Technical Translations: A Guide to the Global Marketplace

We deliver consistent and accurate translations by creating bespoke glossaries for all your technical terms


Technical translation is a specialist area of translation that involves translating technical documents from one language into another. Technical documents include a wide range of different texts, such as user manuals, computer-aided design (CAD), software strings and patents.

Specialist knowledge for different documents

The level of knowledge required to translate a technical document will depend on the type of document. For some documents like articles, a general level of knowledge will suffice. However, other documents, such as product sheets for computer hardware, might need a level of knowledge equivalent to a professional within that sector.

When it comes to translating these specialist documents, your best bet is to work with a professional technical translator. They will not only have a strong command of both languages and your specific industry, but also any technical jargon involved.

But specialist knowledge goes far beyond terminology alone. It is important for technical translators to also be aware of the environment in which the source text was produced. As such, they must have an understanding of the industry as a whole in order to ensure a high-quality translation.

Translation technologies for better results

When it comes to technical translation, technological resources are key to producing high-quality, consistent results. Some of the main tools that technical translators rely on include glossaries, terminology databases, and translation memories.

These resources are all part of computer-aided translation (CAT) tools. By highlighting previously translated words or sentences, they save the translator time while also ensuring consistency across all documents. This facilitates the entire translation process, for faster results with a higher quality.

Machine translation for improved productivity

Another method is to use automatic translators. Back in its early days, machine translation (MT) had a reputation for producing poor translations filled with errors. However, like all technologies, MT has since evolved and we now have neural machine translation (NMT). Designed to learn much like the human brain does, with the right training, these engines can produce impressive results.

For even better results, MT can be used together with post-editing services. This combines the speed of MT with the linguistic sensitivity of a human. During post-editing, a professional linguist verifies and improves the words and phrases used in the machine-produced translation. This ensures that the target text is accurate and free of any errors.

Regardless of whether a translator uses CAT tools or MT, the results must be highly accurate and easy to understand. The success of your project relies heavily on the quality of your translation, making these tools invaluable to the technical translator.

Localising imagery for professional results

Technical translation requires a mastery of both the languages and specialist areas involved, but the variety of documents and formats makes this even more challenging. These documents can get very complex, also featuring drawings which might need localising to suit the target audience’s expectations. By localising the drawings, the translator can achieve clear and effective communication.

A translation agency specialising in technical translations

Technical translation is a vast and complex discipline. This means that in order to get the best results possible, you should always turn to professionals specialising in your industry. Using a variety of different tools and techniques, they will be able to provide you with accurate and consistent results that protect your company’s reputation.

At Intertranslations, we offer a comprehensive range of technical translation and localisation services specialising in different sectors. Using professional CAT tools in all our translation processes, we produce bespoke glossaries and translation memories for each of our clients. This allows us to speed up the translation process while ensuring consistency, also highlighting any repetitions for a fairer pricing system.

If you would like to learn more about our technical translation services, get in touch with one of our translation specialists today.

What are the challenges of technical translations?

Translating any document will pose a range of challenges for both the company requiring the language services, and the professionals carrying out the translation. Technical documents are especially complex, which is why it is essential to choose your translation agency carefully.

But what makes translating technical texts such a challenge?

1. Multiple industries

Technical translation is needed by multiple industries, from engineering, automotive and industrial, to software and medical. Technical documents can refer to:

  • Instructions for use
  • Directions for use
  • User guides
  • Software, product or instruction manuals

Each of these different documents will not only contain specialist terminology, but they will also follow language and country-specific rules and regulations.

As such, if the translator is to produce an accurate translation, they will need expert knowledge of the different technical and specialist terms. They will also need relevant experience within the industry in order to understand each document and know how best to translate them.

This means that your translator must be a subject matter expert within your specific industry if they are going to produce a high-quality translation.

2. Language proficiency

Along with industry-specific knowledge and expertise, language proficiency is equally as important and challenging in technical translation. When delivering a professional translation, it is not enough to speak a language. For high-quality results, translators should be native speakers of the target language in order to account for all the subtleties and nuances of the language.

They must also master specialist terminology across both the source and target languages. Being a subject matter expert with the necessary linguistic skills, they will be able to translate the information precisely and accurately from one language into another.

