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Tips For Formatting Documents Prior To Legal Translation

Legal Francesco Pagano on Sep 9, 2015 12:03:34 PM

Judges gavel, books, and scales of justiceLegal document translation typically require fluency in two languages and an in-depth understanding of legal terms (for at least two countries). Yet, there is a third skill that is essential for successful legal translations: formatting the original document so that the translated document can match its original. If you require certified translations for your documents, continue reading for several formatting tips. If you follow these tips closely, you could save money, time, and frustration throughout the translation process.

The Importance Of Proper Formatting

It’s essential for the target document to match the original document, meaning that all signatures, stamps, and seals must be placed in the exact place as the original. Page breaks must also be maintained, so if a sentence breaks on the 2nd page of a contract in the original document, it should also break on the 2nd page for the target document.

Unfortunately the differences in languages complicate the process, making it difficult to keep things exactly as they are presented in the original. If you want to assist the translator complete an accurate translation, remember these tips when writing documents that will require translation.

Leave Extra Space On The Page Whenever Possible

When you are preparing your legal documents for the translation process, it’s beneficial to leave plenty of blank space. Doing so will help you to avoid:

Text Expansion

First, translation into some languages (like German and Spanish) will expand a document. These kinds of languages have long words, and often use more words to explain a concept than English does. For example, the German word “Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften” means "the insurance companies providing legal protection.” So, now do you understand how language can affect translation length? To save a lot of time and money on formatting legal translations, it’s best to give the document some extra padding. By the same merit, some languages produce shorter documents (these are typically for Asian languages); however, these languages come attached with their own unique challenges

Text Direction

This may be a surprise, but there are some languages that are read from right to left. Some scripts can be written vertically! Again, this drives home the point that it is important that you leave extra white space in your document.

While English, Spanish and German all read from left to right, there are plenty of languages that don’t. Hebrew, Farsi, Arabic, and Urdu are all written from right to left.

Avoid Small Tables in Legal Documents

Sometimes it is necessary to include columns and tables in legal documents; however, it is important that you avoid using columns or tables that are too narrow. As a rule of thumb, if the table/column fits perfectly in the source document, it’s likely that it won’t be the same for the target document. Though, if you leave plenty of extra space for expansion, tables can be used and could make formatting easier for certain kinds of documents. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us beforehand.

Final Thoughts

Let’s face it: no one wants to miss an important document. We understand that when you need translations for contracts, depositions, or other legal documents, you likely need it done quickly.

Remember, every detail counts when you are preparing for your legal document translation, whether it is the font you choose or how you space the text. Redesigning the entire document format and layout after translation into another language is a waste of resources, so it is important to be proactive and get it right the first time.

iTi | Legal Translations

While a law degree is not necessary, it is important that the legal translator has studied and is thoroughly familiar with the laws and legal institutions in both the source and target countries, as well as the linguistic issues that come up when converting concepts and terms from one legal system to another. iTi's dedicated and experienced teams offer a wide range of multilingual solutions for domestic and global corporations in a variety of industries. With our expansive resources, you can take advantage of communication services on a global scale, creating, managing, and distributing your content in any format. You are welcome to contact us to request a quote for your language translation project.