Welcome 2021 – we all hope that the new year will bring the decisive breakthrough, economic recovery and worldwide containment of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the first weeks – and probably also months – of the year are still marked by strict curtailment measures that affect us all.
We are tired of the numerous rules, instructions and restrictions. And now eurolanguage Fachübersetzungen’s first blog article of the year is about style guides of all things?
That’s right, because rules and guidelines are not just a necessary evil; they also provide clarity and safety in our day-to-day business. The new year is an ideal time to reorganise and systematically structure things and processes that had more or less followed a rule of thumb until now. This has advantages for everyone involved as time and costs can be reduced. Colleagues who are still working from home will also thank you.
In translation work, guidelines facilitate the entire work process – both for you as customers and for us as translators. And most importantly, the result benefits your company and your corporate image.
What value does a style guide add to translations?
You want your company and your organisation as a whole to be perceived consistently and coherently by your target group – from your internet presence to press releases, brochures and presentations. Several factors are critical to success here: the images presented, the colours used, the subjects chosen, and last but not least, the language you use to convey your messages.
As with corporate wording, the aim of a style guide is to ensure consistency in your national and international communications. However, a style guide goes a little further in the stylistic fine tuning of your texts and translations. The focus is always on consistency in the way language is used in order to underline the distinctive profile of your company and present a strong corporate identity.
Consistent communication standards
Yes, some effort needs to be put into creating linguistic guidelines for corporate communications. But when communication standards have been established beforehand, numerous tedious rounds of proofing become a thing of the past and you no longer waste time on the final adjustment of details. Formal language rules and design guidelines are not just a matter of taste; they give all texts a consistent line.
Here are some examples that show the points which – once established – help maintain a coherent corporate image:
The company name: How is it written?
Our Company GmbH
Is it ever ok to abbreviate the company name and if so, when?
The names of the different divisions:
- xxx Selected
- xxx Premium
- xxx Exclusive
- Managing director or CEO?
- Executive Board Member or Member of the Executive Board?
- Consistency in capitalising job titles
Language variant: Does your organisation use UK or US spelling?
What about country-specific words and idioms? For example, “cell phone” or “mobile phone”?
Headlines: What conventions do you follow for capitalising headlines? Only the first word or do you capitalise further words in headlines? Profits rise by ten percent or Profits Rise by Ten Percent?
How do you sign off? “With Kind regards” or “Best regards”? Do you add a comma after “regards,”?
Numbers: Written out in words up to 12 and from then in numerals?
Currencies: EUR – € – euro – with decimal points or without?
Do you write the currency in front of or behind the sum?
Large sums: Are million/billion written out or shortened to m/bn or mil/bil? And if so, with or without a dot?
Dates: TT.MM.YYYY – days with a 0 in front of a single digit or not? US or UK date format?
Times: How does your organisation write times?For example, 9:30 a.m. or 9.30 am?
Place names: What form should be adopted: Wien – Vienne – Vienna?
Abbreviations: Is there a uniform rule? Should abbreviations be translated and adapted or not?
Before the translators from eurolanguage Fachübersetzungen get down to work we draft a binding style guide at our translation agency in consultation with the customer in order to reduce the correction cycles needed. We use generally accessible media such as your website or any brochures and documents provided as reference material to gain basic information on the wording and language used by your company. Long-term collaboration pays off here as opposed to agency hopping. When the linguistic standards have been determined, your international communications can proceed smoothly, consistently and without errors, saving you time and money!
And let’s not forget that style guides always need to be adapted to the language in question. Your texts are transcreated in consultation with the native speakers in the country concerned. Their impact and the way that they are received are examined, discussed and implemented. Which turn of phrase and which abbreviations are commonly used and appropriate in the target country?
Creating a style guide for translations may seem a tedious challenge at first glance. But from our many years of experience we know that it always pays off. It’s a bit like finding the optimal line in the snow that enables you to ski down the slope effortlessly and efficiently.
We get your guideline on the right lines!
Article by Martina Schmid