An estimated 3.24 billion people worldwide played video games in 2021, an increase from 2.5 billion in 2020. This number is only expected to rise in the future. With 1.5 billion of these gamers residing in Asia alone, 715 million in Europe, 420 million in Latin America and 284 million in North America, it is important to envision your video game audience in a global context . 

With that said, it has become increasingly important for game developers and publishers to ensure their products are properly localized. But what exactly does that mean? What sets video game localization apart from other forms of localization? What are the specific features of this sub-field ?

Game Localization Is About Interactive Experience

Beyond the basic questions that need to be asked before localizing any product , video game localization requires precise considerations for  its medium. These are complex, even for the most advanced tools used in other localization fields.. It is essential to consider that video games are an interactive and  artistic form of entertainment that incorporates not only text but also visuals, sound effects, music and often voice acting. These all need to be adapted for distribution in different countries. Since this is a complicated project with many elements, here are some key items to consider when approaching this task :

  • How will players react and what changes are needed to ensure a true to spirit experience across all cultures?
  • What cultural norms and differences need to be taken into account? This is a very broad category that covers things like: 
  • appearance and dress of characters and game environments 
  • social relationships
  • religions and their representations
  • perception of violence
  • “coarse” or “vulgar” language
  • sex and sexuality
  • gender roles and identity
  • social taboos 

Of course, not all of these elements need to be adjusted for each game.

  • What idioms, visual codes and symbols or folklore need to be adjusted to the target culture, and to what degree?
  • What elements of the original game may have unintended meanings or interpretations in the target culture?
  • What cultural sensitivities of the target culture need to be taken into account?

The overall goal is to successfully translate the game experience into another culture. The level of localization depends on the studio’s budget, the access to localization resources, the target cultures, the game’s needs related to those cultures, etc. Still, you need to make sure that your game is not only playable, but also understandable, no matter where it is being released.

Video Game Localization Training

If you are interested in video game localization, and localization in general, the TCLoc Master’s Degree program offers a broad range of courses that will help you improve your skills in the field.

In this article, you will learn how to survive as a Technical Communicator in an Artificial Intelligence – determined Future.

Table of Content:

Artificial Intelligence Evolves

Do you follow the news of the recent developments in Artificial Intelligence? Have you, as a technical communicator, been affected by some harbingers of the technical transition ahead? Maybe you already noticed the supportive effect of machine learning systems but also the challenges and changes that come with them? 

With a transition comes uncertainty. If you feel uncertain about Artificial Intelligence and how it will affect your professional field of technical communication, try first to assess it in relation to the prior transitions which have already occurred. As such, only two immense transitions we have gone through will be associated with globalization and the digital revolution. From those transitions we derive the understanding of the extent of the transition ahead: it will be total. 

Artificial Intelligence gains ground. IBM Research calls it “fluid Intelligence” which means that Artificial Intelligence is supposed to “[…] combine different forms of knowledge, unpack causal relationships, and learn new things on its own.” The capability of learning independently probably is the most frightening to us as we seem to have had reserved this process for humankind. Still, as the digital revolution came to us and occupied many areas of our professional and daily life, many of us got used to the new accelerated pace of life very quickly even though the internet and all its supporting devices showed a certain intelligence that had not been known till then. Be aware of the fact that the human suspicion towards technical devices is as old as time.

Recent discussions about Artificial Intelligence point out that the work in professional fields with a high degree of education may be completely or partly automatized in the future. According to those debates, the standardization which is now a well-paid and important part of many professions will turn into a replaceable part. Consequently, it is important to get prepared in order to weather the transition and to position yourself accordingly for the future. 

Below, I will share useful insight and well-conceived recommendations which can form your starting point as well as shape your perspective for your future as a technical communicator in an Artificial Intelligence-determined environment.

Find Your Competences Beyond Standardization

I started as a regular freelance translator, who was very much interested in translating poetry or fictional literature, but I found out very soon, that this was not the path to pursue. Five years later I ended up as a legal translator, who translates all kinds of legal documents which are highly standardized, but cost the clients much more than the translation of a sophisticated poem by an unknown author. My story does not end here as I chose to apply for the TCLoc Master’s Program which will guide me to find my place in the world of technical communication. 

This is just one story out of so many that highlights how the professional fields that demand high levels of education also consist of a high degree of standardization. Standardization can also be sophisticated, but it is not creative and it is easily conquerable by well-functioning, intelligent algorithms as we can see demonstrated already by DeepL, a neural machine translation solution out of Hamburg. Consequently, fields involving standardization are the ones who will likely suffer initially from the transition ahead. We have to find out how we can preserve our value if this truth is going to toy with our competencies. 

We don’t know exactly what Artificial Intelligence will look like in the future, but we can already tell a bit about the shape it will take. Fluid intelligence might turn our understanding of our own intelligence upside down: new challenges will arrive with new competencies. With this, our understanding of higher-education will experience some twists and turns as the importance of human skills will probably change. 

Define Your Future Competence Area in Collaboration with Artificial Intelligence

So let’s have a practical look into this. Technical communication consists of two parts: technical and communication. The technical part will probably be overtaken very quickly. It is not the degree of complexity that is to be taken into consideration. It is the amount of logical and maybe repetitive working parts which can be easily assessed by an algorithm. The writing of mostly standardized documentation such as manuals, the fulfilment of legal requirements regarding the target market of the product and the products’ assembly instructions might be automatized soon.

