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How to Translate a Product Catalogue

What is the best, and quickest way to translate Product Catalogues?

Translating your product catalogue is a crucial business process. Catalogues are a most efficient way for businesses to inform their customers, and promote their products. Furthermore, for businesses looking to expand into foreign markets, it is imperative to translate (and localise) the product catalogue — as research has shown that 77% of consumers prefer to shop in their native language. More importantly, 70% of those surveyed would not enter a transaction where the information is in their language, but poorly translated. It seems that a quality product is not enough. It is quality communication of that product that determines buying decisions.

Usually, a catalogue describes product items in detail: ie. the model, its features and benefits, and the price. It also may include product images to show the physical characteristics of the item.

Five key issues to consider:

1. Product name / model

Will you be translating your product name/model? If so, it is important to start by building a Glossary. This will ensure that the same translation is used each time, in each language. For example, if you have decided on “white, organic cotton T-shirt” — it should be the same wording in your catalogue, on your website, and in your marketing and advertising copy. So once we have translated the item description into, say, Spanish; we add that description to your (client-specific) glossary, ensuring it will be used consistently.

2. Features / Benefits

The decision to translate a product catalogue has a significant impact, not only on the content itself, but also on the layout of the document. Different languages take up different amounts of space — often very different amounts, as is the case with English and Spanish, for example.

So if your features are in a bulleted list — be sure to leave additional space for a longer translation. Alternatively, create a table in which the cells will expand to accommodate extra words. In addition, you will need to link the text boxes to ensure the content flows.

3. Pricing and units

If you’re converting currencies, get in touch — as this is a big topic for discussion! However, you will certainly want to ensure the decimal is correct: English and Chinese use a decimal point (20.99€) while most other languages use a decimal comma (20,99€). Thousand separators also vary. This effects not just the price, but also any measurements (product size, dimensions, etc). This conversion can be managed easily using REGEX (GREP) and properly formatted stylesheets.

4. Product Images

It is important that any images which relate to a specific product are ‘attached’ to that product text. Either as an anchored object, or by using a table to format your pages.

5. Table of Contents / Index

A product which appears on page 57 of your English-version catalogue, may end-up on page 58 when you translate to German. This may also push other items onto a following page. To manage this, create automated Tables of Content and/or Indices, which can be easily updated post-translation.

Likewise, if your catalogue in PDF-version, uses Cross-References and/or Bookmarks — which are, of course, incredibly useful — then these should also be automated.

In general…

It’s important to pay close attention to the early stages of design work. For instance, it is essential that the text ‘flows’; that the format accepts text segments of varying length; and that you avoid the use of manual line breaks within paragraphs (and titles).

Factors such as these, should be taken into account by whoever is designing the document — and this is why it can be very beneficial for the language service provider to play a role in document design.

Once we enter the realm of multilingual translations we sometimes find ourselves modifying various documents to accommodate various translations. Whereas the modification of the original document — which we would only need to do once — would have sufficed. It is often more efficient to modify the original document in anticipation of the translation

For more information on this topic: Translation and Desktop Publishing — why pay more?

Updating your catalogue

Our translation software ensures that when you need to update your catalogue, it will be easy! We understand that producing a ‘new’ version often doesn’t involve very much actual revision. We use (client-specific) translation memories and termbases. This means, we only need to translate the text that is new or amended — rather than translating the entire document from scratch. This, of course, saves you both time, and money.

Integrated translation and DTP: Benefits to you

We are able to offer considerable savings to our customers by managing the DTP (layout), as well as the translation(s) of a catalogue:

  • Reducing Time-to-market — As soon as the translations are ready, you can release your document. No more back-and-forth emails between designers, translators and project managers.
  • Reducing Costs — No additional graphic design costs.
  • Reducing the Hassle! Simply send us the document, and we’ll send it back… finished!

Finally, a high-quality product catalogue should incorporate the linguistic nuances and culture of the target market. Hiring experienced, native-speaking, translators is as important as having local boots on the ground.

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