Category: Learning Zone

Why you need to localize Even if your audience only speaks English

Why you need to localize Even if your audience only speaks English

There are many companies who cater solely to their own language. That is, they only provide products and services in their native tongue, whether that be English, Spanish, French, Chinese, or any of the arguably thousands of living languages spoken around the world. So, if an organization caters to customers who predominantly speak only one language, is there even a need to localize? In one word, yes.

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KPIs for the Translation Business: A Brief Intro

KPIs for the Translation Business: A Brief Intro

How to Choose Your KPIs Wisely

Different companies will have different KPIs based on their individual goals. Generally speaking, translation volume, revenue growth, or reputation could be considered as valid goals for a translation business.

If you want to measure and grow your translation volume, you’ll need KPIs related to sales and/or client acquisition. For example:

  • Monthly sales/new customers

  • Monthly new leads/prospects

  • Customer retention rate

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VideoLocalize: A Case Study in Innovation

VideoLocalize: A Case Study in Innovation

VideoLocalize is a video localization platform that was developed by the Boffin Language Group to address a well-known challenge in the area of video localization. In its current shape, VideoLocalize integrates a synchronization tool with voice-talent and project management capabilities, allowing the end-to-end management of video localization projects.  It wasn’t conceived of in this way, however, and the journey that the Boffin Language Group undertook under the leadership of its President, George Zhao, is a case study in innovation.

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The Essential Guide To Localizing Advertising Campaigns

The Essential Guide To Localizing Advertising Campaigns

Remember how much energy you invested in creating your original creative content?

Well, you’ll need the same amount of care and devotion to localize your advertising materials to other markets around the world.

That’s right. Entering new markets is a huge step to take, and if you don’t want to risk the image and integrity of your brand, you should organize and plan everything before starting the actual work.

Take plenty of time to review the relevance of the campaign and products in the target market, to plan all the steps, to decide the degree of customization, and to identify human and capital requirements. Invest in this stage of the process; you will benefit from it later on.


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How to be a Superhero Vendor Manager?

How to be a Superhero Vendor Manager?

Imagine you receive a new translation request, into your company’s local language. Who would you assign this project to? Write the name of the translator that you would contact first.

That’s the task we all received during my vendor management training over 10 years ago in Rome. There were 15 participants together with me, sitting at a huge U-shaped table. Each of us wrote down one name and then we read it out loud one after another to the whole group. It was easy, we did it quickly and we were all happy we did a good job.

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Finding Your Unique Voice in Translations

Finding Your Unique Voice in Translations

Written by Pieter Beens in The Open Mic

It is a simple rule of thumb for communicating: if you want to convey your message, you should find the right tone of voice. Have you ever imagined a grumpy voice-over for a nappies brand or a tired voice-over selling city trips? Chances are great that you would shake your head in disbelief and never decide to buy those nappies or book that city trip again.
Tone of voice is a powerful tool for selling products and services, but finding your unique voice in translations also comes with some considerations worth sharing.

The power of a unique voice

Many translation and marketing agencies alike claim that they offer a full range of translators, offering the best possible quality and a voice for every message, and sometimes translators are likely to follow that line. They claim that they are able to translate texts for every audience, no matter the underlying product or service. That sounds great, but mostly it is something other than the whole truth. In reality they are able to translate many texts and documents easily, making sure they offer quality translations that do not hurt anyone. At the same time, most of their translations do not distinguish themselves from other translators in tone or style. So whether they are working for Shell or for Apple (just to mention two entirely different companies), they still use the same vocabulary, constructions, syntax and expressions. Although that goes unnoticed in many cases, it can ultimately make companies’ marketing and product texts too much alike. In the worst case, the end clients will no longer distinguish companies from each other, except by their products and services.
That is why a unique tone of voice is important. Only by having their own tone of voice can translators distinguish themselves from other translators and help companies differ from each other. In other words: a unique voice is so powerful that it can help companies build their own identity and stand out in a market that is overly crowded.