The situation is different with communication. As we all know, language professions are already transforming. Machine learning systems have already shown to have a huge impact on the daily work of the translator. But, still, there is this human part in communication which is non-existent on the rational level. Humans don’t want to communicate with robots. Not even if the machine is more intelligent than they are. 

A technical communicator has to coordinate and  has to communicate plans of coordination with many people in the company. The technical communicator has to motivate the team in order to reach common milestones and in order to celebrate accomplished projects. Additionally, and most importantly, the technical communicator has to communicate with the target group. This individual has to adapt the documentation to this special group consisting of humans which has not only to be analysed but also understood. It is important to concentrate on the parts of work which will not be overtaken even though the tools will appear to have the capability to work on those tasks satisfactorily.

Develop Your Profession with Artificial Intelligence as a Supportive Tool

Artificial Intelligence might sound frightening to us right now. Nonetheless, it is deep within the history of humankind that humans have to prepare for unknown future transitions. Artificial Intelligence can be embraced and welcomed as a new tool which will turn our world upside down and which will make it better on the one side and worse on the other. Transition comes with both advantage and disadvantage.

The most important thing is to perceive the advantage and minimize your personal disadvantage. Artificial Intelligence will definitely be an enriching tool for many professions and part of our personal daily life. We have seen a similar development with the invention of the mobile phone. Many of us surely wouldn’t consider reversing this invention. We have to adapt to the upcoming perspectives and we have to educate ourselves.

Artificial Intelligence is not a mysterious miracle which cannot be understood. We, as technical communicators, have to find information ourselves and we have to adapt documentation to certain target audiences. Let’s regard Artificial Intelligence as a new product which we have to write the documentation for. Write the documentation for yourself. You are the target group. Get acquainted with the new tool which we will have at our disposition in the future, and analyse it in order to get prepared.

Get Involved into Your Company’s Future Needs

After you’ve sufficiently analysed your own target audience regarding Artificial Intelligence, do the same with your company. You can be the person who is aware of the future transitions and who will be able to recommend strategies to your company in order to master the challenge in a beneficiary way. As this is also part of the job profile of the technical communicator: raise awareness in your company for certain needs.

During the Tekom training I’ve learned a lot about the fact that technical communication is a new field of work which has to be justified within companies as they often don’t see the need of investing in high quality documentation. Consequently, you, as a technical communicator, are able to take your experience concerning in-house negotiations and enlarge it onto the future role of Artificial Intelligence in the company.

Start Now !

To express this in a nutshell: 

  • Adapt your knowledge and your professional routines to Artificial Intelligence. 
  • Take responsibility for your own future and do what you can do best: 
    • analyse the new product, 
    • educate yourself about new possible parts of your professional field, 
    • find strategies in order to implement Artificial Intelligence into your professional environment as a supportive tool.
  • Find solutions for your company and develop strategies that will allow your company to not only weather the transition, but also to find its new position on the market afterwards.
  • Find the part of your work that will remain irreplaceable in an Artificial Intelligence-determined future.

On our Master’s Program blog there is already very useful information and interesting articles about our future with Artificial Intelligence, so I recommend you starting right here!

Person-first– or people-first– language (PFL) is the default language etiquette expected in technical communication when referring to varying members of the disability community. This prevalent language format surrounding the disability community is not only encouraged but required, as PFL is considered the most respectful and appropriate style for such a concept. Technical communicators specifically must remain up-to-date on developments in PFL so that their writing will remain academically correct and socially aware. 

What Is Person-First Language?

Person-First Language relies on the basic idea that an individual’s personhood is deserving of the utmost respect and should be referred to before any additional descriptors such as a disability. For example, when referring to an individual who uses a wheelchair, it is inappropriate to say “the wheelchair-bound girl.” Instead, say “the girl who uses a wheelchair.” This shift in descriptor placement allows for the following:

  • Respectfully emphasizes the word “girl” first, rather than “wheelchair,” thus, highlighting the individual’s personhood, rather than disability
  • Intentionally uses the individual’s disability only as a way to further describe said individual, rather than allowing the disability to be the focal point of the description
  • Consciously avoids the word “bound,” as wheelchairs do not bind or limit individuals, but instead allow additional movement 

Furthermore, note that disabilities should only be highlighted in an individual’s description when relevant to the conversation’s context. Similar to how one would not mention the length or color of someone’s hair if not important to a story’s context, disabilities should be treated the same.

Why Is Person-First Language Important in Technical Communication?

In technical communication, adhering to the universal style guides and rules introduced by credible sources such as Purdue OWL and Modern Language Association is of the utmost importance. Not only is this adherence important so that a writer’s technique and vocabulary stay up to date on recent developments in the linguistic community, but also so that writers remain inclusive, respectful, and equitable in their writing. Credible sources like those listed previously endorse person-first language, along with other person-first language-adjacent concepts. 

