Why Do You Need A Translation Brief?

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Written by: pTranslate Contributors


Generated even before the translation process begins, a translation brief provides invaluable insights into the client’s objectives and expectations. It serves as a guide and a reference point for the project ahead.

Translation briefs are generally short and straight-to-the-point, which may make people underestimate their importance. In fact, not many clients even bother with creating a detailed brief, but rather leave everything to the translator’s judgement. Yet, it is these briefs that facilitate understanding and communication as the project unfolds. They lay concrete foundation for all phases of the project and orient the translator in the exact direction that the client wishes to. .

In this article, we will explore in detail the immense benefits that a well-written Translation Brief can bring to the translators and the clients. Both parties benefit from a usually-no-more-than-5-page document.

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1) A Good Translation Brief Ensures That Everyone Is On The Same Page

A well-written and detailed translation brief ensures that everyone involved, from the Client, Translator, the Proofreader, the Editor, to even the Designers, are on the same page.

This is simply because not everyone is going to be there when the client explains their requirements. Most of the time, the Translator is the only one receiving the order and carrying out their requirements and trying to fulfill their expectations. If they try to “tell” other team members what the client expects, they might end up tell more or less information than it actually is.

Moreover, not everyone is involved in the entire process. Some members only contribute to a small portion of the project. It is counterproductive to brief this group all of the information the client gave, while all they need is probably only 10% of the information.

A clear brief stored in a digital file is going to solve this problem. Everybody receives one. When they need some clarification, they can open the file and search for the information they need.

2) Translation Brief Helps You Navigate Through The Unknown

Although a translation brief is primarily created with the aim of summarizing the information essential for the project, it ends up helping all parties involved realize the “blind spots”.

It helps you realize the unknown.

Or at least, it points out the parts that you need more research into to understand more before starting the project.

By making the effort to reconcile that issue and supplement your Translation Brief with additional information, requirements, design rules, you will end up with a considerably stronger understanding of your needs (as a client) and help the translator determine the path they can take to help reach your objectives.

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3) A Translation Brief Communicates A Vision

A Translation Brief is not just a database of facts that you collect and compile into a single file. It goes beyond all of that. Sometimes it helps you capture the brand voice, the tone of the company’s previous products, the overall message, the “personality” of the brand, the brand vision, and many other intangible aspects of language and communication.

In other words, it brings a context to the translator. By looking at a translation brief, they know how the document they translate has been formed. They know as clear as day the wants, requires, and needs of the clients. With such valuable information, they will be able to craft a clear plan in mind before commencing the project.

4) Translation Brief reduces uncertainty and encourages effective messaging

The translation brief encourages and facilitates effective messaging throughout the project.

They say communicating is key. And they are not wrong.

Slight communication goes a long way. It takes quite a lot of time and effort to reverse the damage of miscommunications, depending on the scale of the problem. By successfully establishing a clear starting point, finishing line, and the path to reach it, the clients have eradicated the uncertainty along the way. They also reduce the need of back-and-forth calling and messaging for clarification on minor linguistic issues.

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5) It sometimes fills the translator with Inspiration

Strange as it may sound, a good Translation Brief can even fills the translator will some inspiration and motivation. This is because they know that the client has put some effort into the project and dedicate their time to craft a brief, which will guide the translator to complete their job more easily.

More interestingly, when working on Literary Translation project, reading a Translation Brief is essentially reading the review of the work by the author him/herself. It helps the Translator spark some ideas and get them into the right state of mind before they get down to work.

As long as the Translation Brief is well-thought, well-crafted, and carefully presented, the translator will happily take on the project with a newfound sense of excitement.

6) Translation Briefs Serve as A Great Point of Reference Even When The Project Has Ended.

Even when the client has received the order, totally satisfied, gave a 5 star, and recommended pTranslate to their network, the Translation Brief won’t decrease in value. Not in the slightest.

This is because we don’t expect to work on one-off project. We expect to work on a long-term basis.

Once a client provides us with their Translation Brief, we carefully save it to our Database. If the next project comes up, we can pull the Translation Brief from the Database and send it to our team. They can now use it again as a dependable reference point for any issues that may arise in the process.

It is also a reminder that a success was achieved thanks to that very route we took, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t rely on it to go forward once again. If necessary adjustments are needed, we are happy to do it, too.

So, as a client, don’t throw away your Translation Brief. Keep it, as it might come in handy down the road.


A good brief provides so much value to both parties. It might take a while to create a good brief. However, if properly written, a brief can potentially save a lot of time and effort that may occur due to a lack of mutual understanding. It also ensures that the project goes in exactly the direction you – the client – want it to go. Isn’t it wonderful?

Feel free to share in the comment section your experience in creating a wonderful translation brief. Opinions and thoughts are welcomed!

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