Let’s talk terminology. More specifically, let’s talk about how to manage terminology.

Terminology management is a big topic; not one that I can write about in a single post. There are lots of things to talk about. Over the next few blogs posts, I’m going to delve into terminology management. Consider it a primer that will be metered out over the course of a few weeks. Here are the topics that I’m going to cover:

  1. What does it mean to manage terminology?
  2. Why would you want to manage terminology?
  3. What are the ways to manage terminology?
  4. How do you decide which terms to manage?
  5. What are best practices for managing terminology?

If you have additional large topics that are not on this list, please feel free to let me know by leaving me a comment, or sending me an email or a tweet.

So, let’s begin.

What does it mean to manage terminology?

I did a search for “terminology management” in Google. Not surprisingly, the first ten results were about managing multilingual terminology or managing terminology from the standpoint of translation. Let me state for the record, terminology management is critical in translation.

That being said, in this series of posts, I am going to explore terminology management from a single-language, English-centric stance. Why? Because the importance of managing terminology is not just a translation/localization issue. There are very good reasons to spend time and money on managing terms at the content development level – long before the content ever reaches localization. We will need to keep this in mind as we go through the topics. I’m sure someone is going to complain that I “missed” all of the localization and translation points. Rest assured that I’m intentionally focusing on terminology management from a content development standpoint only.

So, I got nowhere trying to look up the definition of terminology management from a content development standpoint. Let’s craft one, then.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of manage is:

: to handle or direct with a degree of skill: as to exercise executive, administrative, and supervisory direction of <manage a business>

: to work upon or try to alter for a purpose <manage the press> <manage stress>

According to the Oxford dictionary, manage means:

1 : to be in charge of (a company, establishment, or undertaking); administer; run:

2to succeed in surviving or in attaining one’s aims, especially against heavy odds; cope:

I think all of these definitions are applicable to managing terminology, particularly succeeding in managing terms against heavy odds. For many of us, that’s certainly what terminology  management feels like!

According to Oxford, terminology is:

The body of terms used with a particular technical application in a subject of study, theory, profession, etc.

To manage terminology, then, means:

To use a degree of skill to administer, regulate, and control the use of particular words that are specific to a particular field.

Or in plain English, to manage terminology is:

To control how some words are used in content creation.


Do you have a definition of terminology management?

Val Swisher