Tips for ordering translations

Last changed: 13 July 2023

The grammar police are here to help! Get writing tips for English and Swedish in our regular language column.

A lot of the texts we produce at SLU need to be translated, and a lot of the time you will use the services of a translator for this. Below, you will find some concrete suggestions that will make your translation project run as smoothly as possible.

  1. Allow for translation in your schedule. If you order under the framework agreement, delivery times are 5 working days for texts of 2,000 words or fewer and 10 working days for 2,000–10,000 words. Also, add at least 1 working day for administration.

  2. Provide information about your text. Target audience? Purpose? Medium – paper, web? The same questions you should ask yourself before you start writing.

  3. Use plain language. Adapt content and style to the target audience. Keep it short and simple. Avoid dangling modifiers and passive verbs. Use specialist terminology consistently.

  4. Avoid puns, metaphors and hard-to-translate cultural references. Always expand any abbreviations and acronyms – they may be obvious to someone at SLU, but incomprehensible to anyone else. Always proofread your text.

  5. Use a file format that works for translation. The translator needs a format that can be edited, such as Word, Excel etc. Do not send pdf files for translation.

  6. Avoid manual formatting. Always use a document template. Remember that translated text is rarely the same length as the original – it can be longer or shorter. Important to keep in mind, not least for printed material.

  7. Make all text accessible. Illustrations such as charts and tables are helpful, but avoid mixing graphics and text. It is better to use symbols and make a separate, editable legend. If the text contains illustrations generated from linked files, e.g. a chart generated from an Excel sheet, the translator will need the Excel file as well.

  8. Do a link inventory. Do you link to other pages on the SLU web that have not been translated? Will they need a translation in order for your document to work? Do you link to external sources only available in one language? If yes, is there any alternative information you can link to in your translation?

  9. Be prepared to answer questions on the content. Translators are experts at transmitting a message in a grammatically correct and idiomatic way. Do not expect them to be as much of a subject-matter expert as yourself.