The following guidelines will help ease localization and increase comprehensibility.
- If possible, use words that have a precise and confined meaning. For example, use "Install the application" instead of "Set up the application." Simpler, more unambiguous terminology makes your content easier to understand. Using short, concise paragraphs also helps reduce the risk of misinterpreting what you are trying to say.
- Use the same term to express a specific meaning or concept. For example, do not use "remove" and "delete" interchangeably.
- Include "optional" words (words that are often omitted) in sentences. Omitting such words might increase the chance of misunderstanding your content. For example, "You can change the Admin.tpl and the Admin.inf files using the Template utility." can have two different interpretations: "You can change the Admin.tpl and the Admin.inf files that use the Template utility." or "You can change the Admin.tpl and the Admin.inf files by using the Template utility." Either sentence could be correct depending on the context.
- Use consistent capitalization for proper nouns and for user interface (UI) terminology. Doing so will help standardize these items for the localizer.
- Use "close" or "tight" punctuation (despite the current tendency to use less punctuation). This helps reduce confusion for the translator and the reader and breaks complex sentences into easily digestible parts.
- Do not omit articles ("a," "an," and "the"), and use correct capitalization and punctuation. Following these rules will help remove ambigu ity from-and add clarity to-your content, which reduces the burden on the reader and also reduces the likelihood of mistranslations.
- Avoid using alphabetical lists (with tables, glossary entries, Microsoft MS-DOS commands, keyboard shortcuts, or any other type of reference) that cannot be regenerated automatically. Alphabetical order breaks during localization of the text because entries have to be reordered, a very time-consuming task. Lists can often be extremely long, as in the case of reference glossaries. Therefore, limit their use, unless you can provide localizers with some type of sorting utility.
- Do not use a noun as a verb. Use "Establish contact with the company." instead of "Contact the company." Use "This feature makes your operating system current." instead of "This feature currents your operating system." The following sentence is an even better choice, since "up to date" is more precise than "current": "This feature makes your operating system up to date."
- Avoid words that have opposite meanings. For example, the term "sanction" can mean "to approve" or "to punish."