In addition, failure to adhere to this type of language standard may be seen as offensive or under-educated, which is certainly not the goal of any technical communicator. For example, articles including descriptions of members of the disability community that do not follow the PFL guidelines may reflect poorly on the author’s vocabulary range and levels of social awareness. Thus, compliance with standards such as PFL set by educators within the communities described is essential to not only an author’s written piece but to the author’s reputation as well.

Additional Person-First Language Rules to Consider

Avoid Victimization

Another great example of what not to do when writing about individuals with disabilities is referring to said individuals as victims of their disability. For example, to mention a person with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) by calling them “an AIDS victim” is highly inappropriate and demeaning to the individual. Even in a person-first context, referring to a disability as suffering rather than an aspect of one’s life is considered offensive and disrespectful. An example of this mistake would be to refer to a person with AIDS as an “individual suffering from AIDS,” which is still demeaning.

Avoid Calling Disabilities “Abnormal”

The word “abnormal” is outdated. Instead, consider using the word “atypical.” This word is unbiased and up-to-date as the approved word to further describe people with disabilities. Atypical is simply defined as not representative of a type, group, or class.

Avoid Referring to Individuals Without Disabilities as “Healthy”

Alternatively, individuals without disabilities should be referred to as stated previously or simply as “non-disabled.” Other descriptors such as “able-bodied” and “normal” further a divide between people with disabilities compared to people without disabilities. Instead, terms like “non-disabled” are equally descriptive while also showing respect to the disability community.

Person-First Language: Final Thoughts

Like everyday conversation, the language used in technical communication is ever-evolving. Due to this fact, staying up-to-date on the best way to describe minority groups is imperative for skilled technical communicators. Updates on the changes within the technical communication field will continue to be highlighted and published on TCLoc’s Master’s blog, so be sure to check it out!

Additional Resources

The following list is composed of great additional resources for becoming better informed on the advancements of Person-First Language in the technical communication field.

Getting Started With Person-First Language by Michelle Foley, Cristina Santamaria Graff

Person-first and Identity-first Language Choices by Erin Hawley

How to Write Person First Language by Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council

About the Author

Ella Goodwin is currently a student at Louisiana Tech University studying Technical Writing. As she begins her second year with Louisiana Tech, she intends to continue learning about advancements in the technical communications field through her internship with the University of Strasbourg. For questions regarding this article, contact Ella on her Linkedin.

By definition, visual communication is the practice of graphically representing information to efficiently and effectively create or convey meaning. Technical communicators can enhance the usability and readability of their technical documents by utilizing visual elements. 

Visual communication can appear in various forms including illustrations, infographics, interactive modules, motion graphics, animations and other methods of data visualization. This article will discuss one of the most commonly used visual communication methods – infographics. 

What are infographics?

Infographics are a method for visually representing information through different data sets and images. Companies, organizations, and researchers use infographics to break down and explain dense, lengthy, or complex information. The use of infographics also eliminates large chunks of text and replaces it with visually appealing models.

Infographics are commonly used because they not only communicate and highlight the main ideas, but they also promote memorable associations between the facts and visual elements. These associations help increase the amount of information retained, while decreasing the amount of time the audience needs to invest in understanding the information.

Some infographics utilize bar graphs and line charts to display numerical data, while other infographics utilize diagrams, shapes, or a list format to communicate a process or relationship. 

Infographics’ role in technical communication

The constraints that technical communicators face often influence the method used for conveying information. For instance, technical communicators must consider time constraints such as the deliverable’s deadline and the amount of time that an audience can or will invest in your topic. Other factors that you must consider include your audience’s interest, familiarity, connotations, and environment in which the audience will receive the information. 

Infographics provide a useful medium for appealing to audiences who are unfamiliar or who may have negative associations with your topic. This visual communication method can also provide an overview or a warning on something that might be too lengthy or complex to explain within a technical document. For instance, the use of infographics within a chemistry lab can quickly remind individuals of how to or how not to use certain chemicals and equipment. 

In general, infographics help technical communicators engage, inform, persuade, and motivate audience members.

Developing an infographic 

All infographics should include graphical elements that develop the overall message through the conscious consideration of the theme, font, main points, colors, and layout.

Below are some questions that can help guide technical communicators during the design process.

  • Who is my target audience(s)?
  • How familiar is my target audience with my topic?
  • Do I clearly provide background information, context, and definitions as needed?
  • Does my design provide an overview of my topic and answer basic questions?
  • Does my design cater to presentation constraints (i.e. time)?
  • Are my visual elements (i.e. charts and graphs) easy to understand?

The less familiar an audience is on a given topic, the more information or context the technical communicator will need to provide. For unfamiliar audiences, remember to avoid jargon or highly technical terms as the audience is more likely to become confused and uninterested. 

Characteristics of a good infographic

Infographics are used across many fields to quickly inform one or more audiences. Since infographics will vary based on the objective and audience(s), consider using the checklist below when creating and revising your design.

  • Infographic has a clear purpose
  • Infographic has a clear audience(s)
  • Information is concise (only the key ideas or important facts are included)
  • Text is limited (only used to label, explain, or enhance visuals)
  • Sources are cited (as needed)
  • Visual elements are self-explanatory 
  • Layout includes an appropriate amount of white space (information is not crowded)
  • Theme (headers, colors, font type, and font size are consistent) 

It is important to remember that the graphics should communicate a majority of the facts while text is used to supplement the visuals. Remember to use colors, headers, text, and typography to emphasize the most significant points or details.

