order to help maintain consistency, an important measure of quality in translated materials.

An adequate style guide can vary in length and detail of information, but here are some of the most important elements in what would constitute a good style guide:

  • It should be clear and simple to follow.
  • Outline the style, tone and register that should be maintained in the target language.
  • Include language-specific information if it will differ from the source language, such as:
    - Punctuation: spaces, commas, dashes, etc.
    - Spelling: capitalization, personal names and titles, abbreviations and acronyms, etc.
    - Formatting: font choices, general symbols like &, # and so on.
    - Rules on how to handle bibliographies, citations and graphics.
  • Information on adaptation for localization purposes: postal addresses, telephone numbers, currency and metric conversions
  • Preferences that indicate how to handle company and product names, foreign words and phrases, etc.
  • Consider cultural differences so that they do not translate in an unnatural, awkward way.
  • For software translation, information on how to handle user interface components such as menus, dialogue boxes, error messages, etc.
  • Common errors to be avoided such as false cognates, use of active versus passive voice, etc.
These are some of the main elements that should be included in a style guide, but as a general rule, a style guide should contain any instructions that will enhance consistency in the target language. We find that working with clients on style guides pays huge dividends in consistency, quality, cost and turnaround time on projects. So they're definitely worth the effort.

For more on this topic, take a look at the following:
Find out how ForeignExchange Translations can help you develop a style guide for your medical translation projects.
 

1 Comment:

  1. Oliver Lawrence said...
    I agree with most of your comments, except to say that:

    1) a style guide is for ensuring consistency in linguistic grey areas (e.g. preference, or otherwise, for the serial comma) - it's not the place to point out standard rules of correctness (the translator should know those already);

    2) the use of active vs passive is not a question of right and wrong. The passive has its place (e.g. to help front-load sentences when writing for the web).

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