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How to Avoid Inconsistencies in Translation?

How to Avoid Inconsistencies in Translation?

Inconsistencies in translation consistency can lead to misunderstandings, errors, and a lack of clarity. It is important to avoid them in order to ensure that the final product is accurate and effective. In this article, we will discuss some tips for avoiding inconsistencies in translation.

First and foremost, consider what type of document and audience you have. While consistency is crucial in some contexts, such as using precise and consistent terminology in the fields of accounting, financial, medical, legal and technical documents, in other types of texts, the use of synonyms is attractive, entertaining and interesting.

Additionally, consider that while translation inconsistencies can be found in documents of any size, they are mainly found in translations of very large documents. One of the reasons why may be because the translation vendor decided to divide the document among several translators to meet the rush deadline provided by the client, which brings us our first recommendation.

1. Plan Your Translation Project in Advance

Advanced translation project planning is essential for avoiding inconsistencies in translation. This includes identifying the target audience, defining the scope of the project, and creating a timeline for completion. By planning ahead, you can ensure that all necessary resources are available and that the translation is completed on time.

Your brochure, publication or website launch likely requires extensive approval processes and participation of key stakeholders. Think of your translation project as a similar one to the English counterpart in terms of budget and timeline. The difference is that you won’t lead the project, but your translation vendor of choice will. Your translation vendor will pick the right native and professional translators, editors, graphic designers etc. to mimic your source file or asset into a translated version of it.

If the English version of your publication took 3 months to be ready, do not expect a translation into Spanish or any other language to take 2 weeks to have it ready, unless you are not interested in high quality native translation.

2. Make Sure Your Source Document is Consistent and Prepare a Glossary

If you are going to expect the translation to be consistent, you need to begin with yourself. Do not expect your translation vendor to provide terminology consistency when there is none. Always name the same things, the same way (terminology consistency), particularly in technical descriptions and instructions.

To ensure that the translation is consistent, it is important to use the same terminology throughout the project. This can be achieved by creating a translation glossary, which is a list of terms and phrases that are commonly used in the project. The translation glossary should be shared with all translators working on the project to ensure that the same terminology is used consistently. The glossary can also be used as a reference guide for future projects.

3. Do Not Divide Your Large Source File for Translation into Too Many Different Translators

This would be a recipe for true inconsistency. Even if the translators are qualified and professional, they all have different writing styles and can pick different translations for the same English word, and all translations can be totally accurate for the context. This could confuse your audience, give an unprofessional impression, and above all, result in misunderstandings.

4. Work with A Single Final Editor Only

This is the best practice for all publications and becomes essential if you do not have any other option other than dividing the document into several translators. During the translation editing process the editor will be in charge of detecting all inconsistencies and unifying the style and terminology in addition to double checking for accuracy, misspelling, typos etc.

You of course can have more than one editor or reviewer go over the document once the translation is complete, as many eyes and reviews can always be helpful. In terms of finalizing each draft in preparation for review, however, insist on a single final editor to be responsible for the document. This will make communicating back and forth more streamlined as well.

5. Prepare a Style Guide

Style guides are a valuable tool for ensuring consistency in translation. A style guide outlines the rules and guidelines for writing in a particular language. This includes rules for grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as well as guidelines for formatting and style.

Just like your organization has a Style Guide for your English collateral and content for your brand, you should have one for your translations. If you don’t have an in-house resource that can do this for you, require this from your professional translation service. They should be able to prepare this for you. This is key is producing a high quality translation. Should the translation use Initial Caps for titles as the English does? Would it be correct to do that in the translation? Should the translation vendor convert all references to inches to centimeters if Spanish translation is to be used in the USA? Should the tagline be transcreated or do you plan to keep it in English? How should translation display the date format? The answers to these questions should be found in a Style Guide.

By following a style guide, translators can ensure that their translations are consistent and accurate.

6. Use Translation Software and Translation Memory

Make sure your translation vendor of choice uses a-state-of-the-art translation tool that allows them to build a memory of your translations. This is not machine translation, rather a tool that enables them to be consistent when doing your translations. Translation software can be a valuable tool for improving consistency in translation, however, it is important to use these tools judiciously and to ensure that the final product is accurate and effective.

7. Provide Reference Materials

Make sure to share any existing translation you were happy with for your translators to use as a model. Your translation team would appreciate all context that you can provide and any reference information possible.


Avoiding inconsistencies in translation is essential for ensuring accuracy and clarity. By following the tips outlined in this article during your collaboration with Language Concepts, you can influence the quality of your translations, ensuring they are consistent, accurate, and effective.

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