E.g., 07/14/2020
E.g., 07/14/2020

Why Linguistic Assets are the Foundation of Success

By: Romina Castroman, Director of Language Services - Lingotek, Inc.

01 August 2017

As a localization project manager, I know first-hand that linguistic assets are the foundation of a successful translation project. Glossaries, style guides, and  translation memories (TM) are key to helping linguists have a better understanding of the client’s unique terminology, preferences, and style.

The first step I recommend, before translating for a new client, is to create a glossary, style guide, and collect any existing TM. This sets a good foundation for localization that will improve the quality, consistency, and cost efficiency of the project.


To create a Glossary for a new client, a cloud TMS (translation management system) has a feature that lets you extract a list of repetitions directly from any project. This is a list of any sentence that appears more than 2 times in all of the files to translate. Using different tools (e.g. AntConc), localization engineers can also generate a list of terms and how frequently they appear in all of the files. This is a good starting point for linguists to then create an actual list of terms that will be included in the Glossary.

The initial list of terms is sent to the client so they can add any additional terms that should be included, and give their final approval of the English version. Once the master English Glossary has been created, then it is sent out to be translated into the different languages required for the project. When the translated glossaries are returned, they are sent back to the client for final approval.

Creating a Glossary also helps the client identify which terms they want to leave in English, or which ones they want to have translated in a certain way, like product names, the client’s logo, company name, etc. It’s also important to include terms that should not be translated in the Glossary. Some company names have an established translation already in certain languages (Asian languages, in particular), and it is good to identify those from the beginning as well.

You can’t know every word that needs to be discussed and standardized in advance of a project, so the Glossaries created are constantly updated throughout, as needed. Glossaries are attached to the workflow and project, so if you have a cloud-based TMS, everyone will see the changes as soon as the Glossary is updated. Just like TM,  a cloud TMS will show you how a term needs to be translated, which is really helpful.

The Glossary is a definitive resource that will show the translator the client-approved terms for each specific language.

It’s a big challenge for project managers when clients don’t want to invest in the creation of a Glossary. This is especially problematic when you have a big project (20,000+ words), with a tight deadline, and more than one translator. Every translator has a different style and preferences for words, and it can be hard for one reviewer to catch all the inconsistencies. If you don’t have a Glossary, on final review, the client will notice those inconsistencies, and the additional review required will slow down the project and affect the already tight deadline.

When terminology is used consistently, it protects the company’s messaging and reputation and provides a good experience with the brand, no matter where the end user lives.

Style Guide

The Style Guide is a set of locale-specific standards or guidelines for the target language, like phone number formats or pronoun usage, for example. It also includes the client's specific style and preferences for the linguists to follow during the translation process.

We always send the Style Guide to translators before the project begins, so they can upload it and familiarize themselves with the client’s preferences in advance. Unlike the Glossary, the Style Guide usually doesn’t change. If it does, either the main reviewer for the client will update the style guide or the project manager will. One person should keep control of it to make sure that everyone is notified of any changes.

Every language has unique usage for pronouns, numbers, punctuation, etc. This information is included in the Style Guide, so that the translation will reflect the appropriate usage for each particular locale.

Common elements of a Style Guide include:

  • Reference material links
  • General target language conventions
  • Character set instructions
  • Date conventions
  • Time conventions
  • Phone numbers
  • Address format
  • Units of measure
  • Capitalization rules
  • Quotation marks
  • Abbreviations
  • Gender
  • Company-specific preferences:
    • Tone of voice: Formal or informal pronoun usage

When clients don’t invest in creating a Style Guide, it leads to inconsistencies,  additional edits, and translations that don’t accurately reflect the proper localization for the target language.

One of our clients did not want to include a space between the number and the metric measurement (3,45cm), but in Japan, the commonly-used format is to use a space (3,45 cm), so the content was not accurately localized for the end user. This leads to a poor user experience and can damage the company’s brand, that’s why we always recommend that our clients use a Style Guide.

I recommend that, for any project that has more than 10K words, you create both a glossary and style guide. Creating these tools helps you understand what the client is looking for. It shows the client that you care. When you clearly define what they want, you improve your ability to meet their expectations and deliver high-quality translations.

Translation Memory

Translation Memory (TM) is a database of translated sentences or words. Each time a sentence is translated using a CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tool, it is saved in the TM, identifying the source and the target as a “translation unit.” Translation Memory removes the need to duplicate effort, so it saves the time it would have taken to re-translate that content.

Cloud-based TM will save the translated unit, so the same string or sentence won’t have to be translated if it appears again. If Translator C did the translation, Translator A will see a fuzzy match or exact match, so they are going to benefit from it right away. They’ll always see the latest, most accurate version of the TM and it’s faster, because they’re only translating new content.

TM that is stored in the cloud can be immediately leveraged by other translators. This increases the speed of translation and ensures they’re using TM that is accurate and up to date.

TM that is stored in the cloud can be immediately leveraged by other translators, any time. You don’t have to email TM databases back and forth or merge separate TM files after the project has finished. This increases the speed of translation and ensures that the TM is always accurate and up to date.

Only paying for new translations can lead to a lot of cost savings for our clients. They also save time because TM makes it faster to translate.


As a localization project manager, I know that creating linguistic assets before the translation process begins, is a great foundation for a project’s success. By taking the time to create glossaries, style guides, and collect translation memories at the beginning, you ensure that your clients will get translations that are higher quality, more consistent, faster, and cost-efficient.

Romina Castroman

Romina is the Director of Language Services at Lingotek. She is an MBA graduate with cross cultural experience in Europe, Latin America and the USA. She has 15 years of experience successfully managing projects across cultural barriers.