Seven Tips for Making Your Glossary a Success
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Seven Tips for Making Your Glossary a Success

Seven Tips for Making Your Glossary a Success

Seven Tips for Making Your Glossary a Success

You’re seeing lots of linguistic errors in your materials and are struggling to find the root cause so you can nip them in the bud. You know that these linguistic errors are wasting time and costing you money.

The primary cause of rework is often inconsistent terminology — and if rework comprises an average of 15% of all globalization project costs, then fixing these issues suddenly becomes urgent.

Time to get a glossary

The glossary contains your key product-specific terminology and their approved translations. Glossaries enforce consistency, shorten translation time, and reduce costs. They are especially important for maintaining consistency if you use more than one translation resource.

It is one of the key tools called assets along with a style guide and Translation Memory that can help assure that all translated materials meet your quality requirements.

From good to great

In our experience, there are seven key things to do to make sure your glossary is as good as it can be:

  • Use metadata to guide the use of the terms. This can include the definition, context, part of speech, its source, and an approval date.
  • Automate its use. There are a variety of tools to assist with automation, usually embedded within a Translation Management System. As the translator works through your material, the glossary tool automatically suggests the proper term.

    Read more: 8 Features of Terminology Management Systems We Really Love

  • Narrow the scope. Your glossary should only include terminology related to your product, processes, and company. There’s normally no need to include industry-standard terms — translators will already know them.
  • Make it the right size. Let’s say your body of content is 40,000 words. Around 250 terms would be typical for this amount of content; fewer if the content is highly repetitive, more if the source text is especially complex and technical. This is 1% or less of the total word count.
  • Use the right source materials. Create your glossaries from terms in your product’s User Interface (UI) and User Assistance (UA) materials.
  • Be clear about language variants. For example, specify which form of Spanish (e.g., Latin American, Puerto Rican, and so on) the term applies to. Terms may differ from dialect to dialect. (Read more on Spanish dialects here).
  • Maintain it. It’s possible that your translator or an in-country reviewer suggests a better term. Or your UI might change. Maintenance means adding, changing, and deleting terms and their translations as required; we recommend bi-annual updates at a minimum.

    Step-by-Step Guide: How to Clean Up Your Translation Memories

A strong glossary can go a long way in reducing that 15% of program costs due to rework. It can also speed up work, improving your TAT. A poor glossary should not be a barrier to the speed and cost of your localization program.

How to create a glossary is the subject of this blog post.