Content source optimisation (CSO) is about preparing a source text and other content to facilitate the content’s localisation or translation. The aim is to devise content which is easy to translate or localise.
CSO is based on four core activities that offer a myriad of benefits to organisations.
The CSA’s content source optimisation checklist
To help you with your content source optimisation efforts, the CSA has identified specific areas for improvement and offered solutions.
1. Start with the basics
The basics are always a good place to start and you can progress to complicated issues as you eliminate basic issues. The CSA’s checklist contains 14 best practices which apply to content, including:
- Style guidelines
- Spelling and grammar
- Making sure the text can be processed with manual correction
- Following legal regulations, locale-specific needs and all other requirements
Once you’ve covered the basics, you can go through the terminology of the text. You should check for inconsistencies and terms which fail to project a brand’s guidelines or technical details. Even the use of a spreadsheet with basic terms and translations can go a long way.
3. Quality of text
This section is about going over linguistic features of the source and identifying constructions which are often difficult for linguists by creating confusion in terms of meaning.
Structure is about how information is designed above sentence level, in chapters, sections and paragraphs. The aim is to ensure the logical flow of information.
Use this section to check mark-up and style sheets and control the appearance of a piece of content. This will ensure the structure is clear and the translators will be able to adapt to local requirements without manual reformatting.
Graphics often pose a problem for linguists, as they tend to mix images and text which require careful re-engineering. Text expansion and text embedding are usually the biggest challenges. One solution is to remove text from the graphics and then embed markers which the surrounding text can reference.
7. Audio visual
AV content in a source text is also a challenge for translators, as they may encounter spoken translations which are longer than the source text and therefore take up more time than media creators actually allow. For instance, in Germany the subtitles drop as much as 30% of the information from the source to allow viewers enough time to read them.
The checklist is adaptable to your requirements
The CSA’s checklist assumes that English is the source, but authors of other language will have to adapt some of the items to reflect their characteristics. Different types of content may also require different or additional checkpoints for content source optimisation to be comprehensive.
The CSA’s checklist is a good starting point for developing your own version that addresses the concerns you come across in source content. Be sure to keep the number of issues you use in your checklist manageable and concentrate on the elements which cause the most problems.