15 Best Applications for User Manual Translation

March 5, 2024
8 minutes
15 Best Applications for User Manual Translation
Table of Contents

No matter what product you are developing, you always need to translate user manuals.

When you purchase your microwave oven or other appliances, you may encounter smaller manuals supplied with it or more detailed, more complex and more formidable manuals for industrial purposes. All user manuals, regardless of their purpose and scope, need to be accessible and easy to understand for your international customers. Thus, you will need translation services.

user manual translation

Guidelines for businesses inform employees at the company about a variety of topics, such as how to perform maintenance, supply chain, HR, security or other duties. When your company goes global, you'll need the same high-quality manuals that cover other language groups.

Whether you are already in the market or planning of penetrating the market, such guides are of great importance to impress your customers and build trust in your brand. To make a good impression, you need to make sure all your content is translated accurately and consistently.

Even a single mistake can cause problems and mislead customers, which may cause your company's reputation to get damaged or to be subject to high compensations..

Over the years of working with our customers on user manual translations, we have gained detailed knowledge of important aspects that contribute to a smooth and cost-effective translation process. In this article, we will share our knowledge on the subject to help you create truly multilingual user manuals that will improve the experience of your customers and product users.

Make use of Subject Matter Experts

Make use of Subject Matter Experts

Most companies only ask whether the translator is fluent and effective in the source and target languages. However, this aspect alone is not enough for quality user manual translation.

User manuals contain technical jargon related to a specific industry. Therefore, the translator must be proficient in both languages and have sufficient knowledge about the relevant sector.

Ask your translation project manager questions about how they select the linguists to work on your content. You should also ask about the details of the resources your translation company uses. In this way, you will have an idea about whether the translation will be successful or not, even before the translation is conducted. This will not apply if you work with freelance translators.

Imagine you have a manual on how a product works and you want to translate it into Spanish or French. If the translator does not have in-depth knowledge of the topic or relevant industry, he or she may miss important details or avoid adding a point to the content. If the document in question is a safety guide, such errors and omissions may lead to injury or death.

Technical translations are generally focused on the relevant field. A qualified translator must have many years of experience in the field in question. He/she must have a background of professional training in technical translation and must have expertise in the required language pair.

Make sure the language level of the guide is understandable

Make sure the language level of the guide is understandable

If the guide is prepared for the people who are not from that specific field, make sure that the translation language is appropriate for them. If it is intended for an expert in the field, make sure that the same applies to the translated manual. Otherwise, wording may be perceived as imposing and overly simplistic, or language that is too complex and technical may alienate the customer.

Explain the User Manual Correctly

The translator must not only have a high level of knowledge of the subject, but also have an opinion on every part of the manual which does not mean that the manual should be memorized. The translator must review the entire manual several times and get to know the flow of the content and the words used.

Additionally, all available reference materials should be shared with the translator.

Reference materials, glossary or style guide, when shared with the translation company, help ensure the consistency and high quality of the translated content. Make sure the translators are provided with these resources before they start working on your content.

Know Your Target Audience

Know Your Target Audience

Guides are generally aimed at one or more designated audiences.

Knowing your target audience well is essential both in marketing your product and in creating a quality user manual. By conducting detailed persona studies, you can contact with your target audience using the right message through the right channels. In this way, you establish quality relationships and ensure customer loyalty. Make sure to deliver your translation provider with information about the target audience so they can use relatable terms and jargon.

Stay in Touch with Your Translation Company

Stay in Touch with Your Translation Company

Most companies contact professional translation services they work with, talk to the project manager, tell them what they want, and then wait for the project to be completed. However, that much of an interaction will not be enough for success.

You should maintain communication with the translation provider until the end of the project as you may have critical feedback to share. Be sure to stay in touch with your translation company so you can ask relevant questions, provide relevant clarifications, and learn more about the entire translation process.

Staying in constant communication will ensure that any clarifications needed, any ambiguities that need to be corrected or errors that need to be eliminated are promptly resolved and your expectations are quickly met.

Use Translation Tools

Use Translation Tools

One other aspect that will be beneficial is to make sure that your translation company uses CAT (Computer Aided Translation) tools. CAT tools streamline the workflow of the entire project and help manage the database. With CAT tools in place, project time can be cut in half and the workflow can be made more effective. Additionally, the use of these tools helps save time and costs.

