A couple of days ago, I noticed that a lot of people were looking at my now-famous post on Adobe Framemaker. It is the post that continues to live on in infamy. I noticed that many people were finding the post from a site called tecwriter.com. So, I decided to peruse tecwriter.com, to see exactly what is going on there.

Tecwriter.com appears to be an aggregated site where you can have your blog posts linked. And lo and behold, the very first link is my FrameMaker post. I have no idea how it got there, but I am grateful for the connection. I started looking more closely at the links on the site. It would appear that most of them are related to Madcap Flare – which makes me wonder if Madcap has something to do with the site. Does anyone know?

In any event, I came across a great post that I wanted to share with you. It is called “Ten Best Practices for Preparing a Flare (or RoboHelp) Project for Translation,” and it is by Lorraine Kupka. The post is on the Writers UA site, which is a great place to go for information on user assistance.

What I like about Lorraine’s post is that it is very thorough. It covers most of the various items you should think about when your project is going to be translated. Lorraine focuses not just on the writing, but on all of the additional things you can (and should) do to make your project go smoothly. I strongly suggest you read her entire post.

For crimp notes, here are Lorraine’s 10 best practices:

  1. Follow best practices for technical writing
  2. Consider how the text will appear after translation
  3. Use CSS styles instead of local formatting
  4. Use naming conventions
  5. Document conventions and processes in a style guide
  6. Simplify conditioned text
  7. Don’t embed text in images
  8. Consider whether to translate sample data used in screen shots
  9. Remove extraneous project files (targets, topics, TOCs, etc.)
  10. Identify topic content that must match the user interface

If you are not creating online help, you might not need all of these best practices, since a few are specific to online help systems. However, most of these practices should be used religiously if you are sending your content to translation.

A few months ago, Scott Abel wrote a post for eContent Magazine on preparing your content for translation. I would add the following best practices from Scott’s post:

  • Avoid being America-centric in your writing
  • Make sure your content is findable
  • Structure your content consistently
  • Use a consistent set of semantic tags
  • Install and use a CMS for managing your content

What are some of the other best practices that you would add?

Val Swisher
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