How to write for Machine Translation Part 1

So you want to achieve faster outputs and lower costs from your Machine Translation? Well look no further…

When it comes to deciding if machine translation (MT) can fit into your localization strategy, one of the biggest challenges faced is whether or not your content would actually be suitable.

Machines are not as capable as humans at deconstructing complex texts, so just remember that if a human would have difficulty understanding what you have written, a machine wouldn’t stand a chance! In order to achieve maximum results (both in terms of quality and cost) from your MT solution, it is essential to write your documentation in a clear, coherent, concise, and structurally correct way.

In this 2 part blog, we will give you all the tips you need to create content optimized for machine translation. This does not have to be an arduous task; the simpler your writing is, the easier it will be for a machine translation engine to understand it.


Tip 1. Spell check

This might sound like a basic rule, but a machine translation engine is not as astute as a human, and cannot accurately identify and translate a word that has been spelled incorrectly. Make sure that you proofread your content before running it through your translation engine.

Tip 2. Recycle sentences

A machine translation engine can be clever when it comes to phrases that have been repeated throughout the document, and can recognize and accurately translate them in a consistent manner. Try to write phrases that can be used several times throughout your documentation, and costs will diminish.

For example, you could use the below phrases within several sections of the same document:

“Follow these three steps to build your Capita MT engine:

1. Gather your data 2. Build the Capita MT engine 3. Translate your files”

Tip 3. Keep to a simple grammatical structure

Do not over-complicate the structure of your sentences. Ensure that each phrase is complete (begins with a capital letter, has one main clause, and has an ending punctuation).

For example:

Good sentence = Machine translation can play a vital role in your localization strategy.

Bad sentence = Your translated copy, as part of your localization strategy, can be assisted by a machine that plays a vital role; that which we call machine translation.

Tip 4. Keep your sentences short and simple

Although some intelligent MT systems are able to handle lengthy sentences, try to keep to the notion that one idea = one sentence. Where possible, break long sentences into two shorter ones. Keep your sentences between 5-25 words, as these are the easiest sentences for a machine to translate. Sentences of less than 5 words though can prove to be problematic, as they are seen to be vague or ambiguous.


These 4 tips prove how easy it is to write content that is ideally suited to machine translation! Not fully convinced? Next week we will provide 4 further tips on how to create content optimized for MT.

If you can’t wait until then, visit our Machine Translation pages to find out more, or contact us for an in-depth discussion on how machine translation can benefit you.



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