A pencil eraser scrubbing out textIt’s not exactly front-page news: Most of us don’t enjoy extra work. There’s enough of that work stuff to do as it is.

So when you hear talk about the importance and value of style guides and glossaries—and oh, by the way, can you help in the process of creating those for you—it probably doesn’t sound too appealing.

Yes, you’re busy. But assuming the role of crinkly faced, wise elder for a moment, you must unlearn what you have learned. Because style guides and glossaries, while requiring a little effort upfront, actually go a long way toward saving you time, effort and money later on in your content creation lifecycle. It all goes back to ensuring quality at the source.

Why going without is risky

Let’s assume you’ve never heard of style guides or glossaries when authoring for content localization. Everyone in your research and development team uses the term “accelerate” in their original content that describes your new product’s performance, while your image-centric poets in marketing are opting for descriptors like “skyrocket.”

Even trickier, maybe you’ve got multiple divisions whose various team members are creating documents according to their own whims and standards. You can see how this makes for some considerable language consistency challenges for translation.

Now think about the people you’ve got translating your content. They do their best, but then a reviewer or end user looks at the document, possibly grimaces a bit—and gives you the bad news that it’s not hitting the mark in the target language. Maybe the word choice is a little off or it was authored for the wrong dialect—say, Latin American Spanish rather than Mexican Spanish. Who knew? Well, someone should have.

Result? It needs to be reworked, adding time and costs to the process. Everyone is stressed, especially you.

Save yourself some time (and grief)

You’ve figured out what you don’t want, but at what cost? You’ve arrived there in a roundabout way that squandered a lot of time and other valuable resources. Maybe your boss is mad at you because the wrong phrase was used in a mistranslation—your intended software glitch term “bug” got mistranslated, so now your content is talking about a “software grasshopper”—and so the new target audience’s first exposure to your brand is one of grossed out puzzlement. Not good.

To protect your brand’s best interests, it’s a wise idea to make style guides and glossaries available at the outset to ensure that translation and content localization projects go as smoothly and efficiently as possible. When your entire team and the translators are all on the same page, it fast-tracks the overall process, helps you meet tight deadlines and ensures consistent messaging in every target language. Everyone wins.

Spotlight on style guides and glossaries

So, naturally, you might be wondering: What exactly are style guides and glossaries? In short they are resources that help to educate your translators about your company—its brand identity, core messaging, chosen terminology and more—so ideally you should strive for creating them for each target language. Not sure which one to start with? A glossary tends to be the more critical piece. Here’s what you should know about these helpful resources:

A glossary is an organization’s list of approved, standardized terms in your source language that are specific to the company. It specifies the context and part of speech for each term’s usage, approved translations for each target language or dialect and even which terms not to translate. A glossary makes authoring content simpler at the start since there is no question about which terminology to use and when to use it, resulting in greater consistency.

Similarly, a style guide is a framework for understanding the textual and visual presentation of a company’s content. Typical elements include capitalization, modes of measurement when metrics are involved, tone and style of language—and even common errors to avoid when translating into certain target languages.

A little forethought now, a lot of time saved later

By spending a little time thinking about and standardizing your content’s terminology, tone, style and other particulars surrounding your brand and messaging, you can avoid headaches down the road when going global with your content.

Start by asking yourself and all stakeholders a few simple questions. What do you want to see in the documents? What don’t you want to see? Should the tone of the materials come across as quirky, formal, conversational? Which words or phrases should be included in the do-not-translate list (acronyms, trademarks or something else that is unique to the company)? Which terms does the company use most frequently?

Speed up with automation and linguist input

Some translation companies offer automation technology to help you create these resources. There is translation memory software out there that can crawl through your content, picking out often-used terms. While you should keep in mind that frequently used terms aren’t necessarily the best ones, this option can still save you a lot of time.

If you’ve got the time, means and inclination, you can also work with linguists who are residents of the country you’re looking to expand into—people who can create style guides and glossaries for you. These linguists can provide invaluable input on what kind of messaging will resonate best with target audiences since linguists are immersed in the language and culture, and possibly even your particular industry or field.

Indeed, sometimes a little extra work can spare you and everyone else from a whole lot of hassle down the road. Much like a regular oil change. Which is often one more thing most of us will happily put off—until we’re facing a major breakdown.

So, what do you think? Have you created these documents? If so, what would you share with someone who is considering the merits of style guides and glossaries? Hit us back below. And for a steady stream of advice in your inbox every week on how to spread your global messaging wings, soar on over to www.sajan.com/blog.