Technical manuals come in all forms and for all sorts of industries. Manuals are not just those that come with furniture, electronics and kitchen appliances. Technical manuals are used within factories, in construction, in production plants, etc. Industry is everywhere and the use of technical manuals are endless. So, it's incredibly important to understand some basics before submitting a manual for translation. When purchasing translation of a technical manual, here are some important points to keep in mind.
Be clear about your expectations. Translation of technical manuals is not done overnight, so be clear about your expectations when you approach a translation vendor. If you need the translation back quickly, be prepared to pay rush fees. If you only want certain pages of the manual translated, make sure these are clearly pointed out or marked before you hand over the source document. This will help the vendor to give you an accurate quote and turnaround time for the project.
Decide if you need the vendor to recreate images and drawings or if you will have your own team handle these. If you choose to handle the formatting and recreation of images and drawings, you will inevitably save money and time. Translation agencies can handle many types of documents and files, so if you need the vendor to assist with images and drawings, be expected to pay a higher price than if you simply have the text translated and formatted.
Request that industry- and company-specific names be maintained. Certain words on switches or keys that also appear in manuals should be left in the source language if they will also appear on machinery or in software. This will allow those who utilize the manual to recognize these terms and feel comfortable operating equipment. If the terms in the manual differ from those on equipment, it can be more confusing than useful.
Be sure that your vendor creates a glossary or Translation Memory (TM) for your manual. This ensures consistency for future manuals into the same language, as well as other supporting documents. If you find an agency that produces an excellent first manual for your company, stick with them. They will be able to consistently produce high quality translations by employing the same linguists and TMs for your documents. When it comes to manuals, remember one thing if nothing else: consistency is key.