What's Your Style (Guide)?

Style guides seem to be something we thought about in school when our professors asked us to use a certain one for final papers and research...APA, MLA, Chicago, and the list goes on. However, did you ever think about what your style (guide) should be in the documents used in your industry or company? Do you have one? Should you? Well, of course you should, but the bigger question is if you know which style is used and why. And if not, which is best for your line of work? If you're publishing anything that will be read by clients, colleagues or anyone in a professional setting, you should really consider the style guide that fits your company and industry best. After all, your brand is the one on the line. And, if you are a translation client, making sure your translation vendor uses your preferred style guide should be at the top of your "To-do" list.

Here are some points to consider when submitting files for translation:

Consistency: This seems to come up more often than not when I talk to clients. Consistency is key to professional texts and documents. Just as you want to be consistent with your brand, the way you present your brand visually through texts that you use should also remain as consistent as possible. It's also important for your translation vendor to understand how you want to promote your brand or communicate with your colleagues consistently. Remember, if you change vendors, make sure that your new vendor is also aware of your specific style guide. If you don't have one yet, ask the vendor to see what it uses and then you can decide from there what to adopt or adapt.

Distinguishing your style before you submit a text for translation: You may wish to create your own style guide for your company or organization based on the presentation of documents and files within your industry. Do you have documents with foreign words that are necessary for specific terms in a technical manual or internal document? If so, are these terms typically in italics or parentheses? Do you prefer to give an explanation of them in brackets? Do you have a preference on how quotation are placed around quoted text? Do you prefer to have dates appear in US format (month, day, year) or European (or most other countries, for that matter) format (day, month, year)? These are things to think about before sending files to your translation vendor.

Decide early, save later: This is an important step with translation and the use of style guides. Texts to be translated typically go through a process in which they are seen by several sets of eyes. It's important to be certain that your company's, industry's or vendor's style guide are diligently followed by all who work on and review your files. This way, you can avoid subjective changes and save money over time by avoiding corrections, late changes and inconsistencies.

So, our question to you: what's your style (guide)?