Why a Comprehensive Project Brief Is Critical to a Translation Project

January 27, 2021

With over 20 years of expertise in the translation industry, we appreciate the importance of a high-quality translation for our clients. The wider impact of the inaccurate translation of terminology or inappropriate use of language, for example, can be hugely detrimental to people’s lives and businesses. Using a comprehensive project brief when embarking on a translation project plays a vital role in getting it right. Below, we share what should be included in these briefs and why they have a crucial effect on the resulting translation.

meeting, agreement

What should be included in a project brief?

When completing a project that is anything more than the translation of straightforward factual details (e.g., birth or marriage certificate), establishing a project brief before commencing is essential. A project brief should comprise a lot more than just the document length, source and target language, and deadline. Instead, it should provide the linguists with an in-depth understanding of what the client is looking to achieve with this piece of communication. Below are the top 5 pieces of information that we believe a project brief should seek:


1) Dialect of language

A straightforward question, but one that can be overlooked and potentially costly. For example, determining whether the target language is British or American English can critically change a translation in places. British people can read American English perfectly well, but the incorrect understanding of certain words could cause confusion or even distress, depending on the context. On the other hand, knowing the correct dialect and the target audience’s country of origin will ensure successful localisation to the appropriate cultural protocols.


2) Audience demographic

This information includes age, gender, socio-economic factors and anything else that would affect how your communication would be received. Understanding your audience will affect how a translation is approached; the style of language used and the vocabulary chosen.


3) Purpose of the project

What is the piece of communication looking to achieve? Appreciating the intent behind the project will also influence the angle taken by the translator. For example, when translating surveys for a market research study, the aim is usually to gather valid, non-biased data. Therefore, ensuring questions are not translated in a leading manner is essential. A persuasive marketing campaign, on the other hand, would need a very different approach.


4) Style of language

Relating to the two previous points, the style of language will be affected by the type of audience and the intent behind the communication. The project brief should determine whether the language should be formal or informal and if there is a particular tone of voice or brand style that should be adopted. Larger-scale marketing departments often have in-depth branding documents that set out how they want their organisation to perceived. But, even outside of this sector, businesses will want to communicate in a specific manner.


5) Supporting material

Supporting material may include a glossary of terms – either industry- or brand-specific, discussion guides that provide background about the project or even examples of previous translations that can be used to ensure consistency across an organisation’s communication.


Why is this information important?

Much of the information gathered in the project brief provides context to the piece of work being translated. Context is the critical piece of the jigsaw that is still under development with machine translation, and often the reason it falters, delivering inappropriate results. A professional translation provider appreciates that, by understanding who you’re communicating with, why and how, they can produce a translation in line with how you want your text to be received and successfully achieve its objective.


Establishing these details from the outset will save time and budget in the long-run. Fewer, if any, amendments will be needed and, when the translation is used, you can feel confident that your audience understands your intentions correctly.


To find out how Mission Translate can assist with your next translation project, please get in touch with our team.



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