Have you ever heard the saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”? That’s the secret behind what I’ve termed The Holy Trifecta of global content. The Holy Trifecta is made up of three parts:
- Structured Authoring
- Terminology Management
- Translation Memory
On their own, each one of these parts is good. Really good. I highly recommend structured content, managed terminology, and consistent use of clean translation memory. Taking it a step further, combining any two of these parts is also really good.
When you use all three in an integrated, purposeful fashion, you’ve really hit the content jackpot. By using all three, you are able to create:
- Reusable content that is more consistent, faster to create, and easy to make available on any device
- Consistent content that is easier to read and follows your corporate standards
- Better quality translations that are cheaper to create and maintain
And who isn’t for “faster, better, cheaper” global content?
In this post, I focus on how these three parts work together. My assumption is that you already understand what structured content is, what terminology management is, and how translation memory works. If not, here are some other articles I’ve written that you can read for more information:
- Structured Authoring: Without it, You’re Spending Too Much Time Creating Content
- Structured Content is Like Your Closet
- Making the Business Case for Intelligent Content
- Let’s Talk Terminology
- Why Manage Terminology?
- How Do I Manage Terminology?
- Which Terms Should I Manage?
- Translation Memory – Content, Context and Cost
- Three (Surprising) Reasons for Poor Quality Translations
- Three Tips to Help You Clean Up Your Translation Memory Mess
Structured Content + Terminology Management
Let’s start by looking at the relationship between structured content and terminology management.
Imagine you have four writers. They are collaborating on a book about dog care. Each writer creates one topic and, at the end, the topics are published together in a final information product.
- Sam is responsible for feeding.
- Sally is responsible for grooming.
- Wally is responsible for exercise.
- Sue is responsible for training.
Writing about dog care is simple enough, so without further ado, each writer sets off to work.
About a week later, all four writers check in their topics. Here are the topic titles:
- Feeding the dog
- Grooming the hound
- Walking the canine
- Training the puppy
Oops. Because you did not manage your terminology, each writer called the animal by a different term. All four of the terms are accurate. However, they are completely inconsistent. In fact, if you don’t manage your terminology, the words inside each topic could also be inconsistent.
Most of us work on content that is far more complex than dog care. And many of us work with terms that are trademarked. The cost of confusion and legal issues created by not managing terminology can be high. The bottom line is that structured content without terminology management makes no sense.
Enter Translation Memory
Clearly, managing source terminology is important. It is just as important to manage multilingual terminology. When we combine structured content, terminology management, and translation memory there are two things that we need to do consistently:
- Send the same terms to translation, over and over again
- Round trip the translated terms back to the writer
Say the Same Thing, the Same Way, Every Time You Say It
If you want your translations to be cheap, fast, and good, you need to send consistent terminology to translation. This means you have to say the same thing, the same way, every time you say it. Otherwise, you cannot take advantage of your translation memory (TM).
Structured authoring creates reusable topics. When these topics are translated, they are reusable, as well. When you pick one term, such as “dog,” in English, the translation for that term will also be reused in all translations. Your source content matches internally (within a topic) and externally (between topics). Your translations match internally and externally. And you take full advantage of your TM.
Sync Source Terminology with TM
When you create your terminology, it makes sense to use terms that have already been translated and are in your TM. That way, you are not sending new terms to translation and paying more than you have to. Of course, there are times when the existing terms in the TM are outdated or replaced. In that case, you will have to have the new terminology translated. But, wherever possible, round-trip the terminology in your TM with the terminology your writers use to create content. Keep them both in sync.
The Holy Trifecta
So, now for the big finale.
To get the most out of your global content – the most readability, translatability, comprehension, speed to create, time to market, and cost savings – put all three of these pieces together.
- Use structured authoring. Write once, use many.
- Manage terminology. Say the same thing, the same way, every time you say it.
- Align translation memory. Use already-translated terms in your source content. Manage them in source and translation.
The result will be the best content you can create, in as many languages as you need, for the least amount of time and money expended.
Still confused? Not sure where to begin? Contact us. We’re happy to help.
Upcoming Webinar: Holy Trifecta of Global Content Success: Terminology, Structure, and Translation
Join Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, and Val Swisher, Global Content Strategist, and CEO of Content Rules, for this free one-hour webinar. You’ll leave with an understanding of how terminology, structure, and TM work and how paying attention to all three factors will help your customers provide better content in any language.
When not blogging, Val can be found sitting behind her sewing machine working on her latest quilt. She also makes a mean hummus.
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