Chapter 9: Content Localizability Guidelines

Chapter 9: Content Localizability Guidelines


  • User assistance (UA): Refers to any form of documentation (including printed documents, online documents, and Help files) that corresponds to a particular product.
  • Content recycling: Reusing content in localization. Content recycling saves time and money because the content is researched, presented, edited, reviewed, and translated only once.

When building a product, you have to consider the software and its corresponding documentation as one entity. A world-ready product does not just mean world-ready software; all the supporting documentation must also be made world-ready.

For documentation to be world ready (that is, globalized and localizable), it must meet the following requirements:

  • The content must be kept as simple as possible and should follow basic writing style principles such as those found in The Chicago Manual of Style.
  • The content (whether text, art, or multimedia) must be culturally acceptable, politically correct, and inoffensive to an international audience, regardless of whether the material is to be localized. There are several reasons for this-even for products that are not localized, Canadian, British, and Australian readers (at a very minimum) read the same U.S. English version of the documentation. Moreover, readers often look at the English version of the Help files.
  • The content must follow consistent patterns. Content recycling tools rely on documentation that adheres to strict style guidelines and consistency rules across successive releases of a product. This consistency speeds up content translation and helps control localization costs.
  • No matter what locale is selected, the Help system must have the same functionality.

Of course, not all content will be localized. For instance, no product is localized into all the languages of the world. Nor are all platforms of a product (such as Microsoft Windows XP) localized into the same set of languages. In addition, many companies throughout the world use software that has not been localized, and many books written to assist in using the software are available only in English. Nevertheless, even if your content remains in English, it still must meet the requirements just listed.

UA content that is globalized properly has two advantages. First, it is easier to be understood in its intended local marketplace as well as in markets that are culturally different but that read the same language. Second, it is ready to be localized with a minimum of difficulty-in other words, the content becomes localizable. Whether your content involves printed or online text, art and multi-media, or a Help system, you should adhere to the best practices presented in this chapter to speed up the localization process and to minimize the potential for inadvertently confusing (or offending) the reader.

Microsoft Corporation - Developing International Software
Developing International Software
ISBN: 0735615837
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 198

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