How NOT to Manage a Translation Project

After 30 years of translation work for many clients, on many subjects, there isn’t much we haven’t come across in one form or another whether it be an inscription on someone’s body, creating a translation to look like an ancient artefact; design of beautiful artistic materials and crafting elegant marketing content or precise legal versions – on paper, digital, voice, video, etc.

A recent project we’ve been working on relates to investment and property development. Nothing out of the ordinary, you ponder – this is what we do every day – you’re right!  However this particular project cemented in my mind some critical points on how to deliver a good, accurate and legally precise translation. I thought it was worth recapping.

Translators are usually the last link in a chain – in this case you’ve got financiers, lawyers, investors, developers, construction company, marketers, advisers and graphic designers – then us – Chinese translators and copywriters; one of us – many of them. The problem is that no one can agree on the English wording, let alone the design. Now as we approach version 21 on some of the marketing materials, version 26 on an application form and – scarily – when we’ve missed a few versions in the sequence for some of the items, we are losing the plot!

So many changes and mark-ups, deletions and additions, rearrangements and re-thinks: definitely NOT the recipe for a good pie. So I thought I’d put pen to paper. No matter what type of translation you are after, no matter what the language – here are some pointers for a good end result.

How to get a great translation? See below check list for getting the quality translation on time.

1.    Define your target: for most of our clients, they are wanting to communicate and reach out to a Chinese audience, either in China, or the local Chinese audience in Australia

2.    Understand the goal, or the purpose of your message. Are you wanting to translate your company brochure, website, or do you need to translate your company video to Chinese and add Chinese subtitles, or it is a legal or text-based document, etc?

3.    Define the best medium to present it, whether it is published on your website, your Chinese social media such as your official Wechat account, Red or another social media influencer’s account? Talk to one of our communications experts to get some ideas/experience at the outset.

4.    Always have your content reviewed by another team member, to ensure it is final and free from errors

5.    Layout/design with audience in mind, or send on for to us for feedback

6.    Brief and discuss with our translator your aims, deadline, target audience. Let us read the text and review the layout (if ready); raise any questions and confirm quote

7.    Package up the artwork files (InDesign or other program to include all fonts and links)

8.    Advise translator of end format required and lock in deadline

9.    Be available for any questions or suggestions

10.    Receive the finalised work from translator. Check it is in the required format; do any internal reviews and advise of any changes required.

NB Chin’s thorough process has already involved translation, review, typesetting and proofreading.


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