An infographic should only communicate essential information with an easy-to-understand overview of a topic.

Conclusion 

Infographics are very efficient because they support clear and quick communication. An infographic informs and helps the viewer to translate raw data into meaningful information. They grab an audience’s attention and effectively involve and engage the audience. As you consider your next project, decide if an infographic can help you more clearly communicate your ideas. 

Are you interested in technical communication? Don’t hesitate to have a look at the TCLoc Master’s Program to dive deeper into these topics!

Edited by Madison Brown.

Meet Madison, a student from Louisiana Tech University who is doing an internship in the TCLOC program at Strasbourg University.

Elham Mehrzadkia: Hello Madison and welcome to Strasbourg. I know that it’s the first time that you travel to France and to this beautiful city.

Madison Brown: Hello, yes. It is my first visit, and I love it.

EM: Can you please introduce yourself?

MB:My name is Madison Brown. I’m an undergraduate student at Louisiana Tech University located in Louisiana, United States. I started as an intern with the TCLoc program in December of 2021. I was offered this opportunity through my Academic Advisor at Louisiana Tech, because of my education and experience in technical writing. As an intern, I help edit and review the content produced on the TCLoc website, and I produce content such as interviews and blog posts.

About her professional  background

EM:Can you tell us more about your professional background?

MB:As a technical writer, I have had the opportunity to intern with an IT company in the summer. The company is known as General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), and I’ve interned with them for the past two summers. During those internships, I mainly created process documents and instructional material on how to solve different IT related issues. Over the last academic year, I have worked at Louisiana Tech University’s Center for Health and Medical Communication (CHMC). Through the center I work closely with community organizations to fulfill documentation needs such as developing surveys, conducting usability tests, and creating terminology style guides. Aside from those positions, I’m also currently pursuing a master’s alongside my undergraduate degree as I’m in my final year at Louisiana Tech.

About Madison and her internship in Tcloc

EM:Was it difficult to find an internship in TCLoc? How did you find it?

MB:I was offered this opportunity, the internship with the University of Strasbourg and, more specifically, the TCLoc program, through Louisiana Tech. At the time, I was not actively seeking out an internship but my professor, Dr. Kirk St. Amant, presented this opportunity to me and asked my thoughts on it. And I said yes, because I have a philosophy that when an opportunity presents itself, you say yes. You never know where an opportunity, particularly an unexpected one, will lead you in life.

EM:Do you have any professional experience in translation and localization?

MB: My experience is primarily in technical writing as it is my concentration for my English degree, and the field that I’m pursuing for my master’s. While I don’t have formal training within translation and localization, I have worked on projects in which translation and localization were prioritized during the drafting and editing stages of various documents. Since my experience is primarily in drafting and formatting documents, I have used the help of audience members and translators to better localize and translate documents as needed. As a technical writer, my main focus is on the usability of a document or graphic and how I can improve the user’s experience. My priorities during the writing process include clarifying the purpose of the document, adjusting the language to best suit a specific audience, defining unfamiliar concepts or terms, answering questions that may arise from audience members, formatting the document for consistency, and editing the document for errors or to make the content more concise. However, when writing for new or unfamiliar audiences, I think it is crucial to seek feedback from individuals within the target audience and even translators if more than one language is involved.

About the benefit of doing an internship in Tcloc

EM:What do you expect to gain from this internship?

MB: I’m hoping to expand on my current knowledge. Most of my experience, as I mentioned, is in usability and user experience. So, I don’t really have that localization perspective, but it has been very interesting to learn more about the field. I enjoy exploring how one can better produce, translate, and adapt materials for audiences of different cultures, languages,  and expectations. I think that’s absolutely fascinating and very important. Gathering an understanding in that field has been very eye-opening. I also hope to continue exploring the area of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I’ve been offered the opportunity to take an online SEO course through TCLoc and the university.  The course covered how to improve a website’s organic traffic and ranking on search engines. Ranking refers to where one’s website would appear on a page after completing a search. For instance, would the website appear on the first or second page of a Google search and would the website be located (or ranked) at the top, middle, or bottom of the page. Learning about SEO has been very, very different from what I’m used to, but also very interesting.

EM: What do you plan on doing with your professional experience ?

MB:In the immediate future, I plan on working for GDIT full-time as a technical writer while pursuing my master’s. Within my personal interests, I would like to continue my understanding, research, and familiarization with SEO, localization, and translation. Academically speaking, I would also like to continue to stay connected with the university even after my internship ends this July. After completing my master’s, I’d like to pursue a course or program with the University of Strasbourg. 

EM:The TCLoc team hopes you enjoy your time in Strasbourg, and we greatly appreciate your time. 

MB: Thank you!

If you’d like to know more about the TCLoc program and the opportunities it has to offer, click here.

Using Madcap Flare, technical writers benefit from a powerful authoring tool to optimize their documentation processes. It allows you to quickly create and publish user manuals, support portals and online help sites. Its single-source and topic-based architecture means you can easily produce content in different outputs, such as HTML5, PDF, and epub.

