RE: Writing conventions/translation (graphics)

Subject: RE: Writing conventions/translation (graphics)
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 12:36:47 -0400

Jane Credland reports that if <<...your documents are going to be
translated, the first two (diagrams and illustrations) may also need to be
kept to a minimum. We're specifically enjoined to reduce the number of
diagrams and illustrations in our end user documents, because it makes
translation and localisation more expensive, more time-consuming and more

If the job were easy, localisation contractors couldn't charge enough to
make such a good living. "Difficult" strikes me as a spurious objection; if
the graphic is truly useful, including it should actually facilitate the
task of translation because it communicates more clearly, in fewer words,
than the comparable text. "Time-consuming" also strikes me as unlikely,
except insofar as someone has to produce a screenshot or other image. Since
the localizers will have to translate the interface anyway, "time-consuming"
shouldn't be an issue. Perhaps the problem is that they're using inadequate
tools or don't have any easy way to annotate the graphics? Perhaps they're
trying to avoid manual translations using some form of translation memory or
machine translation system, and can't run graphics through the filters?
Perhaps they're using incompatible writing or graphics software that makes
it difficult to look at or edit callouts and other illustration text?

<<We're currently arguing over the need for call-outs. The localisation
group wants us to stop using them. Our user surveys all say "more please".>>

Tell the localisation group to "suck it up". <g> If the users want more
graphics, they should get more graphics. It's never a good idea to
compromise the documentation simply because it's inconvenient to do it
right; about the only exception to that sweeping generalization is when
"doing it right" means you'll run out of time or other resources and not be
able to do it at all.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"I vowed [that] if I complained about things more than three times, I had to
do something about it."--Jon Shear


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