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Challenges of using electronic media with translated content

There are various simple steps that can be taken to minimise the impact of translated languages on electronic media.
Everyone knows that the world has moved on since use of blackboards, over-head projectors, telegrams and snail-mail (if you don’t know what any of these are, ask your parents). Any communication professional will now consider a range of options to get their message across. For example, a clinical trial newsletter could be sent out using email, posted on a website, or via direct social media, alongside more tradition hard-copy in the post. However, the new electronic age also brings new challenges for translation.

Websites and electronic mail shots often use templates in the programming software to generate the final communication (such as HTML or ‘Eloqua’ - electronic mail shot generation software). These programs are designed to work well with the original source language (generally English). However, there are often problems when different languages are used. The words can be translated conventionally, but attention also needs to be given to the background software that generates the email or website. One example is that various languages require right-to-left reading (such as Tamil, Hebrew or Arabic languages). If the ‘source-code’ is not written with this in mind, then this can cause the electronic presentation to fall-over.

Issues with presentation and final document generation are generally dealt with after the translation has been carried out. This is part of the service at Conversis Medical (referred to as digital DTP or software localisation). However, fixing problems after they occur can sometimes be time-consuming and costly and lead to delays. Worst-case can be generating each copy in each language separately by manually copy/pasting the translated content into an email or inserting an image into the emails, which can be frustrating for 25 languages!

There are various simple steps that can be taken to minimise the impact of translated languages on electronic media. These can be as simple as using a more relevant version of a font that is compatible with the target languages (such as Ariel CE for Central European languages). It may be an initial investment to install new fonts and remove old ones, or to make your email template compatible with a wider range of languages, but it could save time and cost in the long-run, and get the trials to happen sooner and reduce the stress for all involved.  

Dr Mark Hooper is a director at Conversis Medical. 
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26th April 2016



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