Unfortunately, when dealing with large amounts of information, some of us may have already experienced the tediousness of variant management — simple updates, minor changes — if they occur regularly, if not every day. To make your team’s lives easier, it is a good idea to automate processes associated with managing and importing content, converting external data, and reviewing tasks.

Streamlining Documentation Processes

Solutions are available to streamline your workflow and leverage Madcap Flare to simplify your routine work. Flare provides non-coders with core functions to manage redundant tasks. There is room for those who want to develop or integrate additional functionalities, too! In this article, we’ll look at some tips to help you save time, money and energy on your projects. In a nutshell, how can you add power to your documentation processes with Flare?

Macros — Eliminating Repetitive Tasks

Macros are a handy way to record and repeat a set of actions such as inserting a variable, typing text, or copying. This is one of the handiest tools for automating actions in Flare. It’s lightweight, adaptable, shareable, and reusable for a host of purposes. Macros are not exclusive to Flare, but their principle remains identical. You simply record a sequence of actions and then apply a shortcut to play it back.

Figure 1: Recording and Accessing a Macro

Massively Styling Tables

Now, we’ll discover a time-saving function related to styling tables. Imagine you have to edit a bundle of tables, but you don’t know exactly which topics they are located in. You may not even know how long it will take to edit each topic manually in order to change the style of the table. Here’s the trick. Instead of looking for the tables, check your table’s style sheet. By clicking the “Apply Style” box, you will apply the style not only to individual topics, but to entire folders as well. You can uncheck specific topics, or specify that you don’t want to override existing table styles. This enables you to batch process your project by applying a style globally, without having to select your topics individually.

Figure 2: Applying Styles

File Tag — Providing Content Insights

One underused feature in Flare, “File tag”, is particularly useful for tracking the status of your content and topics. Projects can include hundreds or thousands of topics. So close monitoring is crucial. By using file tags, you can get valuable insight into the status of your project. Simply define a set of criteria to identify and classify topics. These could include the author wrote the topic, or what the current status of the topic is (In Progress, Complete). By going to the Content Explorer and activating the File list view, you’ll be able to manage highly useful data, run a report, export the information selected as a CSV file for sorting, and get a clear overview of your project.

C:\Users\gaspa\AppData\Local\Temp\SNAGHTMLa01d20c.PNG
Figure 3: creating and accessing File Tag Set

Building Events — the Beginning of Code

When you publish a target, Flare allows you to define specific actions that can be activated before or after publication. These are called pre- and post-build events, respectively. Using simple lines of code like .bat scripts or MSDOS shell commands, you can define variables that relate to specific directories or files. Imagine you need to change the default directory of your publication and override the usual structure defined by Flare with a particular output directory. Your build event will do the job. 

Kaizen Plugin — a Swiss Army Knife for Technical Writers

If you’re not fond of code and scripting, several Flare plugins offer functions that will help you save hours of unnecessary work. As usual, it depends on the project, who you work with, and the nature of the information you are dealing with. That said, the one that stands out is the Kaizen plugin developed by Mattias Sanders. It’s an excellent asset with features such as MarkDown ImportTag ReplacerTopic SplitterGlossary Import, and many other options related to quality assurance, project management, and reviews. Last but not least, the Kaizen plugin is free! And if you are looking for a solution that is more tailored to your needs, have a look at Automator, a utility that helps you define your own plugin, interface, and interconnection with third party tools. 

Automation in Documentation — A Global Process

Beyond Madcap Flare automation, a prerequisite remains: is your workflow sufficiently structured to let you define complementary methodologies and learn new processes while juggling your daily tasks? In agile environments, whenever you are clogged by difficulties, it might be worth applying the principles of ergonomics: learnability, efficiency, memorability, low-error rate, and satisfaction. Grasping Flare’s core functions takes time. More specifically, it requires an awareness of the appropriate contexts to apply them. Hence, even though we have witnessed great leaps forward with respect to robust processes, when consulting with your IT team, it is wisest to approach automation wide-eyed and step-by-step.

Next Steps

If you enjoyed learning how to leverage Madcap Flare in your documentation processes, check out the other articles on the TCLoc blog — you’ll find lots more useful information on technical writing and localization.

The process of researching, choosing, defining, and updating key terms in all relevant languages to a company is called “terminology management”. Get started with terminology management with this guide!

Terminology is about managing knowledge

Many companies have recognized that established terminology is the key to facilitating efficient language management, consistent corporate language, and internal and external improvements to communication. However, it has yet to be accepted that professional terminology management also includes structuring and modeling knowledge.

In an increasingly global market, all content and product information need to be uniform and comply with international regulations to reach the customer. Many entities, such as marketing departments, technical editors, translators, or external service providers, create texts that require unambiguous terminology. Therefore, the goal is to standardize communication in as many departments and business processes as possible.

How can you create awareness about  curated terminology and work throughout all  departments and management levels of your company? 

Terminology Management: A Four-Step Journey

The process  varies with the structure and  size of your company, but four general phases can be recognized : 

  1. Planning
  2. Operative
  3. Administration
  4. Maintenance and Control 

Planning 

A company’s terminology management approach includes decisions on technical, human, and budget resources. It is essential  to document all decisions in a standardized, comprehensible way. The best method is to have a dedicated group of leaders, where everyone involved has awareness and common understanding of the project.

