In preparation for autumn…

This Month’s Cover Story deals with a common problem that is still faced by those involved in the translation/localization process.

It seems that there is still a large group of people who deal with corporate documentation, but who are unaware of Terminology Management, what it is and why to use it.


To help shine some light on the topic, we decided to share with you our know-how and best practices in a two-part cover story. We’ll begin by examining Terminology Management and how to best apply it to keep your translation costs low. Part one will focus on an overview and the DOs, while part two (published next month) will focus on common pitfalls and the DON’Ts.


We hope you’ll find our guide useful.


Part One: Terminology Management (The DOs).

Terminology Management is an integral component of the translation/localization process. It uses glossaries to keep multilingual texts consistent and accurate. Surprisingly enough, it is often overlooked and its usefulness tends to be underestimated. That is why in this month’s cover story we will show you real benefits of using Terminology Management and what you should do when managing your glossaries. 


What is Terminology Management?

Typically, documents submitted for translation contain many terms, keywords, acronyms, synonyms, abbreviations, etc. When translating, linguists struggle to keep all these terms consistent especially if they were not clearly defined at the onset.


Terminology management helps to organize and catalogue your terms using glossaries. Glossaries maintain cross-document continuity by clearly defining the terminology used during translation. They assign a strict set of rules for term usage and force linguists to use correct terminology when working on your documents.


Why isn’t Terminology Management used as often as it should be?

Clients often neglect including Terminology Management in their translation request only because they view it as an extraneous cost. They forfeit the benefits that Terminology Management carries in exchange for lower quality, seemingly faster turnaround and a boatload of unforeseen problems.


Fortunately, a simple way to estimate the value of Terminology Management is to draft a cost-benefit analysis, or prepare an effectiveness study. Companies can then quickly identify hazards that result from missing terminology work. Those hazards commonly include: inconsistencies within content, erroneous use of terms, delayed time to market, complex rework and expensive re-publishing costs. If not spotted in time, these hazards can result in negative reaction to your content by the reader/end-user and have a detrimental effect on all your related branding efforts.


Remember that only after properly evaluating how much each hazard can apply to one’s content, can the decision maker justify using/skipping Terminology Management.


Terminology Management: best practice

Now that you know what Terminology Management is and what it does, let’s look at some best practice DOs and DON’Ts that will help you maximize its benefits and avoid pitfalls.




1.      Create a glossary
Creating structured, approved and updated glossaries, lets you effectively control your content’s terminology.


2.      Define a glossary type

There are different glossary types to consider. They include: UI glossaries (software dumps), glossaries of untranslatable terms (product names, etc.) and traditional glossaries (with core terminology).


When choosing a glossary type, you should also consider the following criteria:

a.    the type of content: technical, medical, general or marketing

b.    its purpose: should it contain only core terminology, or will it be a large general glossary for several projects (useful for technical content)

c.    time: glossary creation requires an upfront investment in time when compared to standard translation. However, you will see your investment pay off starting with the first project. So, when planning glossary creation, allocate time/resources appropriately

d.    structure: consider useful metadata and how to structure your glossary around it (by part of speech, context, definition, concept orientation, modeling of entries, etc.)

e.    tools: there are tools that help you create, process, update and use glossaries in ways that seamlessly integrate into your overall authoring or translation process. Make sure to choose a tool that will work with your workflow and one that will suit your environment.


3.      Use only most basic forms of verbs and nouns (i.e.  non-conjugated and non-declined)

Keeping your terminology as simple (unambiguous) as possible, will make it easy to work with for anyone who needs to use it in the future.


4.      Perform glossary validation

Ensure that the core terminology is approved at the project start stage. Initial investment in Subject Matter Expert revision & approval can save money that would otherwise have to be spent on correcting terminology mistakes in translated files, at later stages of a project.


