Joanna Tarasiewicz
January 25, 2023

15 Myths About Style Guides and Glossaries for Translation

myths about glossary for translation and translation servicesWhat is it about the fastest-growing businesses around the globe that makes them so successful?


Their unique identity and the experience they create for their customers. How do companies deliver consistent global experience throughout their content regardless of the language that their content is in? 

For the last 15 years here at ATL, we have been helping our clients establish their individual voice on the local markets. We've assisted our clients with their international expansion and we know that, other than top translation quality and proper preparation for localization project, the answer is: glossary and style guide.

There are many misconceptions shared among business owners about the influence that translation may have on their unique brand’s voice as well as about the role of glossary and the creation of a style guide in the localization process.

This article will debunk the 15 myths about translation services, glossary for translation, and style guides to help you really get to know your options and truly benefit from translation and localization of your content.

1. Glossary and Style Guide for Translation Are Not  Worth the Additional Fee




is glossary for translation worth the money



Some people claim that glossary translation and style guide creation are an unjustified expense. There are two groups of such individuals.

The first group can’t see the direct connection between their global success and following localization best practices. They believe in translation without key terms being reviewed by their local reviewers.

They also don't see any point in their brand's unique voice being defined before translating it into different languages, for example, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, German, Spanish and French.

The second group simply skips glossary and style guide creation completely. They still run their localization projects, though. They don't know that by skipping those steps, they are heading towards certain consequences.

2. We Don't Have Time to Focus on Glossary                Translation or Style Guide Creation




no time for glossary for translation


Many believe that glossary translation slows down the translation process.
They could not be more wrong. Preparing a glossary in advance saves time. You receive the translation sooner and there is very little possibility that time-consuming corrections of inconsistencies will be necessary.

Glossary may be referred to as lexicon, term base, and terminology collection. It very often consists of a spreadsheet with columns, a list of original terms and their translations, often into several languages.

The list of terms is reduced to the smallest number of items possible. The shorter the list the better.

Glossaries should contain only the terms specific to your product, the translation, as well as the definition. It can also contain pictures, links, and other references.
By preparing a comprehensive glossary in advance you also avoid receiving numerous queries from the linguists during the localization project.

3. We Don't Have Resources to Select Key Terms or  Create a Style Guide for Translation




no resources to create glossary for translation


The days of manually created glossaries are long gone. Today, there are tools that help translation companies prepare them.

Previous versions or other product documentation can be scanned for already translated versions thanks to the CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) tools. This helps you save time and money spent on translation from scratch.

Next, you validate the terminology for correct usage in each language. This is done by your product experts that speak the language of the translation.
It can be a local distributor or a local marketing person. The glossary is reviewed to make sure that it is translated according to your expectations.

4. Isn't It a Translator's Job to Translate Glossary?

You are the owner of the glossary and its translations come from you, even though the actual translations are suggested by the translation company.
The final decision for using a certain translation for a particular term is your call.

Also, you have the right to change the terms, but you need to be aware of the consequences. Whenever a term is changed, this may lead to inconsistencies within the project.


It means that the user can be misled, or your buyers can have difficulties in following product instructions. This leads to poor user experience, bad product reviews on the local markets, and may also result in a lower purchase rate for your product.

5. Style Guide Management is None of Our                  Business




tam work on glossary for translation



Working on a glossary involves the translation company as well as technical writers, content creators, your reviewers, and developers.


If you neglect the teamwork with regard to glossary management, this may lead to chaos and chaos means lost time and additional money spent.

When a new feature is created that is unique to your product, its name and individual features should be added to the list of product specific terminology.
The people who know anything and everything about its usability and characteristics can work on reference materials like photos and descriptions.

Next, the content writers use this information for your website, technical writers use it in documentation, and the translation team translates the term which is then validated by your local distributor.

Anything that doesn't bridge the whole team leads to time wasted on corrections, email exchange, and query management.


6. There's No Need to Create a Style Guide.

It's just grammar, after all.

The style guide is not a set of grammar rules for a language.

Asking for a style guide does not mean that the translation team doesn’t know how to translate. It does not mean the translation providers are not experienced.

On the contrary, it means you are cooperating with localization experts who care about your successful global expansion. It is a set of rules for how your company will present your voice globally through text and visuals.

It consists of rules like capitalization of names and categories, the format of measuring, etc. It also provides information about what tone of voice is preferred and which grammar rules apply above others.

A style guide is a tool that organizes the way that businesses share their brand personality and identity to their audience through their content, regardless of its type.


This way you have a guarantee that your multilingual website, translated marketing content, localized software, and translated product information will convey the same message in the same voice, tone, and style without confusing your customers.



7. We Don't Want to Invent New Terms




inventing new terminology for translation



You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

There are translations of terms that can be reused. Other may not apply to your previous products or previous versions of your products. You may also use widely available terminology collections.

Microsoft shares their terminology together with its translation. You can start from there and further develop your unique terminology.


8. Once a Glossary is Done, You Can't Change It

Terminology is always a project in progress.

Terminology grows and evolves with your business, products, services, and value propositions. You can update your terminology at anytime.

