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September 24, 2020 |

7 Terminology Management Best Practices 

Terminology management helps you put together a set of rules and guidelines to ensure everyone in your organization uses industry and company-specific terms correctly. At the same time, it ensures consistency in your message and shapes how you communicate your brand and core values. 

Terminology Management Allows You To

  • Collect the terms of interest for your company in a database (or glossary), and make sure you include all synonyms and abbreviations.  
  • Mention any product or service associations that are relevant to the usage of each term. 
  • Define entries that require clarification using words that are easy to understand by people who aren’t familiar with your activity’s technical details. 
  • Give guidelines on how each word or phrase should be used to make sure that all your brand messages are 100 percent clear and accurate. 
  • Include translating terms to streamline translation and localization processes. 
  • Indicate preference for usage if multiple terms define the same concept. 
  • Make sure all relevant team members have access to the database and use it when creating brand content. 

Terminology management is helpful not only when working with translators, but also for your employees who manage corporate branding–such as people working in communication, product development, customer support, marketing, or sales. 

Terminology management is necessary to maintain one brand voice across all communication channels in all languages. With that in mind, here are seven best practices to help you handle terminology management like a pro. 

1. Decide Who Is Responsible for Creating the Glossary

Not everyone in your company is a good match for pulling out terms and putting together a terminology database. Employees in charge should have not just industry insights, but also the right skills for this job. Make sure they understand how this work will impact all future brand communication. Ideally, technical writers or content managers should play a fundamental role in creating and updating the glossary of terms. 

If you want to simplify the process, you can hire an external terminologist to help with the task. However, it’s in your best interest to assign an in-house expert to collaborate with the linguist to have an accurate glossary of terms.  

2. Use Existing Documentation to Identify Terms

Searching for terminology is the most time-consuming activity when translating content. And it’s the same for creating a glossary of terms. That’s because it’s not a simple hunt for complicated words and technical phrases. You need to find them in the right context to understand each word’s exact meaning and how it should be used in communication. 

The easiest way to generate an exhaustive terminology database is by consulting existing documentation. This way, you can quickly identify the words that are of interest for your company, sector, and the industry as a whole and define them accordingly. 

3. Automate Terminology Management

For now, terminology management allows a semi-automation of processes, as human input and some manual tasks are still fundamental to obtain an accurate glossary. Luckily, the software can handle the rest with a significant impact on your bottom line. 

For instance, you can use a terminology extraction tool, such as SDL MultiTerm Extract or Terminus, to extract terms from existing documentation. Many of these automatic tools also include terminology management features for increased efficiency. You can choose between standalone tools, web-based software, and frameworks to be integrated with other CAT tools, depending on the project’s scope and how you plan to use the glossary of terms in the long run. 

4. Establish the Criteria for Selecting Terminology

A glossary of terms should be relevant to your business. Including commonly used words or terms rarely used in your industry only reduces the tool’s efficiency. Plus, it slows down the translation process and adds unnecessary costs to the table. 

You want to be clear about what categories of terms should be included in the terminology database right from the start. Make sure you also decide how entries will be organized to avoid having a tool that stores terms chaotically.  

5. Implement Clear Workflows and Writing Standards

The instructions for introducing new elements into a glossary of terms should be straightforward. Make sure people understand how to choose the words to be included and, where applicable, how definitions should be written. If you don’t set writing standards, you risk causing confusion among users. This eventually results in inconsistencies across your documentation, miscommunication, and translation errors.  

Also, be sure to establish clear roles for the people who verify information in the glossary and validate new entries. Ideally, you want to limit the number of people who can modify the content inside the database to secure consistency. 

6. Define Only Terms That Aren’t Self-Explanatory

Not all terms in a glossary require a definition–many of them already have one easy to find in established dictionaries. To cut down costs and streamline terminology management, only define those terms that don’t have a relevant definition in general dictionaries. 

As a guideline, focus on those terms that have special meanings in your sector or have received a unique sense inside your organization. You can also add a more accurate definition of those words and phrases often misused across industries. If you’re sure that no one needs an explanation for a specific term, don’t waste time creating one.

7. Keep Everything in One Place

For increased efficiency, manage all data in a single database. You can segment terms and create various data categories to facilitate navigation inside the glossary, but don’t use multiple platforms and tools to store information. 

Having all data in one place is much easier for people who need to access the terminology. Plus, it reduces the time necessary to complete projects and increases the quality of your content. 

Final Thoughts

Terminology management is less complicated than it seems and can significantly impact translation quality, costs, and time-to-market for global content. If you use the right tools and collaborate with a team of experts, you can streamline the process with an excellent return on your investment.