Formatting text for translation and the glossary of terms

Formatting text for translation

Lately we have often been faced with the problem of formatting translation texts. That’s why we’ve decided to share more about the format your text should take when you hand it over to your translator.

Our clients and people who have never dealt with translations don’t realise how demanding it is for professionals to perfectly render the exact layout and formatting of the translated document.

When it’s just a few pages, it’s not so hard to keep track. But as the number of pages increases (in the case of large works or books), it becomes harder to make sure that there is no difference between the source text and the translation. The editable variations are endless. Attention to detail is paramount:

  • bold, underline, italic,
  • larger type,
  • smaller lines in footnotes,
  • complicated tables that have to be completely redone,
  • the table of contents of the whole document, indicating the chapters and pages where they are found,
  • paragraph tabbing must be the same throughout the whole document,
  • headings and subheadings with different fonts or colours or sizes,
  • line spacing, etc.

Formatted translation of texts we receive in noneditable format

When the client wants a translation from a noneditable format, the translator must carefully monitor the two texts side by side. They must intervene in the editable version so that the two documents are identical. This whole editing process, stretching over dozens or hundreds of pages, is more tedious than the translation itself. It also requires advanced knowledge of Office suites.

That’s why we decided to charge separately for formatting noneditable texts to match the original.

The glossary of terms

We’d also like to draw your attention to the glossary of terms. This is an appendix to the text to be translated, which is always welcome.

If you want a specialised text translated – for example, a document in the medical domain – remember that the translator, although an expert in the foreign language, is not a doctor. And technical documents are precisely those that do not tolerate any kind of confusion, vagueness, improvisation or lack of clarity. In these cases, the glossary of terms becomes essential.

There are also situations when, in the course of working with large companies, the translator finds that among internal departments certain terms have acquired a specific meaning. For example, a well-known multinational company in the communications sector uses the term “churn” (from “churn rate”) to refer to all their customers who have switched to other providers, although a simple dictionary lookup of the verb “to churn” finds the meaning to be “beating the milk to make butter”. Although it may seem odd, churning refers to the process of stirring, similar to what happens with customers rotation.

So here’s how the glossary of specific terms used in company documents is a must.


Remember that when you submit to us a document in Word format (it allows us to edit it without restrictions), together with a glossary of special terms, the translation we deliver to you will automatically be faster, more professional and completely accurate.

Quality matters a lot in professional translations, which is why we also need your involvement.

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