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How to Create a Terminology Glossary and Why It’s Important

How to Create a Terminology Glossary and Why It’s Important

​​A terminology glossary is a list of defined key terms used by your company and clients with their approved translations in all target languages.

Creating a glossary at the beginning of a translation project is an effective way to eliminate uncertainty during the translation process. It also decreases the time spent looking up definitions for complex terminology.

What’s more, it can benefit future translations, allowing translators to look back at how certain words or phrases were previously translated and used.

What to Include

Key Terms. Extracting terminology is at the heart of glossary creation. Members of a translation project, usually language leads, will review all the material provided by the client to compile a comprehensive list.

The following types of terms should be included:

  • Industry-specific terms – These are terms you want to have translated differently instead of using widely used translations adopted by other companies or the public. Certain words with multiple meanings can also create problems for translators. For instance, “nail” could refer to the tough protective protein on our fingers or a metal spike used to keep objects together. 
  • Company-specific terms – These are terms associated with a business, product, or service. They could also be people's names, copyrighted, or trademarked terms that should not be translated.

  • Target audience terms – Include localized terms that your target market is likely to use and understand. Using these terms will help you create a deeper engagement with your audience and enhance your company’s image.

  • Keywords – Keeping a list of keywords that your target market uses will improve your SEO and increase your online presence in a foreign market.

  • Non-translated terms – These are the terms that need to be left untouched during the translation process.

Definitions. Clear definitions are crucial to ensure that translators fully understand each term and usage correctly. Definitions should be able to tell you which part of speech the term belongs to, its meaning in the source language, and whether or not it has a specific meaning in the context of your documents.

Preferred Translations. Although this is an optional element, your company may have preferred translations for specific terms. It can help with the consistency of word choices and ensures that certain words and phrases are translated the way you want them to be from the get-go. Clients and translators should be in agreement about the preferred translations before the translation process begins.

Benefits of Using a Terminology Glossary 

Time Efficiency. Having a good glossary reduces back-and-forth discussions between clients and translators on how to handle certain terms. It also speeds up the translation process significantly and eliminates the possibility of a rework.

Cost Saving. Glossaries provide translators with a standardized, authoritative reference that can eliminate unnecessary expenses from the outset.

Consistency. Certain terms can have various translations in the target language. With a glossary, you can ensure that terms will be translated accurately and consistently throughout a text. This will prove even more helpful if the translation project is handled by multiple translators, as a glossary will make sure all of them are on the same page about how terms are translated.

Maintaining Brand Identity. A terminology glossary can be seen as a bespoke dictionary for translators. Consistent translations allow your customers to easily identify your messages and brand images in different languages.