Multilingual and multichannel communications include many aspects that may not need to be taken into account when communicating in Finnish, Swedish and English. Simply publishing multilingual communication on a website or video (e.g. on YouTube) is not enough; providing multichannel communications is also important, because multilingual information must be promoted through several channels in order to reach its target audience.
Check the existing material
When planning multilingual communications, start by finding out about existing materials. For example, on InfoFinland.fi you will find links to information in various languages. Consider whether to translate materials that have already been published or to focus mainly on information or language versions that do not exist. For example, you could use links to multilingual materials produced by other authorities.
Remember that many multilingual brochures, websites and applications are produced across Finland. Note that checking the information contained in the materials will take time for both the author of the guide and the authorities reviewing the contents. It is also a good idea to prepare in advance for updating the material and keeping it up to date. For example, consider in advance how to update the material if the project that produced the material ends.
Ordering and publishing multilingual translations involve many steps
It would be best to produce material in a foreign language rather than have it translated. However, this is often not possible. It is also worth checking the recommendations for using plain language, clear standard language and good official language.
There are several steps involved in multilingual communication, ordering translations and disseminating information which you should be aware of before ordering translations.
One of the key issues in communication in different languages is the quality of translations. While the quality is significantly influenced by the original text, the steps in ordering the translation are also important. When writing multilingual newsletters or press releases, it is important to check that the text in the language of origin is clear and to the point, the structure is simple, and the content is as unambiguous as possible.
Ensure smooth co-operation with translators, a translation unit or a translation company, by providing a clear request for translation or for quotation.
Many authorities and municipalities may have no previous experience of having communications translated into languages other than Swedish and English. The many stages and details of multilingual communication may come as a surprise. Multilingual communications are not just about getting translations done: publishing content in languages other than Finnish, Swedish or English requires expertise and understanding of customer needs and perspectives.
Before ordering translations, it's a good idea to consider the need to update your content and edit it so that it does not expire easily. When editing text, it makes sense to removing information that you know is changing quickly. These may include contact information, opening hours, instructions that keep changing, and numbers.
Together with the multilingual InfoFinland.fi team, we have compiled these tips for those ordering and publishing translations.
Tips for ordering translations
- Make sure your text is clear and easy to understand. If necessary, clarify the content produced in the original language.
- Let the translator know who the text is intended for.
- Ask the translator to follow the heading levels and formatting (H1, H2, H3, body text). This allows you to compare content with the original text.
- Ask the translator to include a Finnish title in the document. This way you’ll know which document it is.
- Check the completed translation – even when you do not know the target language.
- Are the headers really headers?
- Is the number of sentences and paragraphs correct?
- Are the figures in the same places as in the original?
- In non-Latin languages, ask the translator to return translations also in PDF format to make sure the font hasn’t changed.
- If you create a translation for a website in a format such as PDF, use the organisation’s logo or other visual elements in the file, and add a date to allow readers to check that the data is up to date and reliable. The Finnish title also helps those sharing links and working with customers.
- You should publish multilingual communications as web page content rather than a PDF file.
- If you publish the content as a PDF, ask the translator for a PDF providing permission for formatting so that you can publish the translation ‘as is’.
- Check accessibility in multilingual communication.
- Link additional information primarily to English content if the linked information is unavailable in the language to which you are having it translated.
Sharing multilingual information
Multilingual information can be shared online on the Finnish, Swedish and English pages if the website does not offer other languages. However, it is worth noting that multilingual information is not optimal for search engines if the language version is published on the Finnish, Swedish or English pages.
In addition, right-to-left languages or special characters may not be copied to the site correctly if the online publishing platform does not support the language. Check that the text copied to the online publishing system is displayed as in the translation and in the correct order.
You can improve the flow of information to target groups through social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as through associations and key contacts.
Tips for making multilingual videos for a blog post (in Finnish)