Thursday, March 10, 2011

Glossary creation

Glossary creation

Glossaries are an essential tool for any translator. Every translation requires appropriate, subject-specific terminology and finding the necessary terminology involves thorough research. Working with glossaries will therefore save you time and help you achieve consistency across all your translations.

Glossaries require constant effort and are something you should be working on daily, adding new terms as you come across them. Of course, there are a number of ways in which you can compile a glossary. You can make it as simple or as complex as you wish. Just choose the method that works best for you!

In this post I am going to focus on my preferred method of glossary creation. Whether you are new to working with glossaries or simply want to improve the method you currently use, here is my simple step-by-step guide to creating bilingual glossaries in Microsoft Excel:

First you need to decide on the type of glossary you are going to create. Do you want to create a general glossary? Do you want to focus on one specific subject area? Do you want to make it client-specific? It doesn't really matter what you do, as long as the glossary suits its purpose and is of use to you during the translation process.

Generally, when creating an initial glossary, I take my source file and target file and spend some time going through the files to manually select the terminology I feel should be included. Once you have created this initial glossary, you can come back to it at any time when working on other projects and add new terms.

To compile the glossary in Excel, you need to create two columns. The first should contain your source term and the second the translation of the term in your chosen target language. You may find it useful to add a third column in which you provide a more detailed explanation of the term. I often include a small sentence as an example of the term's usage. 

Some clients will have a preferred translation for a specific term, even though there may be other options that are equally valid. If this is the case, this third column is the ideal place to add a note to this effect. I always do this and it has proved to be extremely useful in the past. Make sure to give each column a proper heading. This is something that will be very useful should you wish to import your Excel glossary into Multiterm later on (I'll go into detail about this in another post!)

Your glossary may contain any type of element, from abbreviations to full sentences if you wish. When adding an abbreviation to a glossary, I often find it useful to add a note in the third column indicating what the term is an abbreviation for, e.g. IPO (see Initial Public Offering).Of course, a glossary is much simpler to use in alphabetical order. When creating my initial glossary, I add the terms in the order that I come across them in the document. I then let the computer do all the hard work for me! In case you do not already know how to do this, here's how to get Microsoft Excel to alphabetise your glossary terms:

So there you have it. Glossary creation really is very simple. It may seem like hard work, but I can assure you it will be worth every minute in the long run!
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