At Argos Multilingual, we believe in the Quality at Source concept and the “get it right the first time” approach. Quality translations come from good quality source content, and good quality source content starts with controlled authoring.
Controlled authoring is a systematic approach to writing that uses well-defined rules that help simplify structure, create consistency, and improve quality. It’s based on style guidelines, grammar rules, and approved vocabulary that can be used when authoring new content.
It helps prevent variations in style and tone, so that content written by one technical writer will read the same way as content written by another writer in the team. We’ve found that when our clients adopt this process, the result is vastly improved content as well as easier, faster, and more cost-effective translations.
Controlled authoring systems
Several industries have developed their own set of controlled language guidelines. Two of the most common examples are Simplified Technical English (developed by the aerospace industry) and Plain English (for the financial industry.)
- Simplified Technical English (STE)
STE is based on principles developed by the aerospace and defense industries to simplify aircraft maintenance documentation and eliminate safety risks connected with non-native mechanics working on aircraft around the world. Over time, other industries have adapted this authoring system to suit their own needs. The original STE standard follows 57 language rules that limit how content is created and help enforce controlled writing. The rules include vocabulary restrictions, with a core vocabulary of about 900 words, with each word normally having only one meaning to avoid ambiguity.
- Plain English
Developed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to help financial institutions provide clear and informative financial documentation for investors, Plain English aims to provide documentation in a clear and structured way that allows it to be easily understood by readers. It accomplishes this by removing superfluous words and replacing legal and financial jargon with shorter, more common words. This results in transparent financial documents that allow investors to make informed decisions.
How we can help
We partner with professional consultants who have trained technical authoring teams in a wide variety of industries. Depending on your industry and needs, we will introduce you to a consultant who will train your authors in controlled language, based on a system created together with your authoring team, and we can also advise and help implement compatible checker tools with chosen content management systems for seamless integration.
- Content management
Companies that introduce controlled authoring methods can maximize the benefits of modular content by capturing it in a central repository. A content management system (CMS) can then be used by all technical writers to reuse and recycle already created and published content, greatly reducing authoring time and cost while enforcing consistency across all documentation.
- Dictionary building
One of the most important aspects of any controlled authoring system is building a dictionary that contains all approved vocabulary available for use. To do this, we mine your legacy content for potential term candidates using automatic mining tools. Company specific terms (with definitions) are included in the dictionary, and all term candidates are then reviewed and approved by you.