technical translation process

This post is also available in: Français (French)

This is the technical translation process from receiving an initial job request to getting, managing and completing and invoicing technical translation orders.

technical translation process

The technical translation process with Trello

The idea is to describe the technical translation process itself. I have an organized management system to deal with orders and opportunities.

Technical Translation process
Process stepCheckInformation needed
Opportunity confirmedCustomer PO number
Create card in Task managerNumber of wordsClient companyAgency nameJob typeEstimate number
Set up Trados projectSource document
Set up project in accessNumber of wordsClient companyAgency nameDomainJob typeEstimate number
Translate (do the work)
Proof readstandardize termsterms database project
Check with antidote
Read back text with text to speechOptionalMicrosoft Word
Generate target documents
Deliver target to customer
Update WPH rate in Trello and AccessTrello Card and Access project number

System to respect deadlines

I have developed this order management process over time to ‘productionise’ production. The objective is to have a repeatable process, not reinvent the wheel for every order.

My objective is also to demonstrate to my customers that I manage orders and give them confidence that I will keep to deadlines on allocating a job.

This makes work more achievable and helps me predict delivery deadlines more reliably.

meeting order deadlines

The job request

An order will come in via email from established customers and is sent automatically to my Trello inbox.

implementing the GTD idea of having an inbox in Trello

I move it from the inbox into the production board

production board include opportunities and translation orders

I add additional data to the Trello card: customer name, number of words, price, task type (translation, proofing, transcription) and PO number when confirmed. 

Once the job confirmed, I create an estimate in QuickBooks.


and then enter the estimate number back into a custom field on the Trello card.

image 1

These fields are available by installing the ‘custom fields’ Trello power-up:

use the Trello custom fields power-up to manage technical translation orders

Technical translation process – dataflows

These are the data flow associated with the Technical translation process with Trello

  1. Email comes into Trello
  2. Job request confirmed
  3. Estimate raised in Quickbooks
  4. Estimate number copied to Trello
  5. Terms project opened in Access
  6. Project id copied to Trello card
the dataflows for the technical translation process from incoming email through Trello, Quickbooks and Access

Data available on the Trello card

Centralizing this data on the Trello card makes following up much easier.

the data to manage technical translation orders

Essentially the translation job is defined by the number of words, the task type (translation, revision, transcription), the price, the customer and the due date.

This data enables you to determine if the job is feasible (number of words + task type + due date). Once complete, Quickbooks is the basis for payment (estimate converts to invoice, invoice sent to customers). The estimate is ready for invoicing, it already includes the PO number.

You still need to follow up (on time) payment in Quickbooks (use ageing).

Doing the translation

I use Trados Studio Freelance 2019 with Dragon Naturally Speaking.

the translation process from a confirmed opportunity to proofreading and returning target documents

I do my translations in Trados, which decomposes documents into 2 columns, source and target. Once all segments are complete, check the spelling and grammar with Antidote, then generate the target document.

Sometimes I read back a target document to myself with (if in Word) text to speech, to get a feeling for whether it sounds right, then correct it.

Using Trados

trados presents documents in 2 columns, source and target

Trados can accept almost any type of electronic document (see complete file list). Once imported, the document displays as two columns, source and target. You complete the target segment then export the target document which, translated, retains the original document formatting.

You may wish to use automated translation tools to ‘go faster’. Having done quite a bit of MTPE, I find these tools are of mixed quality. 

Dragon Naturally Speaking

I use Dragon to facilitate entering target text, saves keyboard time (and RSI), is quicker.

Terms database

While working, I use a terms database which I built in Microsoft Access.

technical terms translation database

This helps me store terms for future reference, but also to standardize terms within a project. It is a handy way of exporting terms for customer review during or at the end of the project.

Also, keeping vocabulary categorised makes it possible to take on repeat work from the same end customer and maintain standard vocabulary without having to re-research the domain.

The database also helps me to generate statistics on the volume of translation, revision and transcription words done based on recent projects.

words translated 2018 to 2019

Proofreading (Antidote)

I double-check my work and validate all segments. Then I use Antidote grammar checker.

use antidote grammar and syntax checker in technical translation

Antidote checks can be more or less in- depth. The basic check is just looking for spelling mistakes.

The advanced check is about phraseology, the way sentences are structured, whether they use repetition, too many prepositions, active or passive tenses, etc.

Technical, audiovisual, artistic, literary, legal all have different types of checking. You don’t use Antidote that much in a scientific text, but in literary or tourism texts you do.

Text to Speech checking

I use a very interesting Text to Speech Trados plugin tool from SDL. It’s a very useful way to double-check translated text to make sure it ‘sounds right’.

image 5

Technical translation process is complete

Once I complete the job, I move it over to the ‘done to invoice’ column in Trello. I reference my Quickbooks estimate which I can promote to ‘invoice’ and send the invoice to the customer according to their invoicing policy (on completion, end of the month …).

By marklewis

Mark Lewis is an Access developer, business analyst turned technical translator, fluent in French and English

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