If you take a few minutes to prepare and provide a detailed explanation together with your language task, the translation agency project manager shall be better equipped to provide the linguists with proper instructions.
The time spent on prepare a useful briefing is time well spent down the line. It helps to ensure that you receive a product that lives up to your expectations and which is suitable for the intended purpose.
But what is a good briefing and what should it contain?
If you follow the advice below, you will be well helped.
If your company has decided to centralise language tasks with one provider, meaning that multiple departments and employees order translations, it can be a good idea to prepare a template to be completed and submitted with each assignment. See a template sample below.
Provide information regarding:
1. Subject, objective, and recipient
- What is the subject of the text?
When you provide the subject of the text by way of key-words, the project manager and linguist get a brief introduction to the text and what it is about. This helps create an overview and better understanding of the task.
- What type of text is it?
In order for your project manager to be able to selected the right linguist for the task, you should state what type of text you have.
Our linguists have different specialisations, and even if a text is from a pharmaceutical company, this does not necessarily mean that it is medical in nature. It may as well be a legal text, an HR text, or a financial text, such as, for example, a quarterly report.
- What is the objective?
When you make it clear what the objective of the text is (to sell, inform, create an action, etc.), the linguist will have better basis for supporting the objective via their use of language.
It is also valuable to know in what context or in which medium, the text will be applied: Press release, website, advertising, presentation, etc.
- Who is the recipient?
Whether the text is to be used internally in the company or is aimed at the end-user can be highly relevant to the tone and style of the text. It is also useful to the linguists to know if the text will be read by professionals or it must be possible for laypersons to understand it.
It would also be useful to know in which market the text will be used as this may influence the linguistic and cultural localisation of the text.
2. Terminology, style, and tone of voice
- Do you require the use of specific words and terms?
If you would like for specific words and terms to be translated in specific ways, you should provide a term list with the assignment information. The list can contain the industry and company specific words and terms that you wish to see used, but can also contain a list of prohibited words and terms.
The best result is achieved if the term list can be integrated with the translation tool (CAT tool) in the term base to avoid the linguist missing anything.
If you collaborate with a regular supplier, both translation memories and term bases can be created for individual clients and your lists will be integrated in this.
- Do you have specific style and tone of voice requirements?
If you have specific style and tone of voice requirements for the text, it will be very useful if you state this. It could be a simple statement that you want an informal or formal tone of voice, that you would like the text to be in a simple, easily understandable language, etc. If you company has a language policy, this may provide the guidelines, and you can elect to provide this together with the assignment.
- Do you have reference materials, style guides, etc.?
If you have reference materials which you believe may assist the linguist, either to gain greater subject understanding or to be able to approximate a specific style and tone of voice, it is a good idea to provide this together with the assignment. Do feel free to explain why it was included and what you expect that the linguist will use it for.
Many companies have style guides to support their brands. When you elect to include this, it may save you time at the other end that you would otherwise spend on correcting basic set-up, etc.
- Would you like a translation that is faithful to the original or more free?
Depending on the type of text or the document, you may have different wishes in relation to the freedom that the linguist may enjoy when creating the new language version.
Some text types are best suited, for example, to a very direct translation in which the linguist stays 100% faithful to the source text. This is the case for instruction manuals, installation manuals, legal documents, etc.
For other text and document types, the linguist will have to break free from the source text in order to create a good target language text. This is often the case for website text, brochures and other marketing texts, etc.
Knowing the client’s expectations is crucial, and so this is one of the most important pieces of information you can provide your project manager.
3. Process, delivery, and format requirements
- Do you have specific delivery and deadline requirements?
Remember to state if the assignment is to be delivered to someone other than yourself so that the documents or the link to download the documents are sent to the correct recipient.
If the deadline for delivery is very short, you should notify your project manager as soon as possible – by stating it in the email subject field, via a telephone call, or the like.
Even if you do not have a specific delivery deadline for your assignments, we will always agree a delivery date. It is, however, useful for the project manager to be advised of any flexibility you may have, so that they can better plan and prioritise assignments if, for example, your company suddenly submits a rush job.
- Do you have any specific procedural requirements?
It is generally a good idea to advise your project manager of the assignment work-flow.
If, for example, you perform an internal proofreading after receiving the assignment, the linguist or the project manager may elect to integrate notes for the proofreader about issues for them to be aware of.
If, however, the document must be ready for immediate publishing after receipt, it will also be an advantage for the project manager to know this.
- Are there any specific layout and format considerations to make?
In case of special elements, images, etc., to consider, it would be very useful if you could state this early on.
This could be image text, for example, which you want translated, restrictions or requirements related to sentence length, etc.
The more information the project manager has about your task, the greater the chances that you receive back a product which matches your expectations. The key issues are good communication, close contact, and following up during the entire process.