Different tones of voice

Every person is unique. This uniqueness shapes our tone of voice. How we talk and express ourselves is influenced by our mood, character and experiences. Through our lives we gather a vocabulary of hundreds of thousands words, but the way in which they are combined, is what makes our voices different from others. Our natural tone of voice might, for instance, be:

  • Warm
  • Formal
  • Passionate
  • Concise
  • Inspirational
  • Punchy

Tone of Voice for translators

It can be possible to have a tone that is a combination of both or to practice different tones for different audiences. Our voice, however, reflects our personality, which make it difficult to separate the two. It is part of who we are.
While I am quite verbose in my daily life, I can write inspirationally and commercially as well. On the other hand, I will never be like my English to Russian translating colleague Dmitry Kornhukov, who boasts a vocabulary of powerful and sparkling words, using terms like ‘awesome’ in almost every sentence. If I were to try this, family and clients would shake their heads, claiming that it is a tone of voice that does not suit me. And because it does not fit naturally, it will be difficult to master as well.

Mastering a second voice is as important and difficult as mastering a second language. At the same time it is very easy to use your natural tone of voice in translations. Using a voice that is close to you enables you to speed up your work and leads to a natural flow. However, translating for a client who demands a tone of voice that is not part of your ‘voice toolkit’, will leave you with a job that seems endless, requiring you to rethink every sentence and leading to lots of uncertainty because it is difficult to crawl into a skin that doesn’t fit well.

Using your tone of voice for your customer’s success

So it can be difficult to work for clients whose style guides and brand books dictate a certain tone of voice to be used. I remember about five years ago when I was pitching to write for a magazine. They sent me a small job to give it a try, but it took me two hours to think about the tone of voice: it was different from my natural writing habits and led me to think about every single word. In the end it turned out that I was not the right person for the job.

The same happened recently when I wrote some text for clients of a local marketing agency. While the agency was used to make cosy and inspirational websites I was unable to find a tone of voice that fit the designs. After three successful jobs we mutually agreed to end the relationship because it was too difficult to fulfil the assignments easily. While stumbling upon your own limitations is not necessarily a failure, it can have disastrous results for companies that are trying to distinguish themselves in how they sell their products and services.

However, using your personal tone of voice can work the other way around as well. Because it is so unique, it can be one of the most powerful tools in your whole marketing toolkit. Your tone of voice can be an important part of your personal branding and make companies look specifically for you. In the past, marketing departments of three of the five biggest smartphone brands chose me as their preferred supplier for Dutch translations (I failed for the fourth because our tones of voice were too different to be successful). In such a position you can put your stamp on marketing campaigns and at the same time improve a company’s branding for even further success.

If a company is only starting with translations in your language pair you can establish mutual success by building the tone of voice from the ground up. Being the first translator to translate apps, documents and websites for a certain brand enables you to define the tone and style that is to be used for years. If companies grow, they will attract a user base that do not know their brands other than in your tone of voice. If that is a successful combination, you will not only help the company to reap the fruits, but you will as well by having an return client that trusts you as their primary source of truth in your language pair.

Tips for exploiting your unique tone of voice

So, using your personal tone of voice can lead to business success. Awareness of your own voice and how you are using it is the first step in ensuring a great relationship with your client. Here are a few tips to help you further.

Find a voice that reflects your personality

This is not the most difficult part of the story. However, you need to reflect on your personality. Are you using a vocabulary and style that shows who you are and what you do? Or do you use a language that is only slightly related to your deepest personality? If so, you might find yourself struggling with translation jobs for certain clients because you cannot seem to find the right tone of voice.
Apart from a unique, personal tone of voice you might consider some other styles. For some people this is easier than for others. For instance introverted characters cannot easily get used to the style of extroverted personalities. However, it can still be worth a try to master some other styles because that opens new perspectives. Nevertheless, stay away from voices that you cannot master easily.

Reflect on your goals

Business goals help steer you in the right direction. However, your goals should align with your possibilities. Reflect on goals you have, like working for a certain company or audience, and realize whether they do (or do not) fit your style. Then change your goals or set out to master the right tone of voice. If you choose the latter, be patient. As a baby you did not learn to speak within a few weeks, and you will not master a tone or voice within a month.

