Translation Guidance

Please always remember, for the security of you, TH and our clients:

When working with Talking Heads, you agree that:

  • You will not disclose to anyone that you are working on this project for Talking Heads – our clients instruct us to keep this project confidential. 
  • You will not advertise any project or your relationship with Talking Heads on social media including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (including not adding Talking Heads as your employer).
  • You will not disclose our client’s name, brand names or project details at all, under any circumstances, including on your CV or professional profiles (, etc.), unless you receive permission to do so from an authorised person at Talking Heads.
  • You’re very welcome to write that you have worked for Talking Heads on your CV, but without revealing client names. :-)

Instructions Provided by Your PM

  • Ensure that you adhere to any special project notes supplied by your Project Manager. 

Language / Style / Localisation / Content

  • Always Avoid Literal Translations - remember that the target content is not supposed to look like a translation of the source - it is supposed to look like it has been written in the target language.
  • Your choice of formal/informal language should be consistent throughout - ensure it matches the language register of the source text.
  • Adhere to any style guides, reference material or glossaries that have been provided.
  • Make decisions regarding grammatical structures in order to achieve fluency.
  • Different languages follow different rules for the use of lower case or capital letters. Ensure that you have applied the correct standard in the target language.
  • Apply the punctuation rules of the target language – these may differ from the source language (please remember that even if the source text punctuation is incorrect, it is our job to ensure that ours is. Please do not mirror incorrect punctuation).
  • Consider use of a Corpus (such as Linguee) if you need to double check your translation in context. These searchable sets of text allow you to search phrases within various contexts. 
  • Make use of language forums on website such as Proz and WordReference if you would like to discuss a specific query with other translators.
  • Always keep in mind the purpose and end user of the translation.
  • Spellcheckers are useful but not to be solely relied on, set aside time to proofread your work.
  • Spelling of names must be consistent and accurate.
  • Please stick with the language’s rules, even on 'concept' phrases which have every word capitalised in English.
  • Whenever there is a URL accompanying text, please open the URL to see the page, this will provide context to the text you are translating.
  • Do not hesitate to ask questions or highlight areas of uncertainty for review by the proofreader

What to translate and DNT (Do Not Translate)

  • Please do not translate web and email addresses.
  • Please do not translate brand / company / product names, unless you have been specifically asked to do so.
  • Show any illegible/indecipherable handwritten text as [illegible] – please do not guess any content if you are unsure.


  • If you feel it is not appropriate to adhere to a glossary term, please advise your Project Manager of why you have made a decision to use a different term. 
  • If you are instructed to use the glossary term, even if you do not agree to it, please use it. It is an instruction from the client.
  • If you have to amend a glossary term for grammatical reasons, please highlight this.
  • Make use of bilingual/monolingual dictionaries wherever necessary.
  • Make use of terminology databases wherever necessary which provide terms, definitions and translations. 

CAT Tools (Trados Studio)

  • When working in Trados, use Translation Memories and Term Bases to ensure consistency with previous projects.
  • If you are using different software, you should ensure (and be confident) that the format you deliver the translation in is compatible with Trados Studio.


  • When working outside of Trados, always mirror the source formatting, unless otherwise instructed. This includes: font type and size, colour, bolding, italics, formatting of paragraphs etc.
  • Ensure consistency in all areas: style, terminology, presentation etc.
  • Apply local conventions on numbers and currency – this includes formatting rules.
  • If there’s a table of contents, make sure it still refers to the right pages in target translation.
  • Format all handwritten text in italics.
  • Show any signatures / stamps on the document as [signature], [stamp].
  • Script Languages: Please deliver the file in the source format AND PDF format. If you are concerned that the font / characters will not show correctly, take a screen grab / screen shot from your machine and send it with your delivery, so that the PM can compare this, to ensure they are seeing the characters correctly on their machine.

Acronyms / Abbreviations / Using Initials
Where possible, we would always retain an acronym in the source language. This is because in a lot of cases, they are used for names and are within graphic logos and designs.

Example 1
A prominent acronym is that of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization:

  1. In English - NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
  2. In French - OTAN (Organisation du Traité de l'Atlantique Nord)

You would decide which of these is used in your language most (English or French). To assist the reader, you may decide to translate a description to explain what the acronym means.

German example: NATO (Nordatlantikvertrag).
The English acronym, accompanied by a German description of what it means.

Example 2
Even if the acronym is not commonly well known / famous, where possible we would try to retain it. Let's invent a company called Sports Clothing for Teenagers. They use the acronym 'SCT'. In fact, their website could be something like ''. The Spanish translation 'Sports Clothing for Teenagers' is 'Ropa Deportiva para Adolescentes'. However, you can see why we wouldn't want to translate the acronym to 'RDA' in the Spanish text. We could do this:

SCT (ropa deportiva para adolescentes)
The English acronym, accompanied by a Spanish description of what it means.

We might only do this in the first instance of the acronym in the content. After that, we would be happy to simply put 'SCT'.