From Angela Williams, Editor, Palio
Did you know that when you translate a document from English into Spanish, the copy length typically increases by about 25%?
This small tidbit of information may seem unimportant, especially in the midst of a multilingual marketing campaign, but planning for translation hiccups up front will help ensure your communications are as clear, engaging, and culturally appropriate in another language as they are in English.
Writing or designing for a translated piece? Keep these 5 rules of thumb top of mind.
1. Err on the side of lean. Chances are that if your English copy is teetering on the verbose side, the foreign language translation will too. Use clear, concise language, shorter sentences, and simple, standard constructions. Translation vendors charge per word, so wordiness will cost you.
2. Steer clear of idioms, colloquialisms, and jargon. Expressions or terms with unconventional meanings (eg, the bottom line, quick and dirty) don’t always have suitable counterparts in other languages. If you’re not careful, their translations may inadvertently come across as inappropriate, offensive, or confusing.
3. Avoid excessive use of acronyms. If there isn’t already an established foreign language equivalent for an English acronym (eg, the translation of HIV is VIH in Spanish), its spelled-out translation will tack on length very quickly – at a rate of a few extra words per mention.
4. Don’t skimp on the white space. An airy layout with a good amount of white space might look slightly odd before your piece is translated, but when your manuscript comes back 25% longer, you’ll be thrilled you don’t have to crop images or sacrifice design elements to cram in that additional copy.
5. Tailor colors and graphics to your target. Before you start designing, do your research. Consider your audience’s nationality, religion, and level of conservatism when selecting imagery. And be aware of how your audience views certain colors, which may carry different connotations or meanings in other cultures.
Your translation vendor should be able to approximate how much your copy length will increase based on the language and/or dialect into which you’re translating. If you’re not certain, find out. And then make sure members of your creative team are privy, too.
Palio is a full-spectrum global pharmaceutical and consumer advertising, marketing, and communications agency that excels in brand creation and specializes in brand strategy, product launches, global marketing, and digital and integrated media.