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Quick Tips: Managing Successful Translation Projects

Innovative Learning Group isn’t a language translation company, but we do manage many translation projects for our clients. For e-learning alone, ILG has coordinated the translation and completed the programming of courses into more than 20 languages. So, we know a thing or two about what makes a translation project a success.


  • Have discussions before beginning any project to determine if material is going to be translated and, if so, into how many languages.
  • Ensure course activities are culturally appropriate.
  • Determine if  the content must be translated. Some governments require training materials to be in the native language.
  • Ensure in-country reviewers validate the translations.
  • Don’t use colloquialisms.
  • If translating e-learning, keep content length in mind when developing materials. This reduces the potential need to add screens as the text grows, which it does with most languages. At ILG, we plan for a 30% text increase when an English version is translated.
  • Ensure all content is proofread and approved before translation begins.
  • Look for existing translations of the same content. Cost can be significantly reduced if even parts of the content have already been translated.
  • Discuss a style guide and get answers to questions about industry term translations. For instance, are the terms “Six Sigma” and/or “LEAN” to be translated?
  • Don’t use text in images/graphics. This reduces cost as the graphics themselves don’t need to be revised.
  • Determine if the translator can work with the usual tools, such as Captivate and Lectora, or if text files will be required.
  • If you have the freedom to choose, select e-learning authoring tools that include built-in features designed for translations, such as Lectora or Storyline.
  • Consider storing text content externally to the e-learning course in XML files.
  • Choose fonts that work well with double-byte (e.g., Chinese, Japanese) character sets.
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