Furthermore, the question might arise : “Which tools and applications work best at managing terminology? ” The entire  process will be standardized based on this decision . Therefore, This is the most important question to be answered in acquiring a tool for the purpose of overarching terminology management.

Operative

In the Operative phase, it is essential to analyze, model, and prepare information in a standardized manner . Implementing guidelines for Data structure and entry categories are the most essential steps towards this goal . 

There are three important aspects in the concept-based data structure: 

  • The selection of information to be included in each entry;
  • The establishment of prohibited words;
  • The validity of each category and approval process 

Administration

The Administration phase represents the management of terminology tools. The terminology team is responsible for the term and data set management in these tools. This team records and manages the terminology of the source language, the preparation of terms, equivalents, and synonyms. 

Maintenance and Control

The Maintenance and Control phase aims to monitor  the correct functioning of the tools and erase any  incorrect terminology entries. Depending on the quantity  of target languages, managing multilingual terminology and coordinating with language experts require appropriate resources. In the case of localization project management, for instance,this phase also includes defining target language terms, applying the terminology in translation, and performing change management in the existing translations.

Essential Factors in Terminology Management 

All the previous steps could achieve particularly good results if adequate expertise is involved in the process. Inaccurate phraseology  might decrease the trust in the terminology team and their work. Therefore, it is critical  to request the input of the other relevant parties (the specialists) in the company. They will be able to assess the used terms and even elaborate on a new definition. In fact, they could play the role of an “examiner” and a “releaser.”  

Another essential factor for the terminology management journey is the metadata. All entries and items of information can  be used in a single-source-system, as long as the metadata is consistent, clear, and independent from the context. 

Ultimately, terminology work will develop to become increasingly more helpful to  machines and humans. Intelligent terminology suited to machine learning software can aid  the training of machine translation engines, and therefore improve the quality of the output. For editors and translators, this is a prospect  that may be challenging at first, but exciting in the long run. 

Are you interested in technical communication, localization or project management? Don’t hesitate to have a look at the TCLoc Master’s Program to dive deeper into these topics!


Technical writing within the Information Technology (IT) field is rapidly increasing. To build their credibility and IT experience, technical writers can acquire general and role specific IT certifications. This article discusses the different types of writing individuals may encounter, the importance of certifications, how to choose a certification, and some recommended certifications.

Technical Writers have countless career opportunities. For instance, writers can explore interests within different fields such as the medical, legal, educational, research, or information technology (IT) field. Additionally, writers can choose to specialize in one or more types of writing, some of which are listed in Chart 1.

Types of WritingExamples
TraditionalManuals, studies, and medical reports
End-user documentationProduct, service, or electronics documentation (often involves troubleshooting guides)
Media contentPress releases or catalogs

Chart 1. Types of Technical Writing 

Writers can become qualified in more than one type of writing and may choose to write in a variety of fields over their career. This article will focus on certifications that can assist technical writers in transitioning into the IT field. Note that technical writers within the IT field may exercise one or more types of writing depending on their role.

Why Invest in Certifications?

Regardless of the type or field of writing, certifications are a tool that help build credibility and knowledge in a specific area. Certifications also strengthen an individual’s CV or resume and improve the overall chances of a candidate being hired

Although the time and money required to gain certifications may be intimidating, pursuing a certification is an investment in one’s career and long-term goals. Most courses and programs allow participants to work at their own pace, thereby offering a flexible alternative to a bachelor’s or graduate degree. 

Choosing a Certification

The terms and titles for technical writers in the IT field vary depending on the job requirements and company: software technical writers, knowledge management analysts, content developers, and technical communication specialists are only some examples of the job titles technical writers can hold. Determining the appropriate certification to pursue will depend on numerous factors including an individual’s: 

  • preferred specialization – varies based on the position or promotion the individual is seeking
  • availability – varies based on course or program location and start or end date 
  • budget – varies based on the individual’s financial situation
  • accessibility – varies based on geographic location, internet connection, or computer access

Before choosing a certification, it is therefore important to research the desired IT role or technical writing position to ensure the course or program helps fulfill the job requirements. It can also be useful to research similar roles and responsibilities to learn which certifications or skills provide candidates with a competitive advantage. 

Recommended IT Certifications

Individuals seeking a career or employment in technical writing might be interested in earning a technical communication or technical writing certification. Many colleges, online and in-person, offer these certifications. One of the most well-known ones is offered by tekom, Europe’s largest association for technical communication. The eight-month online training (7 hours a week) was designed for working professionals and leads to the “Technical Communicator (tekom)” certificate, which is recognized internationally.

Technical writing certifications communicate one’s understanding of professional writing, but additional certifications are often needed for specific IT roles. Listed below are certifications that can further aid IT technical writers with job specific training and experience.

  • Google IT Support Professional Certificate – Coursera offers this online IT certificate for beginners seeking a foundation in customer service and support, software and hardware knowledge, and information on systems such as Linux.
  • ITIL 4 Foundation – The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) 4 Foundation certification introduces beginners to a set of practices for creating, delivering, and improving IT services and products. AXELOS also offers advanced ITIL certifications for individuals seeking leadership opportunities within service management.
  • Certified Scrum Master – Individuals seeking a position as a Scrum Master will embrace a people and process-oriented role with team management responsibilities. Scrum is a framework that helps guide teamwork, improve processes, and manage projects. 