What you need is the possibility to access the list of terms and immediately have it updated with all team members involved in the project. You just need to establish a process together with all the parties involved ,especially with your translation company.

Terminology can be reviewed every quarter, for example. It's important to remember that when there is a change in terminology, everyone involved in the project needs to be informed about that.

Updating terminology should be done only by authorized people and the history of changes should be recorded. This is done with the use of contemporary translation tools used by most translation companies.


9. Do Not Add New Terms to the Glossary List

Terminology is important not only for human translations, but it also helps projects supported by Machine Translation (MT).
In this area, glossary helps the AI powered MT engines decide which domain is being translated.







Related content: What Happens When You Experiment With Machine Translation






There are also experiments conducted by making the engines choose one term (the client approved term) over others, which inevitably makes the final product of machines more human-like.

If you don’t have the whole list of glossary-ready terms before starting the project, start with what you already have. You only managed to prepare a list of terms for the text assigned for translation but not for the whole project? No problem. The rest can be done later on.


10. We Don't Need Translation Services at This Point


Translation is one of the conditions of successful product launch on the local markets.

It enables you to reach your international customers with your marketing, training, and product materials. Allowing a wider range of clients to access the information in their own language makes your business grow worldwide.







Related content: 5 Benefits You Get from Working With a Translation Agency






Very often, translations are required by law. This is the case most often for medical products, food, or cosmetics. There are different rules in different countries, but in most cases product launch on a local market has to be accompanied by the translated documentation.

Multilingual website and printed marketing material in the local language are not an obligation, but lead to higher global visibility and more potential customers.

You enter new markets to increase sale. 75% of people won’t buy a product just because it is not in their local language. That is something to think about.


11. Our Internal Resources Can Translate Our              Content




unhappy resources about having to do additional translation tasks



Translation cannot and should not be done by just any bilingual person.

It takes experience and knowledge to be able to provide professional translation services. It requires experience in working with translation software. Most translation projects nowadays are assisted by technology that helps maintain the quality and consistency of your content translation.







Related content: Translation Agency Vs. In-house Marketing Team: Who Should Translate Your Content?






It takes more than just a bilingual person to translate a legal contract or a patent documentation. A bilingual person may not necessarily be experienced enough to transcreate (creatively translate) your slogans so that they inspire the need to purchase your product locally.


12. We Don't Really Need Translation Software

Translation is powered by translation software which is getting better and better each year.

The Nimdzi Technology Atlas 2019 lists 500 products on the list of language technology. There are separate terminology management tools as well as built in modules for tools with a more universal use in translation technology.







Related content: Top 10 Translation Tools: A Complete Review






There are many options to choose from and everyone can find a solution that suits their needs and compliments their workflow. There is no need to work on translation services, glossary or style guide creation manually.


13. Translation Company Means Translators

Professional translation companies consist of various experts, not just translators.
There are project managers, vendor managers, localization engineers, linguists, sales people, department directors, etc.

According to Esther Bond’s 2018 publication The Stunning Variety of Job Titles in the Language Industry at Slator, there are over 600 different job titles related to localization industry.

All of them work for your global success.


14. Translation Projects Are Time-Consuming




translation is time consuming



Translation service providers are no longer a distant island on your global expansion horizon.

Translation companies can now connect tightly with your workflow through the integration of their system with your platform. It starts with immediate content flow from your content repository directly to the translation tools.







It is transparent how much you will pay for the translation (and save on it) because the content is analyzed against your TM (Translation Memory) located in the CAT tools.

You can see the translation project progress and easily manage versions. If anything needs to be updated, you don’t have to reassign the whole document. Just point out the part that needs an update and it can be incorporated directly into your website as soon as it’s back from the translator.


15. Translation Is Just a Cost

Translation is never just a cost, it’s an investment.

You can’t see that if you translate a couple of documents, but you will see it in bigger campaigns.

When you start with your software UI translation, these translated terms and options are stored in the TM. You paid the price for UI translation but when you send your documentation for cost analysis, you will see that the previously translated content will be leveraged to your benefit.







Related content: How to Really Save on Translation and Localization






You will receive a translation discount, because the already-translated content can be reused. The same happens when you move on to your marketing translation. The previously translated pieces will also reduce the cost of translation.

With regard to the glossary, once it’s done, keep it handy for each and every translation assignment.

Forget the Myths and Continue Growing Your Business on Global Market




global market



The misconceptions about translation services, glossary, and style guide are not populated by localization service providers. Most of them are myths that come from the outside and it is difficult to find their original source.

However, now you know what is not true and you know the facts. Going through the real factors which are needed for establishing your brand's successful international presence can save you a lot of time.

Building your presence on the global market starts from opening your company. This is the first step towards your international success because you start creating your own, unique brand. After that, you work on your local success and when the time is right you cross the boundaries and start reaching a broader audience.

Remember to prepare for localization before you even consider going global. Eventually you can start thinking about translation and building a multilingual glossary as well as creating your brand’s style guide.

Whenever you are ready, let us know and we can assist you with all your localization needs.


Recommended articles:

7 Tips to Avoid Wasting Your Translation Budget

How to Boost the Translation Into Multiple Languages at Once