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Spanish Document Translations: a complete checklist to getting it right

Spanish Document Translations is something we do every day, a subject that is very close to our heart. We’re talking about the translation into Spanish of documents such as brochures, presentations, RFPs, handbooks, manuals, contracts, etc, and in today’s article, we have prepared a checklist that will help you get the translation of your documents right.

The checklist:

1- Do you have knowledge of the subject matter of the documents? If you don’t, the right move is to stop before you even start and leave the translation to a subject matter expert. Subject matter experts are the only ones that can produce a professional translation: They know the key terminology in both languages and the style that is preferred by the readers.

2- Make a comprehensive review of all the reference material available and try to find the answers to the following questions:

    • What is the target audience?
    • Is the language Formal or Informal?
    • Are there any special instructions?
    • Do numbers, dates, measurement units, monetary amounts, etc. need to be localized?
    • Is there a specific terminology that must be used? (for example, a glossary of terms)

If any of the points above is unclear, you may want to clarify them before you start the translation. Do not hesitate to contact your customer for the information you need. Having a clear picture of what needs to be done is critical to producing a high-quality translation.

3- Do a quick read of the text to be translated and check if there are any terms that are particularly important or that are repeated a lot. If so, create your own glossary with those terms and take additional time to research and translate them properly. The time invested here will pay off since it will have a direct impact on the final quality.

4- How many words do you plan to translate per day? Plan your productivity and working hours ahead. Always remember to be realistic, nobody works at full speed (and with full attention) after a certain number of hours. Make sure you take into account the difficulty of the text in your estimates. For example, complex technical translation will require more of your time than working with texts of a more general nature.

5- Time management is key: Translate without stopping for too long when you find some text that’s not clear for you. If you need to spend a lot of time clarifying some part of the translation… Stop!, write it down, and continue. You will probably find the answer later in the document, or you will be able to figure it out later. Focusing for too long on a single sentence is not only harmful to your productivity but also abstracts you from the bigger picture and can make you miss the idea of what you are translating.

6- At the end of the day, when you finish the part you decided to work with, go back to review the notes you wrote, and look for the answers in your reference material or in reliable internet sites. If you can’t find an answer, it’s time to talk to your PM or client for clarification.

7- If you have any questions for your client, write them down but wait until you have a handful of questions (or are about to finish your job) before you send them. Never send your questions one by one. It not only clutters people’s inbox, but it also increases the chances of your questions being missed amid so many emails. Plus, your point of contact will thank you for making it easier for them to deal with your queries.

8- Avoid literal translations and adapt the sentence whenever needed. Remember that it’s important to stick to the source meaning, not to the exact source words.

9- A simpler translation is better than a fancy one. Avoid overly complicated expressions, excessive flair, or purple prose.

10- Never add or remove ideas from the original text. Always work to maintain and transmit the author’s idea.

11- Please make sure to review your translations for Redundancies, they must be avoided at all costs.

12- Avoid using Gerunds or Passive voice unless it is absolutely necessary.

13- After the translation is done leave the computer for a while to clear your head 🙂

14- Come back to the computer and re-read the whole translation (if possible, read it aloud to hear how it sounds).

15- Congratulations, your translation is ready! 🙂

We hope that this guide helps you navigate your Spanish Document Translation. That being said, this is only a part of the entire translation process. For the whole picture please visit our post about Quality Control on Translations.


If you need help with your Spanish Document Translations you came to the right place. We have experience working with a very wide array of subject matters and have the right experts for your material. Contact us at today!



Federico Marucco

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