Re: Localization Issues

Subject: Re: Localization Issues
From: Bill Burns <wdburns -at- mindspring -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 28 Dec 2001 17:20:34 -0700

Hi, Steve.

The "gerund phrase" thread has led me to ask about localization issues in
general. We have developed a version of our core software for use in Europe.
The project manager says we are not going to have the localize, but I am
sure he is in denial. It's going to have to happen if we are serious about
the European market.

Sounds like you've got a clue, even if he doesn't.

Of course, this means I have the task of researching what it's going to take
to localize our docs. I am not sure where to start. Anyone know of any good
resources on the subject? Books, websites, etc. Anyone know of any
consultants or companies that localize docs that you could recommend? Any
other suggestions, hints, tips, warnings, cautions, or pointers in the right
direction would be helpful.

Intercom had a few excellent articles on internationalizing documentation back in the spring, I believe. Nancy Hoft's book has been a mainstay, but it is a bit dated, and a number of localization consultants I've spoken to don't find it to be all that useful. I wrote a chapter on the subject for "Technical Writing 101: a Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Documentation." It's available through Amazon or Scriptorium Publishing. I would recommend Lionbridge, but I'm biased (for reasons that will soon become more apparent), but there a number of other very competent companies (RWS at, and Foreign Exchange Translation at

I am particularly interested in anything that would help me estimate the
cost of translation. Even just rough ballpark figures for page or word
counts. I don't think anyone in my company has any idea what this is going
to cost and I would like to make upper management aware of this before we
get to far into the process.

Translation is charged by the word, but the translation won't be the only cost. Localization project management and doc production are very large part of the project cost. Also, the cost depends on the language set that you choose. If you're doing only western European languages, the cost might not be as high as if you were pursuing eastern European or Asian locales. The best thing to do is to collect samples that represents the work you be having localized and request bids from two or three vendors based on those samples.

Bill Burns
Burns Technical Communications
wdburns -at- mindspring -dot- com

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