Additional certifications are offered on training sites such as Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and Coursera. Google offers courses through Coursera to provide career professionals with industry qualifications in IT support, data analytics, project management, and user experience design. The prices and course length vary based on the chosen certification.

Final Thoughts

Before investing time and money on a certification, remember to conduct research on the qualifications needed for a specific role. Job listing platforms such as LinkedIn and Indeed list available positions and up to date expectations for technical writers within the IT field. A few minutes of research can help you explore new opportunities and can help you determine if the IT field is right for you as a technical writer.

If you want to learn more about technical writing, don’t forget to check out the TCLoc Master’s blog.

About the author

Madison Brown is currently studying Technical Writing at Louisiana Tech University. She is in her final year of her undergraduate degree and plans to pursue a career and continuing education in technical writing. To further the discussion of IT certifications for technical writers, use LinkedIn and contact Madison or interact with the blog post.

A subject matter expert is an essential resource for anyone wishing to translate specialized content. Even seasoned translators can find themselves in situations where the source text is too complex. No matter how much time they have spent studying the subject in depth, some words or phrases may still be ambiguous. This is especially the case for highly specialized translations, such as technical translations.

The Advantages of Collaborating with a Subject Matter Expert

When it comes to translating a technical text, the source text is often translated for a specialist audience. If the translator has less technical knowledge than the intended reader, the latter may experience some confusion. To avoid this, a subject matter expert can facilitate the translation by helping the non-specialist translator to avoid errors.

First, the expert is able to provide precise and technical vocabulary. As obvious as it may sound, using correct and appropriate terminology markedly increases the quality of the translation, which is something the target audience appreciates.

Beyond that, most subject areas each have their own particular signs, nomenclatures, symbols, and abbreviations that are essential for providing precise explanations. A misunderstanding of these conventions can cause misinterpretations: this is a translator’s worst nightmare. The subject matter expert can ensure the correct use of these symbols or abbreviations. Likewise, specific concepts should be translated by using their correct technical names, rather than by lengthy descriptions. This allows the translator to avoid having to paraphrase, which might strike readers as unprofessional. 

Another important aspect lies in the economics of translation projects. Getting a subject matter expert involved saves a lot of time and therefore money. Their knowledge can help the translator cut out hours of research and shortens delivery times, which is sure to be appreciated by everyone involved.

Another facet of this is that the subject matter expert can support the translation project by providing quick clarifications to both members of the team and clients. The team can avoid unnecessary back-and-forth, which is an additional stressor and a waste of valuable time. Subject matter experts can also settle any questions clients may have.

Last but not least, the subject matter expert can get involved in testing the translated content and can help with the final formatting.

What Types of Content are Involved?

As a translator, you quickly realize that technical translations are needed in a very wide range of applications. It’s not just user manuals that require technical expertise.

Many institutions use subject matter experts because they cannot afford even the slightest ambiguity in their translations. This is the case, for example, for the medical field, in particular the pharmaceutical world, where correct translations are crucial.

The construction field also has its share of highly technical vocabulary, as do fields like education and IT. These sectors often need to publish their content in several languages. An additional challenge for translators is continuous innovation, as not only do they need to know specialized terminology, they also need to keep up with new technologies and related developments. 

There is yet another area where involvement of a subject matter expert is essential, namely the area of ​​legal translation. Here the responsibilities are also very important, just like the volume of texts and the quantity of technical terms.

What are the Risks of Bad Translations?

Besides simple confusion, an incorrect translation can lead to serious risks in various fields. A sophisticated technology requires a precise technical translation adapted to the complexity of the subject. A subject matter expert brings their know-how to help the translator avoid finding themselves in one of the following situations:

  • In marketing, the material can lose its appeal and influence. It may fail to connect with – or worse, possibly even offend or annoy – the new target audience.
  • In the medical field, a patient can receive the wrong treatment, which can have potentially life-threatening consequences. 
  • Applications for patents or subsidies may fail, causing great losses to companies.
  • In the legal field, a bad translation can mean a lost court case.
  • In the industrial sector, poor communication can have serious consequences. Not only can it result in missed deadlines, it can also affect manufacturing, assembly, and handling. Misunderstanding a translation can also cause accidents. 

As you can see, expertise is of utmost importance in technical translation.

Successful Collaboration between Translators and Subject Matter Experts

Ensuring a successful collaboration between translator and subject matter expert is crucial. Indeed, if the collaboration is not effective, the delivered product can be sloppy. Here are some tips for both sides to help teamwork go smoothly.

Translators must be professional and prepared. This involves punctuality, flexibility, diplomacy and above all familiarization with the subject. The translator must make an effort to understand the subject and attempt to gather as much information about it as possible. Relevant questions for the subject matter expert should be prepared in advance.

For subject matter experts, it is important to give translators time and bear in mind that their task is difficult. What counts is not just the quality of the information, but also the manner in which it is provided: complex information must be communicated in an understandable and structured way.

