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Ideally your translation project runs smoothly, however, they can sometimes be far from neat and tidy. And they usually don’t tend to take the path of least resistance. Because of so many variables in the mix, a translation quality assurance checklist can help keep things on track and ensure nothing gets missed.

Checklists are tools that you, your language service provider (LSP) project manager and linguists can all use so everyone can confidently say the deliverable is ready for your global audiences. A translation quality assurance checklist is usually used by the linguists and can take on many forms and vary by project phase and company department.

One all-encompassing checklist won’t be very efficient and we recommend working directly with your LSP so that your checklists are much more focused to the specific department and phase of the workflow. If people have to scan past checklist items that don’t pertain to them it’ll be more time consuming and be easier for things to get missed.

Customizing the checklist to cover your specific needs might take a little forethought—and even require tweaks down the road—but will ultimately save you, and your language partners, costly time and rework.

Types of checklists

The sky’s the limit when you are looking to add tools to improve both translation quality and project processes. While we’re using the term translation quality assurance checklist rather brazenly these usually refer to checklists that linguists use while they’re translating your content. In general, though, there are many other checklists that could be useful as quality checks throughout the entire workflow.

Checklists used by your LSP project managers might include a project intake checklist to ensure all of the vital project information is gathered up front—setting clear expectations as to what’s needed.

Items on this checklist could include:

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Content type

Instructions, manuals, guidelines, artwork, software, web, multimedia, etc.

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Vertical

Medical, pharmaceutical, IT, software, finance, legal, marketing, human resources, etc.

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Visibility of document/target audience

External or internal use, patient-facing, etc.

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Target languages, including “flavors”

Spanish, Spain vs US Spanish or French for France vs Canadian French

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Scope of work

Translation only, translate-edit-proof (TEP), desktop publishing (DTP), Third party or subject matter expert (SME) review, etc.

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Legacy material

Glossaries, style guides, reference material, translation memories, DNT (do not translate) words, etc.

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Source files

Editable files available, graphics, fonts, other DTP assets needed, layout requirements and references, deliverable expectation, etc.

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Turnaround expectations

Urgent or not, approval process, priority in terms of languages or files, etc.

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Estimate approval

Purchase order (PO) and approval process, email approvals, signatures required, etc.

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Country approval/review

Country approval process, when are approvals required, TEP/DTP proofing, language sign-off (LSO), translation memory (TM) alignment, etc.

As for a translation quality assurance checklist, your project managers and linguists will typically have a standard checklist to use. But don’t let that stop you from getting involved. We believe in a collaborative effort. Plus, your language partner won’t know your company’s unique needs unless you share them. Building your expectations right into a checklist makes for a more seamless workflow for everyone, and less back and forth clarification is required.

Items on this checklist could include:

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Spellcheck

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Punctuation and spacing

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Capitalization rules

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Proper nouns

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Missed translations (is all content translated)

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Verb agreement

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Word consistency

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Glossary adherence

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Do Not Translate words (aka DNTs)

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Measurement units

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And much more, with details pertaining to each task

And yet another checklist is created specifically for desktop publishing (DTP) delivery, to ensure final files are formatted and constructed accurately. Obviously these can vary too, as a pdf asset will require different checklist tasks than an eLearning video file.

Items on this checklist could include:

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Trademark requirements

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Style guide adherence

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Blank pages

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Page numbers & page counts

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Graphic/art localization

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Final asset (pdf) size

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Delivery requirements

Translation quality assurance at every step

We understand we’ve barely scratched the surface with the types of checklists and possible checklist items. The point we wanted to get across though, is that you have a hand in ensuring translation quality too. As language professionals, we have the experience and expertise to guide your localization program to aid in your overall global success. But we also need you to be involved. Handing off content and then sitting back and waiting for brilliant success isn’t the way we operate.

So, get in there. Voice your expectations and, if your LSP is as good as we are, they’ll help formulate a plan and a multitude of checklists to keep that plan on track.

What are your must-haves on a translation quality assurance—or some other type of—checklist? Comment below!

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