The following guidelines will help ensure that your content takes into account the wide spectrum of cultural and local differences that exist among international readers.
- Remove any text that might raise cultural-sensitivity issues in order to create neutral, culture-independent content. Do not use slang and colloquial expressions; your international readers usually cannot distinguish the idiom from the literal meaning, which will make it harder for them to understand your content. Moreover, software localizers and translators can make similar mistakes as they localize the country-centric content.
- Avoid cultural-specific metaphors. A metaphor often carries with it some cultural connotations that might not have any relevance outside your country. A good example is the word "touchdown." Using this word to convey the meaning of an achieved goal won't be understood in many countries because American football, from which that term is borrowed, is not necessarily a familiar sport.
- Avoid humor. It adds neither value nor clarity to international content.
- Stay away from ambiguous words and jargon. Jargon is technical terminology-such as "dogfood" (sometimes used for software that is not fit for public consumption yet is utilized for internal purposes)-tailored for a par ticular business or profession. Jargon is almost never appropriate in globalized content.
- Spell out a term's acronym or abbreviation the first time the term appears, followed by the acronym or abbreviation in parentheses. Then, in the same topic or unit, you can just use the acronym. You should spell out the acronym at least once in every Help topic because readers randomly browse Help topics. Some abbreviations are accepted and should not be spelled out, even at first mention. (For example, you can use "St. Petersburg," as opposed to "Saint Petersburg.") Also, some technical abbreviations do not need to be spelled out at first mention because they are so widely used and understood (for example, TCP/IP, DHCP, or TAPI). Localization specialists can tell you whether acronyms are familiar to foreign users.