Pack copy translations need careful collaboration between the retailer or manufacturer and your chosen translation supplier. Here are our top tips when preparing pack copy for translation:

1. First decide whether you need pack copy translations.

Some jurisdictions and product types may not require translation at all. For example, you don’t need Irish Gaelic on pack in Ireland. English is an official language of India. Indian consumers often view English products as premium products. Translating into 10 or more Indian languages may not be good. The consumer may think you are a cheep Indian alternative, and not a premium international product. Do of course check for any state legal requirements.

2. Prepare an editable copy of the source language text.

An editable source text allows your supplier to quickly and efficiently give you a quote for the work. Translation is essentially time for money. None editable text takes time to process both when preparing a quote, or when actually doing the translation.

3. Plan carefully how you want to use any marketing text.

For example, if you have an English food product, do you want the full marketing title of the product translated? There are of course legal requirements for most types of products about labelling in the local language(s). Don’t make the mistake of dropping all the marketing text in the face of pressure for space on pack. Don’t forget that this text is often what sells the product! Consumers are much more likely to buy a product with the marketing description applied clearly and prominently in their language. Don’t hide it on back of pack, or drop it altogether.

4. Be clear on who is responsible for legal compliance.

This is a complex area, but in general, your translators will reflect the source text, not guess at alternative wording! This means that the source language text should be compliant for the target market(s) before your translators start work.

5. Identify the sections of text clearly:

When preparing the source text files, label the text as carefully as possible. Your artworkers will need to be able to clearly identify what goes where.

6. Be careful with file formatting.

Hidden text, or text appearing outside of cells in an Excel, can cause problems for a translator. The translator may not spot the text, or it may give formatting problems when adding the target language.

7. Take care with none-translatable text.

Be careful if your file has sections which do not need translation. For example there could be instructions for the artwork team. You may use a product specification for the source text. This could include lots of important information which does not need to be translated. One of two things will happen if this type of text isn’t identified. You may have the translation team spending (your) time and money on text which shouldn’t be translated. They may miss something which is vital, leaving it in the source language, when it should be translated. The last thing you need is missing translation when you have an urgent print deadline.

8. Any manipulation of text risks error, so keep text changes to a minimum.

Never be tempted to split a text into part sentences, translation is always contextual, and not word by word. There is also a balance here with repetition. With a large range of products, separate out any repeated standard text, rather than the translators resupplying it every time. Good examples would be “best before” statements and “produced and packed” or other COO statements. It may be cleaner and simpler for your translators to supply it for every item. Otherwise the artworkers will have to take text from several files.

9. Review and update translations.

Languages change and develop over time. A 10 year old translation may look odd and inappropriate to today’s consumer. You can often still improve great translation, so do check and verify previous translations before reusing them.

10. Always check the finished product:

It is very easy to make errors on pack, even from perfect translations. It is very difficult for an artworker to spot an error in a language they don’t speak. Things can easily go wrong, for example with cut and paste errors. Some errors are obvious . For example, If you have pasted Chinese in the Arabic section of the artwork. Could you distinguish Simplified from Traditional Chinese, or 2 similar Nordic languages like Norwegian and Swedish?

Better Languages specialise in packaging translation, working with many leading UK and international brands. More information can be found on our packaging translation services page, or you can call us on +44 (0)115 9788980 to discuss your requirements.