Conclusion

The relationship between the translator and the subject matter expert is fundamental for a successful translation. We have seen the risks involved, the benefits of a good collaboration, and the importance of what each side brings to the equation. Now it’s up to you to ask yourself: is my approach as a writer, translator, or subject matter expert optimized?
If you want to deepen your knowledge in the field of technical writing and start a career, check out the TCLoc Master’s program to find out more about our online master’s degree.

Cognitive biases are a great tool for technical communicators as this knowledge can help improve both design usability and user experience. This blog will provide information on how designers can use cognitive biases to better appeal to their audience. 

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of cognitive biases, read this interview with Dr. Gustav Verhulsdonck — Cognitive Biases: An Extension of Usability and User Experience.

Using Cognitive Biases in Design 

In usability, cognitive biases offer designers a deeper understanding of digital users’ behaviors. Familiarity with cognitive biases can lead to better design practices by equipping creators with the knowledge needed to guide users in accomplishing digital tasks. Different biases can lead to different implementations in design. For instance, the American Psychological Association (APA)’s Dictionary of Psychology defines confirmation bias as “the tendency to seek information that confirms pre-existing thoughts, ideas, or expectations while avoiding contradicting information” (2020). Knowing that the average digital user has a confirmation bias, designers can adjust how information is presented. In relation to this bias, we consulted Dr. Quan Zhou, professor, department chair, and graduate program director at Metropolitan State University, and he suggested that designers could use the confirmation bias to present contradicting information side-by-side. Presenting alternative information in a side-by-side comparison encourages users to make informed decisions. 

Many cognitive biases exist, some more researched than others, but the challenge for designers is learning how to use this information. Read on to learn more on how to implement cognitive biases in design.

How to Incorporate Cognitive Biases in Design 

Knowing when and how to integrate cognitive biases is essential. Below are two phases with a series of steps that can help guide designers in understanding and using their audience’s biases in design. 

Preparation Phase:

Dr. Zhou shares that it is crucial to consider cognitive biases before a design is complete. Since biases offer a perspective or lens through which a designer can view their audience, waiting until after the digital media asset is released is not helpful in addressing user needs and expectations.

The preparation phase is an important stage for conducting research and brainstorming the types of design elements that should appear in your digital design. Conducting research helps you gain a better understanding of your audience and determine if cognitive biases can be addressed in your design. To consider the role of cognitive biases in your design, begin by:

  1. Researching your target audience 
  1. Researching cognitive biases 
  1. Determining which biases your audience is most likely to rely on
    • Note: Some designs may be restricted by formatting standards and unable to address cognitive biases. One example includes legal notices or clauses that must appear in the original documentation format. Designers must determine when to address and when not to address cognitive biases.
  1. Determine how the relevant biases can be incorporated into a design element
    • i.e. If the design is a website selling a product or service, consider allowing customers to share their experience on a feedback or comments section as the social proof bias explains that users are influenced by other people’s actions. 

       Implementation Phase:

After identifying the cognitive biases that are relevant to your design, you must incorporate them. To ensure that you have implemented effective designs, complete the following steps: 

  1. Create design elements based on the cognitive biases you have identified
    • Note: Designers should ensure that designs based on cognitive biases are created in the user’s best interest. Ethical concerns arise when a design practice does not consider the user’s needs and, instead, prioritizes company needs such as an increase in revenue. Since cognitive biases help designers to understand the psychology of users, it is important to integrate this knowledge in a manner that is ethical and benefits the user.
  1. Finalize your prototype 
  1. Conduct a usability test
  1. Determine which elements were effective and ineffective
  1. Revise your design accordingly 

Conducting a usability test is crucial to identifying which design elements are helpful and which are confusing for users. Additionally, users can express how well their expectations were met and they can provide suggestions for new design elements. Usability tests provide valuable feedback for revising your design. 

Design elements will vary based on the cognitive biases that are being addressed. Furthermore, some digital designs may not demonstrate a need to address cognitive biases, but the user research conducted in the preparation phase will help you learn about your audience and implement designs that guide them. 

Additional Resources 

Gathering user research can be time consuming and even difficult, but once complete, cognitive biases provide technical communicators with another tool for creating effective designs. In separate interviews with Dr. Verhulsdonck and Dr. Zhou, the professors recommended the following resources for technical communicators seeking information on cognitive biases. 

  • “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
  • “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information” by Daniel J. Levitin
  • “Consumer Psychology” by Catherine V. Jansson-Boyd
  • “Fogg Behavior Model” by Dr. BJ Fogg
  • “Creating Content That Influences People: Considering User Experience and Behavioral Design in Technical Communication” by Nadya Shalamova and Dr. Gustav Verhulsdonck
  • “100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People” by Susan Weinshenk

Cognitive biases offer technical communicators the opportunity to create more meaningful and intentional design practices. By incorporating human psychology into design, technical communicators can improve the usability of their digital design and improve user experience. 

To learn more about cognitive biases and their role in usability, don’t hesitate to read the interview with Dr. Gustav Verhulsdonck!

Acknowledgements

Much appreciation to Dr. Zhou and Dr. Verhulsdonck for their time and insight on cognitive biases. Thank you both for the encouragement and assistance.

About the Interviewer

Madison Brown is an intern in communication for the TCLoc Master at the  University of Strasbourg and an undergraduate at Louisiana Tech University. For any questions regarding this article, contact Madison on LinkedIn.