How to Organize a Group Translation Project

There are a wide range of translation solutions available online that are cost effective or even free. If you need to have a large text translated into a foreign language, you might feel tempted to use automatic translation or get it done by an amateur for a low fee; but when the translation is intended as an aid to reach a potential new market, the stakes are high. You risk losing a new foreign market due to the lack of planning for the proper linguistic and cultural adaptation, which can only be done with the aid of a professional linguist in the target language.

Here's a brief guide for the management of large scale translation projects performed by a group of translators and proofreaders in order to achieve consistency and reach of the target audience.


  1. Image titled Organize a Group Translation Project Step 1
    Define your target audience. Take into consideration geographic location and dialectal differences of the language, education level, proper tone and address, specialty of the text, etc.
  2. Image titled Organize a Group Translation Project Step 2
    Plan for the number and types of language professionals you’ll need. Start by establishing a project manager, then the number of translators who will translate the bulk of the text, copy editors who will work with the translated text to ensure quality and consistency within the copy, and proofreaders to check for typos and format consistency.
  3. Image titled Organize a Group Translation Project Step 3
    Find language professionals from a reputable source. Examples include translation guilds and associations and well established Internet translator resource portals such as those listed below.
  4. Image titled Organize a Group Translation Project Step 4
    Read the material carefully. This is to plan for reference materials that should be made available to all the members of the translation group.
  5. Image titled Organize a Group Translation Project Step 5
    Create a style guide for the project. The guide must describe in detail: the defined target audience from step one, the format of the electronic files, submittal guidelines, and the writing style to follow (including the reference to a well known authority writing manual that the whole group should follow).
  6. Image titled Organize a Group Translation Project Step 6
    Make a list of repeating text within the whole. Think technical examples such as boiler plates, repeating headers, unique concepts, etc. Decide with the project manager on fixed translations for all of these, and include them in reference lists that will be made available for the other linguists to follow.
  7. Image titled Organize a Group Translation Project Step 7
    Create a timetable taking into account the possible workload per linguist per day.
  8. Image titled Organize a Group Translation Project Step 8
    Give to every linguist instructions. This includes detailing the scope of their responsibilities, a packet containing reference materials, style manuals, etc.
  9. Image titled Organize a Group Translation Project Step 9
    Ensure that the following flow of work is achieved:
    • Translators work with their copies and abide to their time schedules. Their translated copy should go to the editors.
    • Editors review for consistency, format and style and send their finished copy to the proofreaders.
    • Proofreaders check for typos and format mistakes working only with the translated copy and then by comparison with the initial copy in the origin language. Their finished copy should go back to the editors.
    • Editors review one more time to make certain that the copy is appropriate for the intended audience and that it reads as a text written originally in the target language and not as a translation.
    • Editors send their finished copy to the project manager who should consolidate all the copy and confirm its appropriateness for publishing and reach of the target audience.


  • If your project is large and involves several translators in each language, start with defining a glossary of the most frequently used words in your source text and have it translated into the different languages.
  • Work with electronic files of the origin text when available. This will make the word count, which is the translation industry standard for pricing, much easier.
  • Use translators whose native language is the target language, when possible. This is an industry standard as well and it ensures the copy will read as if it was written originally in the target language.
  • Although translation software usually translates poorly there are a number of translation aid software titles that can greatly aid the translation process. The industry standard uses software that creates a "translation memory." This aids in translating phrases that are the same or similar within a text. For some types of documents, particularly technical manuals, this can represent a significant portion of the text and can reduce the overall translation amount while also improving terminology unification.


  • Avoid the use of translation software. The intended reader will notice if the copy doesn’t read as if written originally in his language and will be put off by it, which will result in the loss of an important connection with your customer and a potential loss of revenue.
  • Do not think of the translation process as photocopying. A common pitfall is to expect immediate results and have long lapses between product submittal and payment of translators' invoices. A good translator/linguist cannot survive working in this manner. By hiring contractors who accept these guidelines, you are most likely not getting a professional and this will only harm your organization.

Sources and Citations

  • - Directory of professional translation services by freelance language translators & translation agencies
  • American Translators Association - ATA is a professional association founded to advance the translation and interpreting professions and foster the professional development of individual translators and interpreters. Its 9,500 members include translators, interpreters, teachers, project managers, web and software developers, language company owners, hospitals, universities, and government agencies.

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