As such, in order to overcome the linguistic challenges involved in technical translation, it is essential that translation agencies work with native speakers.

3. Constant evolution

In today’s globalised world, industries are constantly evolving with frequent updates and changes. This in turn can impact the way industry-specific terminology is used.

A professional translator will understand just how quickly things can evolve, and must keep themselves up to date with technical terminology and subject matters. This is the only way to ensure that a translation is precise and accurate, using all the current terminology correctly.

The goal of translating technical documents is to make the original text understandable for the target audience. Not being aware of any changes and using outdated terms might have the opposite result, which could consequently tarnish the reputation of your company.

Striving for quality

At Intertranslations, we are fully aware of the challenges faced when it comes to translating technical documents. That is why we are constantly working to offer you the best possible services in the market.

Working with native speakers who are experts of your industry, we tailor our approach to suit each of our clients’ requirements. Depending entirely on your personal needs, there are two possible translation solutions we can use.

For translations intended for internal use or informative purposes…

In order to save on time and money, we can offer our advanced machine translation solution. Using translation memories created by experts over the last 25 years, we have trained our neural machines to deliver fast, high-quality translations at competitive rates.

For translations intended for formal use…

When handling urgent projects, we can create a customised team of linguists and industry experts dedicated to your translation project. They will all be native speakers of your target language, working with term bases and glossaries created from your documents to crosscheck for any discrepancies. By creating teams and using professional translation tools, we can deliver high-quality, consistent translations at a faster pace.

Language solutions for all your needs

We understand that every project is unique, depending entirely on your industry, text type, target audience and the purpose of your translation. That is why we offer a range of services which cover all your communication needs, from translation and localisation, to proofreading and multilingual desktop publishing.

If you want to learn more about our translation processes or have a request, please contact our specialists.

Technical writing is more than just writing manuals. While user guides and manuals tend to be the most common types of technical documentation, the list of technical documents goes far beyond and includes patents, product sheets, catalogs as well as material safety data sheets.

We will look step by step at the different types of technical documents that can exist in the technical translation field. Technical translation is made up of several areas, each with its own technical specifications. Companies use various technical documents such as patents and business contracts.

They can be classified in different ways. By the level of information they provide, or by the audience they target (general public or companies). However, the most efficient way would be to classify them by type.

First, we have the traditional documentation, that is the most common type of all. It is composed of two subcategories, procedural technical documents, and technical specification sheets.

– The first subcategory includes all documents that guide the user when using a product or service. That is to say, the assembly, use or maintenance of a material or software. This category includes user manuals, installation guides, user guides, assembly plans, technical manuals, operating manuals and maintenance manuals.

The instructions they contain must be as clear as possible to facilitate the understanding of the users. If the instructions or diagrams are confusing and interfere with your users’ understanding, they will have difficulty completing their project. For example, if a person orders a product, looks at the user manual, but doesn’t understand anything and assembles it in a wrong way. In this case, the product will not work the way the manufacturer designed it.

– The second subcategory refers to the product or software technical specification sheets. They explain the main technical characteristics of the product and its components.

The second type is the troubleshooting and knowledge-base documents (a library of information about your product or service). Everyone has dealt with this type. They are used to provide an answer to a problem, but also to diagnose it.

Among the documents of this type are troubleshooting guides and one of the best-known must be the FAQ (frequently asked questions). It consists of predefined questions and answers.

The third type is marketing-related texts such as case studies or white papers. The main goals of a white paper is to highlight a company’s success and help to promote the products or services of a company. On the other hand, case studies are self-contained stories of a particular case or cases, within a real-world context. The fourth type includes software documentation such as API documents (tutorials and guides), but also algorithm and code documents. This type is mostly IT orientated.

The fifth type of document includes all the internal communication documents of a company, such as newsletters, internal journals, or the social network of a company.

Technical documents are very present in everyday life, there is always an installation guide when assembling a piece of furniture for example. There are so many fields and types of documents that it is important that you entrust your texts to technical translation professionals. Their work is very important, because if a mistake is made, your project could be negatively impacted. Therefore specialized technical translators must be experts in the field, in the source language as well as in the target language.