Did you know that you can save up to 36% on your content translations by using Translation Memory?

Complete Your Product's Interface Translation Before Manual Translation

You must complete your interface translation before manual translation, by which you can share this with your translators and make sure that the manual and the interface match. Otherwise, inconsistencies may arise and increase your translation costs, causing you to lose valuable time and budget.

An image is worth a thousand words

An image is worth a thousand words

Images are more effective than texts. When you use diagrams and other visuals, it becomes easier for users to understand long and often difficult to understand texts.

Take Swedish home furnishings company IKEA, for example. They specialize in creating user-friendly guides that skillfully use visuals for functions that words may not be able to express. All furniture assembly guides use the same model, and this attracts great attention from users.

Do Not Place Text Inside Graphics Files

First of all, we should point out that placing text inside images is a common mistake. However, it is also possible to see many brands that implement this system. The mistake can work against your brand and make the guide even more difficult to understand. Remember, the more complex the guide, the more difficult it will be to understand.

To ensure effective translation, be careful not to format text as a non-removable part of images or other visuals.

Depending on your style guide, you can leave numbers or letters in the text and reserve space for graphics or a reference table. If the source material is in MS Word format, you can add text boxes to the images you want to use.

Leave As Much Free Space As Possible

Make sure there is plenty of empty space around your text as well as your images.

The more blank space you have, the more attractive it will be to the user and encourage more users to read. It is also extremely preferent for the translation process, making the process faster, easier and more cost-effective.

When you translate content from English to other languages, you may need more space for text than in the original file. English is a compact language. Be sure to leave space so that text in the target language fits in the same amount of space.

Otherwise, your manual may not be read correctly and translating it will require more work effort and time. The more revisions needed, the more time and money will be spent. These recommendations can be useful when compiling your content for translation.

Text in File Formats to be Shared Must Be Exportable

Make sure the text you provide is in a common and easy-to-use file format. Otherwise, translation costs may increase.

Many companies only work with standard file types. Let's assume you have a CAD technical drawing or a software interface that needs to be translated. In this case, it would be better if an employee from your organization converts this into a readable file that translators can work with efficiently.

Failure to do so may result in wasted time. The same applies when the project is completed. After you receive the file, you can convert it back to the format you want.

Review Your Documents Before Translation

Reviewing your documents before submitting them for translation can add value to the entire translation process as well as the final result.

You can have in-house experts review the files in detail, which will help you filter out various acronyms or specific phrases you use in your company that others may not understand.

Determine what you need in the guides and what you can do without. Make sure you provide your translation company with sufficient explanation for what will be included in the manual so that they can understand and translate these elements without difficulty.

A Translated User Manual Should Be Perfect

Make sure the final translation is as smooth as possible. Appropriate vocabulary use is as important as formatting. The longer the text is, the more likely users are to not read the entire guide and lose interest somewhere in the middle. A compact content is much more effective than a long content.

Accuracy Value of Translated Content

Fluency in the target language is not sufficient to ensure accurate and consistent translation. A technical document has no literary devices, cultural allusions, or any subtext.

With this type of content, all you need is to ensure that the content remains exactly as technical as it is in the source language. Your translation agency must ensure that the content is concise, accurate and transparent, to make sure that the client can easily understand and use the content when translated.

Multiple Drafts

Often content is created in multiple drafts before completion. The first draft being quite long, makes sure that it includes all the information in the source manual.

Make sure to send checked and approved content to your translation company, by which you will avoid the risk of applying changes and redoing the translation.

Obviously, if your system is integrated with your localization company's translation software, applying necessary changes will not slow you down. Talk to your translation provider about ways to make localization as seamless as possible from day one.

Deliver Your Multilingual User Manuals on Time and on Budget

Technical translation is not a translation that requires the use of literary words like Marketing translation  The main purpose is to provide information to the end user. Therefore, simplicity and clarity are important.

When doing a technical translation, the best practice is to screen for any ambiguous language and avoid such usage. Eliminating ambiguous elements can be achieved by following the above practices. Do remember to choose professional translators who are native speakers of the languages of your project, as well as sources experienced in your industry and subject.

Make sure you provide all relevant reference materials and information that will enable your translation company to provide translations that are as accurate and consistent as possible.

Gain praise from your international customers with a simple and easy-to-understand multilingual user guide that will enhance their experience and maintain your high reputation.