5.      Provide context

To properly translate a glossary, always provide as much context as possible (preferably via project files). Without  context, some terms can make little sense. If terms get translated out of context, they will not fit the target content. That in turn slows down overall translation as vendors will begin to communicate back all the ‘mismatches’ that appear in the quality assurance reports.


6.      Make sure to spell check your glossary

Glossary extraction should be performed only on content that’s free from spelling mistakes. Because a glossary is your starting point, you need to make sure that it is pristine and won’t become a root cause of subsequent problems.


Also, for English source glossaries, you need to decide on a uniform English standard to use, either British English or American English. This will help you avoid inconsistent spelling conventions like: “organisation” in the glossary vs. “organization” inside the text.

Be conscious of keeping your glossary terms consistent when hyphenating. Avoid having multiple versions of the same term like “popup”, “pop up” and “pop-up”. There are no specific rules in hyphenation. There is no right or wrong. So, it usually ends up being client preference. The key is to stay consistent with all your terms.


7.      Glossary updates and reviews


Avoid updating/creating glossaries in the middle of a project. The best time to update your glossary is either at the beginning of a project (with new project-specific terminology), or at its end (when translation uncovers that some changes to existing terms are desired, or that new terms should be added).


The only exception to the rule above is if a project is very long and complex, or if a glossary is product-specific and used on several projects. Then, regular glossary reviews are needed to ensure that the glossary is always up-to-date.



Preferably, only one person should be responsible for updating a glossary. It is best to assign a Subject Matter Expert of the target language to the task (for multilingual glossaries you will need separate SMEs for each language).

This SME needs to be aware that whenever s/he decides to change a term, that change will immediately introduce inconsistencies in Translation Memories, which use that glossary.


In such cases, if the project workflow blocks 100% matches/In-Content Exact Matches/Content Matches, you can end up with a different translation of a term in segments re-used from the TM, with quite another translation of a term used for new segments.



The process of approving new entries for highly technical terms requires SME approval. If you let other users approve and add terms at will, you run a real chance of corrupting your glossary. If wrong terminology is added to a glossary you risk expensive rework costs to fix terminology mistakes at subsequent stages.



The best place to look for new terms to add to a glossary is in the comments, queries and feedback you collect from translators. You should also scan your Language Quality Assurance reports for issues that are flagged or ask your SMEs to provide suggestions of terms they would find useful.


(…end of part one)


Next month, we will publish the second part of:
Terminology Management (the DON’Ts).

In the meantime, to learn more about managing your translation processes,
visit our website or our downloads section.







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Terminology Management Tools

To effectively manage your Terminology, consider using tools and software created specifically to automate such tasks.


There are various Terminology Management tools on market, each with slightly different features targeted at different types of industries and their needs.


Choose one that fits your environment and gives you the option to customize it to your requirements. Consider an option that allows you to manage multiple users and control their access rights. Above all, a proper tool should let you automate the task of updating your terminology database.


Regardless of which Terminology Management tool you choose, it will make handling, updating, managing and controlling your terminology a lot easier.




·          Part Two: Terminology Management: (the DON’Ts)


·          Best Practice: Mobile Apps Localization


·          DTP focus: Designing Brochures for Localization



Read our free white papers on:

·          Medical Devices Companies’ Translation Needs


·          Using multi-lingual Google AdWords for Market Entry Services: Cheaper, better and faster ways to have new customers come to you


·          Translation Prices: Cost of Translation and Localization Services


·          10 STE Tips to Reduce Your Publishing Costs


·          Comparison Guide to STE Checker Tools






Argos Translations is a high-quality translation and localization services provider for all languages. We are ISO 9001:2008, ISO 13485 and EN 15038:2006 certified and J2450 compliant, while relying on strict LQA in line with LISA standards. Our client base includes many Fortune 500 companies. Our staff includes subject matter experts in the fields of medical devices, electronics, IT and machinery projects. Argos is the only major translation services provider that offers STE training and services. With offices spread across the globe in the US, Ireland and Poland, Argos provides dedicated customer service and global-communication coverage.

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