If you are looking for a specialized translation agency for your documents, contact us. At Intertranslations, we offer fast, quality service in more than 300 language pairs. Each time we have a project we carefully assign it to one of our linguistic experts that is specialized in the field required for your technical writing and that is a native speaker of one of the two languages of your linguistic combination. This method allows us to guarantee an accurate translation without errors. In addition, our network of specialized professionals has unlimited access to our technological resources to improve the services we provide you. These resources include companies’ glossaries, translation memories but also specialized dictionaries in various fields such as legal translation or marketing translation. Our years of experience in translation gave us the opportunity to understand the sector and the demand needs. We can provide fast, accurate and efficient translations at competitive prices for our clients.

Technical translation is the translation of any technical document from one language into another, with a specific target audience in mind.

Technical documents cover a wide variety of text types, including user manuals, technical guides and patents. As such, technical translation is essential for many industries. From engineering, IT and electronics, to medical, manufacturing and industrial, nearly every industry will find itself in need of a technical translator at some point.

Like all types of translation, it requires in-depth knowledge of both the source and target languages. However, technical translation is a highly complex discipline. Each field has its own specific terminology, which a translator will need to master before they can start translating those technical documents. But what else goes into producing a high-quality technical translation?

1. Quality source documents, quality translations

First and foremost, in order to get off to a good start, you need to make sure that the source document is accurate and free of translation errors. A poor-quality source document will only generate a poor-quality translation, which will complicate the translator’s task and cause confusion. If those errors prevent the translator from understanding the source text, the translation may be completely wrong.

As such, the technical content needs to be of high quality right from the start. This will give your translator the best chances of being able to clearly understand the text, and therefore deliver an accurate translation.

2. Use native speakers with expertise

Your translation project needs to be carried out by professional translators who are native speakers of the target language. They will be able to understand any subtle linguistic nuances, and know the correct phrasing and terminology to be used in your target document.

They will also know exactly where to simplify the language used while maintaining the overall tone of the document. By using simple words and keeping the use jargon to a minimum, the translation will be clearer and easier to read.

Wherever jargon cannot be avoided, then subject matter experts will be able to choose the correct technical terminology for a professional translation. They will also be able to create a technical glossary containing all the right terms, which can in turn speed up the translation process and ensure consistency across all documents.

Working with native speakers who are subject matter experts will deliver a translation that is coherent and fluent while using all the right terminology.

3. Localise your documents to suit your audience

As well as text, many technical documents also contain diagrams, graphs, schematics, and images. If these appear in your document, the caption is not the only thing you need to translate. You will also need to ensure that the illustration is technically and culturally relevant, which might involve adapting the image to suit your target audience.

Depending on the source and target languages, the quantity of words in the translated document might also differ. This can impact the way the text sits in the original document, and

might mean that the layout needs adapting to fit the translation. By using multilingual desktop publishing services, you will receive professionally designed documents ready to present to your audience.

Why should you choose a professional translation agency?

When working with non-professionals, you run the risk of having errors in your translation. These errors can have serious consequences, costing more time and money in the long run. This is why we always advise hiring professional language service providers, such as a specialist translation agency. That way, you can guarantee that you will receive a high-quality translation produced by an expert in your field.

Faster results, higher quality

Using professional services will give you faster results of a higher quality. Since professional translators handle technical documents on a regular basis, they have the knowledge and know-how needed to translate at a faster pace. Some professionals also use translation tools, such as machine translation or computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools.

CAT tools offer a range of handy features that help the translator speed up the translation process while also ensuring accuracy and consistency. By creating translation memories and glossaries, these tools highlight any previously translated content. This not only help your translator deliver faster, consistent results across current and future translation projects, but can also help save you money.

If you decide to hire a professional, then make sure that your document is delivered in the right format. Translation can be a very long process, and so sending editable documents right at the start will save both you and the translator time. Then, while they get to work producing quality results at a faster pace, you can dedicate more time to other aspects of your business.

We are ready to help

At Intertranslations, we offer a wide range of professional translation services in different sectors, including technical translation services. Our specialist translators use all the current translation technologies, delivering fast and accurate translations every time.

If you want to learn more about our technical translation services, contact one of our technical translation specialists today.

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