The Importance of Writing for Translation

Affordable internet access and the expansion of the global market for technology products to previously untapped regions has increased revenue opportunities for technology companies of all sizes. Localization vendors and translators support the technology industry from prototype to release, ensuring products are compatible with the language and culture of target markets. However, many products are released internationally with inadequately translated documentation.

Writers and translators need to move beyond verbatim copies of the source text to consider aspects of context, power distance, the use of visuals, and other factors. Furthermore, writers should follow strict writing guidelines that assist accurate machine translation and allow for easy conversion into the target language. After translation, substantial post-editing is required that reflects the linguistic conventions of the target culture. Only then can a user guide be truly considered “user friendly.”

Consider the localization and translation issues that surface when translating product user guides for a Spanish-speaking, Hispanic-American audience. Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by over 35.5 million people aged five or older,[1] and Hispanic and Latin Americans comprised 50.5 million or 16.3% of the American population in 2010.[2]Coupled with an ever-expanding market of Spanish speaking customers in South and Central America, there is a crucial need to include Spanish-translated user guides with products released in the United States.

Much like their neighbour to the north, the population of the United States increasingly reflects a linguistic divide that must be accommodated. Technical communicators must continue to bear in mind the culture of their diverse audiences by following writing guidelines and best practices for efficient translation. Moreover, optimizing machine translation and translation post-editing are not just luxuries for wealthy transnational corporations; they are essential tools. The demand for translation technologies and localization experts will continue to expand as our world becomes increasingly connected.


[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Spanish Language in the United States,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed November 29, 2011).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “Demographics of the United States,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed November 29, 2011).


About paulkhillier

I am technical writer with a wealth of experience in education and design. Currently, I am furthering my advanced knowledge by studying Technical Communication at Seneca College in Toronto. Producing effective, readable documents is my passion, and I take pride in producing quality work.

Posted on December 9, 2011, in Opinion, Technical Communication. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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