Localization style guides for digital content

Localization style guides for digital content

Localization is rapidly becoming one of the sectors with the highest volumes of translation. Among the many technological, communicative, textual, and pragmatic challenges that localizers face, adapting their writing style to the demands of screen reading is an essential skill that needs to be acquired. Usability studies have shown that reading on screen is normally 25% slower than on paper and, in general, users do not "read" but scan through screen texts until they find what they are looking for: simply what interests them. The interactive nature of screen texts demands a specific writing style in order to reproduce the texts with the highest levels of usability, a variable directly related to the success of any digital product. Localizers are directly responsible for text production, and therefore, a sound knowledge of writing styles for on-screen reading is part of what has been called "professional localization competence".
Additionally, in a process such as localization where most processes are normally performed by teams, the lack of a consistent style is considered a common issue in localized products. Style guides play an essential role in establishing a more coherent and cohesive style. They have been defined in localization as an aid to "create documents appropriate for the end-user, for meeting company and country standards, and for maintaining geographic and cultural suitability". A review of all style guides specifically developed for digital texts and/or localization shows four distinct categories: (1) style guides for specific localization types, such as those that apply to web localization software, (2) language-specific style guides, (3) usability style guides, and (4) company and project-specific style guides. Moreover, styles guides can be subdivided between those that deal with digital style in general, and those that focus specifically on interlinguistic localization processes.

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