Terminological research guidelines

Documenting term research is a mandatory part of the translation process. Revisers cannot assume that a translator has done the research and done it correctly. They have to confirm and sometimes double-check terminology. Documenting your research saves revisers a great deal of time and helps to produce a higher-quality translation.

Well-documented term research can also be helpful for translators and revisers in the future, as internal resources can open your projects and look at your comments if they are translating a related text later on.

When research needs to be documented

  • The golden rule: if you had to look up the term, you should leave a comment for the reviser. Otherwise, it's likely they'll have to look it up as well.

  • Don't assume the reviser is intimately familiar with the client—a term may be obvious to you and require no research, but if it isn't general knowledge, the reviser might have to look it up! When in doubt, provide justification for your chosen terminology.

  • If you've been translating the same kinds of texts for the same client, for the same office, for a reasonable amount of time, you can probably be a bit more relaxed about common terminology (widely used initialisms for job titles, names of programs, names of departments, etc.)
    • Be careful about this, and remember that newly hired revisers sometimes work on your translations. They may not be familiar with the client.

  • Always research department names, titles, technical terms, acronyms, initialisms, names of documents, etc.—anything that might already have an official equivalent. Don’t translate freely or invent terms unless the client has specifically asked for it (or if you’ve sent a question about a term and need a placeholder)!

How to document your research in Trados Studio

  • Insert comments in Studio to document your term research. Select the term* in the target segment and right click then select Add Comment, or use the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+N.
    • *Do not simply select the whole segment and add a comment. This makes it harder to tell which term was researched.
    • If you’re not using Studio, leave comments in the Word document, or create a separate Word file to document your term research with a table listing the source language terms, your translations, and your sources.

  • In your comment, state the source for your research.
    • Abbreviations are acceptable (MT = MultiTerm, T+ = Termium, etc.).
    • For specific websites, like government department pages or things you've Googled, identify the website and copy and paste the URL into the comment.

  • If the term is an acronym or initialism, provide the full term in both languages.
    • This is unnecessary for extremely obvious terms like the client's name, but when in doubt, default to expanding the term.

  • If your conclusion isn't self-evident, or if your source isn't authoritative (aggregators like Linguee, unrelated government websites, etc.), you can provide a brief explanation of your reasoning or lay out any concerns you might have about the term choice you've made. This is an exceptional circumstance and should not happen often.

  • A concordance search in Studio is NOT authoritative, and relying too heavily on the memory for research can compound existing errors. Use the concordance results as a starting point for your research and try to find other sources for confirmation. If you must use a concordance search result as a source, try to rely only on segments that are revised, consistent, and numerous.

Can’t find a term? Sending questions

  • You must exhaust all research options available before submitting a question. If possible, ask other translators or revisers for help figuring out a term.

  • Consult the client profile available on LexInfo to see which resources to use and their order of priority. Make sure you've thoroughly checked their website and general references, and double-check to see if the project includes any specific reference files.

  • If you simply cannot find the term anywhere after exhaustive research, you'll have to prepare question for the client. Insert a comment on the term and indicate that you've submitted a question. Fill out the term question form provided with the project and send it to the appropriate email address.
    • Come up with a proposed translation to put in the target segment. Never leave the term in the source language. However, if it's a completely inscrutable initialism, it can be left as-is.
    • Then, prepare a note to the client indicating that no official translation could be found for the term and providing the proposed translation. This note will be sent along with the translation if the client doesn't reply with an answer.
    • Each term must be listed individually on the question form and note to client.