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Top 10 tips for translation in Medical communications

Medically trained in-country translators

Dr Mark Hooper | 08th September 2016

Accuracy and high-quality are one of the most important decision factors when choosing your medical translations partner. 

Accuracy and high-quality should be the most important decision factors when choosing your medical translations partner as there is no room for mistakes or ambiguities. Here are our top ten tips to keep in mind when starting a new medical translation project:

1. Use medically trained, in-country translators

There are certain concepts and contexts that only a professional translator from a medical background can fully understand and localise appropriately. 

2. Use original source documents

Source documents could be created using any number of applications or programs, such as InDesign, html, XML or Powerpoint.  Try to avoid quality limiting and time consuming cut & paste processes from Word docs or PDFs and instead work with the original files directly in the translation process. 

3. Keep it concise and unambiguous

Try to avoid using too many words when one will do the job! It will make the translators job a lot easier and leave less opportunity for misinterpretation. Also consider that in many cases, translating text from English to a target language such as German or Spanish will often expand the length of the words by up to 30%. 

4. Allow extra space in your design layout 

Will your initial designs still be suitable once you’ve taking consideration of the fact that some words may be longer when translated? What about the fact that Arabic or Hebrew read Right to Left? Will this mean having to move your images and bullet points around on the page?

5. Do you need Transcreation?

Think carefully about using country specific content for international campaigns. It may be the case that translation and localisation is not sufficient and what you actually require is the campaign to be transcreated, i.e., recreated and culturally adapted so that it makes sense in the target territory. In this instance, rather than translating the source words, you will need to refer to the initial brief and employ copywriters in each location to come up with new headlines, etc.

6. Avoid ‘rasterised’ or flattened images that contain source-language text

It will be hard to extract the text and recreate the original images in the new target language, and will only add extra delays in your time-line.

7. Get the quality right the first time

Don’t rely on reviews by your in-country teams – it’s not their main job or expertise and often they don’t have time to do extensive translation review/re-work to correct initial poor translation.

8. Maintain the quality focus throughout the project

The typical medical translation review process can have up to four steps:

  1. Translation
  2. Revision 1
  3. Revision 2
  4. Ethics Committee – Client Review

In some instances, clients may also require Back Translation, to allow a non-linguist to review the quality of the translation.

It is equally important to ensure that the same level of quality control is applied to the layout of your final formatted documents that use the translated text.

9. Find a true partner

Translation is part of your final product in the target markets, so make sure your translation partner shares your own high standards. Translation should not be viewed as simply an outsourced commodity purchase, but instead an integral part of your material and offering.

10. Get references

Ask for references, case studies or testimonials from your chosen translation partner. 


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Rheumatoid Athritis Patient Recruitment

Helping to recruit patients for a rheumatoid arthritis study.

Cardiac Patient Recruitment

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Vision Impact Institute

Our team delivered their usual high quality on this website translation project.

Lucid Group

Planning and production of four videos featuring patients from the UK and France.

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