How to Write a Style Guide

Tips on why and how to write a translation Style Guide for your translators.

What is a Style Guide?

As the name suggests, a style guide provides guidelines for your translators to use when translating your content for a new audience. These guidelines examine areas like the tone of the translation, types of words to use, punctuations, language style, purpose, brand voice, and so on.

A translation style guide should be unique to your company and in keeping with your brand and message. A law firm, for example, might use more formal language and legally correct terms, while a site selling casual clothing might go for a more laid-back feel with its language and style. When you are expanding your market and want your brand to convey the same message to a foreign audience, a localization style guide is useful to keep your messaging and brand voice consistent.


Adding a Style Guide to your Localize project

You can add a translation Style Guide in the Project Profile settings in your Localize dashboard.

PLEASE NOTE: Style Guides are unique to each project you set up in Localize. So, you'll need to add Style Guide information to each project you create.

Why include a Style Guide?

If you are expanding your market and want your brand to convey the same message to a foreign audience, a localization style guide is useful to keep your messaging and brand voice consistent. A well written style guide helps ensure your translator delivers work that meets your requirements as closely as possible. You can read more about the benefits of using a Style Guide here.


Did you know?

When you set up a Style Guide in Localize, your style guidelines will automatically be sent along with your human translation orders.

If you are using your own in-house translators, your style guide will be readily accessible in your dashboard to any translators that you invite to your project.

What should I include in my Style Guide?

Below are some essentials you'll want to include in your style guide.

1. Enter the link to your your website or platform

It's helpful to give a link to your application so the translator can view your project in context. If your content is behind a login, you should also consider providing a sample login and password.

2. Provide a brief description of your company

Give the translator a better understanding of your product and what you stand for.
For example: “BrandX creates lingerie for young trendy women / for older classy women and sells it into XX countries. Our products have a trendy / classic / luxurious style. Our lingerie is in the higher / lower / middle pricing segment.”

3. Give the context of your translation

For example: “These translations are used for marketing purposes and will be printed on flyers” or “These are translations of product descriptions and SEO is very important”. This helps the translator understands what the project is really about.

4. Indicate formal/informal

For languages which have a formal and informal way of addressing the reader, please indicate which you prefer.

For example: “In Dutch, use ‘Je / Jij’ to address the reader, in French and German use the formal way (Vous / Sie).

5. Describe the desired writing style

(e.g.: business, casual, funny, techy, etc.)

For example: “We would like the writing style to be young, fresh and casual, you can use informal expressions and sound friendly. You can even be tongue-in-cheek if possible” or “We would like our writing style to be luxurious and mature, avoid popular words like ‘fashionista’ or ‘shopaholic’, and use more classic terms instead”

6. Indicate length preferences, requirements, or limitations

Inform the translators if you have translation length preferences, requirements, or limitations.

In some languages (for example French), it’s very common to use very long sentences with a lot of commas. In other languages this isn’t common. Would the translator have the right to adapt the structure of the languages? And, are there any other specific rules for the structure of the sentences?
For example: “Keep sentences as short as possible.” (in case you have a max. character count per sentence).

7. Indicate words that shouldn't be translated

In some languages, English words are used more often than their translations. Indicate which words should not be translated.
For example: “Certain terms can stay in English in all languages, for example: ‘fashion’, ‘lingerie’.” Or “Please don’t leave any English terms in the translations, ‘fashion’ becomes ‘mode’ in Dutch, and ‘lingerie’ becomes ‘ondergoed’.

8. Indicate whether titles should be translated

Should names of product titles also be translated? Some companies like to leave part of the product title in English.
For example: ‘Voorgevormde beha – Pink (the colour stays in English)’

9. Include specific instructions

This could be anything that you want to tell your translator. Here are a few examples to give you an idea:
• Please write out numbers
• Please use capitalization same as in source text
• Please don’t use diminutives (in Dutch ‘slip’ and not ‘slipje’)
• Feel free to slightly change the sentences if it feels more native in your language
• Please keep as close as possible to the source text

What’s Next

After completing your Style Guide, take a look at our Glossary feature.