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Your German to English Translation Checklist

A translator’s checklist for successfully translating from German to English!

This translator’s tried & tested checklist of things to consider when undertaking German to English translation work. A clear overview of all the steps involved in the translation process.

If you're translating professionally - rather than as a student (or for fun!) - then you’ll know that your German to English translation involves much more than simply the physical process of translating.

So I’ve designed this checklist to give you an overview of everything to consider during the translation process.

I hope you’ll find it helpful:

1. Qualified?

• Is this the language pair (e.g. German to English) you are qualified to translate? Do you need to take regional variations into account (e.g. UK English or US English)?
• Does the subject matter fall within your area of specialization? Are you comfortable with the subject terminology?
• Does the translation need to be done by an officially certified translator? (e.g. for use in court)

2. Audience

• What is your target readership? (e.g. native English speakers, an international audience, children, doctors...?)
• What is the purpose of the text? (Informative, authoritative, entertaining, persuasive....?)

3. Style

• Will the translation be published?
• Are you expected to adhere to specific terminology (e.g. pharmaceutical, legal, client’s own in-house style...)?
• Can the client supply background material/similar translations?

4. Format

• In what format will the text be delivered (e.g. PDF, Word document, specific in-house corporate design...)?
• Are you required to write directly into the original document?
• What format does the client want to receive the translation in (email, hard copy)?

5. Technology

• Do you have all the necessary software on your computer? (If you have a PC, can you work with documents produced on a Mac?)
• Are you confident about working with the software (e.g. Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat)?
• Are you expected to use CAT (Computer Aided Translation) tools such as Trados?

6. Logistics

• Who is your contact person(s)?
• Is the client supplying official terminology lists and glossaries?
• What’s your deadline for delivery?

7. Checking

• Have you read your translation through thoroughly?
• Do you need to add a translator’s note to highlight any translation decisions you made?
• Have you checked with the client on anything which is unclear (e.g. in-house abbreviations)?
• Will you be requested to do a layout check before your translation goes to print?

8. Rates

• Have you agreed on a per word (or per line) rate? Is this based on the source language (SL = German) or target language (TL = English)?
• Have you agreed a surcharge for working at the weekend or delivering within 24 hours?
• Do your rates include rewrites and proof-reading?

9. Payment

• When will payment be due (immediately after delivery, within 14 days, one month..)?
• Will you be adding sales tax/VAT?
• For foreign payments - who will pay the bank transfer charges?
• Have you taken exchange rate fluctuations into account?
• Will you be using online payment methods?
• Will there be compensation if the job is cancelled after you’ve started?

10. Legal

• For new clients, have you issued an official offer stating your terms and conditions, and has a signed copy been returned to you?
• Are you under an oath of confidentiality regarding the subject matter of the translation?
• Do you have the necessary level of professional indemnity insurance?

This German to English translation checklist has served me well over the years – I hope it'll help you too!

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Joanna Scudamore-Trezek

I'm a German to English translator living and working in Vienna,  Austria.  I turn German texts into clear and accessible English, allowing clients to present their stories, ideas and information to a completely new audience. My business and marketing clients rely on me to get their message across clearly and effectively.  How can I help you today?