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How to create a Glossary or Terminology Database

How to create a Glossary or Terminology Database

Every company, author or blogger, should create a Glossary (also known as a Terminology Database or Termbase). Regardless of the volume and scope of your documentation, this will ensure clarity and consistent messaging. In this article, we will be at looking at how to create a Glossary, and how to maintain it. But before we get there, what is a Glossary?

What is a Glossary?

A Glossary is simply the list of terms that are frequently used by the author(s). In academic papers these terms are usually written at the end of an article, thesis, or book. Glossaries are simple lists, or larger databases, containing words (terminology) preferred by each client. In other words, a list of words in a spreadsheet. Typically, preferred translations appear in the next column.

Find out more: Technical glossaries and Termbases

How to create and maintain a Glossary

Step 1: Know your audience

First of all you should define your targeted audience, and corporate style. Is your style formal, and will be targeted towards experts or educators? Or is it more causal, inclusive, intended to introduce your product to new customers, or people without insider knowledge. Once these parameters are defined, you’ll be able to decide on what words to pick, to adapt your Glossary to your preferred style and tone.

Step 2: Identify both uncommon and frequently-used Terms

Note all the terms/words that you feel might not be familiar to your target audience, and also repeated terms; that should be translated the same way each time. For example, the term medical condition should not be translated into Spanish in different ways. The translator could translate it as ‘enfermedad’‘afección’ or ‘problema de salud’. They are all correct. However, we should always choose the option agreed in the Glossary, to maintain clarity and a consistent message.

Step 3: Market research

Ask your customers whether your messaging is clear, or which terms were unclear, and they had to look up elsewhere.

Step 4: Gather The Terms

Gather the terms in an Excel spreadsheet, Word doc, or similar.

Step 5: Define The Terms

Clearly define each term, and make sure that you keep any additional explanations simple and to-the-point. This will help the translator to choose the most appropriate translation.

Step 6: Review the translations

Review the translations to confirm you are happy with the equivalent terms chosen (you will need to do this for each language). You may need to use a specialist reviewer for this process.

Step 7: Keep it Up-to-date!

Add terms relating to any new products, new technology, or to reflect changes in common usage.

Click to find out more about Glossaries

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