What is a Style Guide?
A Style Guide is a collection of rules about your preferences regarding content formatting, writing tone, and style. It is a tool for ensuring the language and tone of your brand is found accurate and consistent in your translations.
A Style Guide gives translators a detailed overview of your company and brand, as well as preferred language conventions. Linguists can then access and referenced this document anytime when working on your translations in the CAT Tool
A Style Guide is meant to be a "living" document that changes as your content matures and evolves. Therefore, updating preferences is encouraged.
Style Guide Best Practices
Here are some best practices for improving your Style Guide and translation quality:
Provide as much background information as you can about your site or organization.
The better that a Translator understands who you are, where you come from, where you are going, and how you are getting there, the better they can interpret your message. Also, don’t just copy/paste your “About” page. Get your entire team involved in telling the story!
Take the time to explain what you do.
You know what you do, but not everyone else does. Explain it simply so that your translation team can also explain it in a foreign language.
Know your audience.
Narrow down the group or audience you are addressing. Is it made up of busy executives? Are they 20-something social app users? Describe your typical audience to your translation team so that they can use the most appropriate tone for their translations.
Research your target market.
Before you list your linguistic conventions, do your research. You might be surprised to find out that certain countries’ linguistic conventions are drastically different from yours.
Don’t limit yourself to one Style Guide.
Smartling lets you have as many Style Guides as you want, so go wild! Don’t do it just because you can, but because from one language to another, conventions, such as tone, use of formal language, etc. might not be the same.
List your references.
For certain languages, make sure your translation teams know which reference material to follow, such as a certain dictionary, technical, or industry-sanctioned lexicon, etc.
The more detailed you are about the specifics of your translations, the better the translation. You can add instructions for just about everything - from how you'd like dates, addresses, and abbreviations to be translated, to the length of the translation.
Update your Style Guide.
A Style Guide does not need to be a static document. On the contrary! Update it every time your company introduces changes to its own messaging.
Just because a translation resource team doesn’t get it right the first time doesn’t mean that your Style Guide was not useful or that the team is not good. Finding out what content Translators are struggling with might actually uncover inconsistencies in your own tone and messaging.
Learn how to create a Style Guide in Smartling.