Be aware of audience and locales

Every company and brand has its own audience. Be aware of it, as well as of local languages and expressions. Within each tone of voice there are slight variations. You might, for instance, switch between a formal and informal tone of voice or between a calm and humorous style as they do not necessarily exclude each other. However, make sure that you address each audience the right way, so they identify with a brand. In the end you are serving a company as a translator, not as yourself.

Exploit your unique tone of voice

At first hearing, many people tend to express themselves in the same way. There are, however, nuances that can make a difference. You therefore have a genuinely unique tone of voice that can make the difference for your business and that of your client. It can help you to adopt the right jargon or even slang, so that you can make your client successful. In the end, companies looking for success have their own thoughts on what they need to reach that goal. Being yourself is the key to that, and using your voice the way you are used to is the best way to exploit your personality in translations.


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What do You Want to See?

What do You Want to See?


Thanks for visiting our blog!

Please share with us what do you want to see in our blog during the next period and what are the topics that interest you?


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Hot Keys and Key Combinations for Translators

Hot Keys and Key Combinations for Translators

Written by Olesya Zaytseva in The Open Mic.

For any translator, a computer is a pipeline for making their living. The keyboard is our working tool. Studying the keyboard carefully is a key to workflow efficiency.

After two decades of consistent typing, I finally decided to keep my operations with the mouse to an absolute minimum. While I do not have any signs of the tunnel syndrome currently, I feel I should care better about my wrists.

My aim was to make close friends with my keyboard—a totally regular device—and learn key shortcuts for most of the commands I use.

Below, you’ll find a list of hotkeys and keyboard combinations worth learning complemented with a downloadable table for reference and editing. Obviously, for each of us the list will differ depending on favourite devices, operational systems, programmes, and combinations you already know. Key combinations for Windows (Windows 7 to be exact) are followed by Mac variants in brackets.

The following links will provide you with full lists of keyword combinations for Windows 7Windows 10 and macOS. Keep studying them and choose new combinations to master regularly. Attach small sticky notes to the outlines of your computer’s screen with 3 or 4 shortcuts you want to master next. Then, leave it all to your fingers.

1. Keyboard

Start with studying ALL the keys including the <Windows> key, the <Menu> context key (to the left of the right <Ctrl>, with a cursor and window icon) and the right <Alt> key (AltGr).

(On keyboards made for Macs, you generally use the <Option> key instead of <Alt> and <Command> instead of the Windows logo key.)

With the help of these keys, you can:

Win: open the Start menu
Win + D (Command-F3): Go to Desktop
Win + Е (Command-F): File Explorer or Finder
Win + L (Command-Option-Power): Block the workstation
Win + M (Command-Option-H-M): Minimize all windows
Win + R: Run (command line)
Win + F (Command-F): Search
Win + T: Choose the first element in the Task Panel (press it one more time to move to the next item)
Win + Right/Left arrow: Split the screen

Here you’ll find full lists of keyword combinations for Windows 7Windows 10 and Mac. Keep choosing new combinations to master.

Pay attention to the command line in Windows. Here are some programs and tools you can quickly launch with the help of the command line (<Win + R>):

calc: Run Calculator
control: Run Control Panel
excel: Run MS Excel
mspaint: Run Microsoft Paint
notepad: Run Notepad
taskmgr: Run Task Manager
shutdown/s: Turn off the computer in 30 seconds
shutdown/h: Hibernate the computer
shutdown/r: Restart the computer
winword: Run MS Word

You won’t need to type a command every time as the system will memorize it and autosuggest options.

Tip: When you enter a URL into the command line, the system opens it after launching the browser.

1. Windows / Mac programs and tools

You don’t need to ignore your mouse. Try to combine it with the keyboard for generous time savings.

Standard system combinations for Windows and Mac:

Ctrl + A (Command-A): Select all items
Сtrl + С (Command-C): Copy the selected item
Сtrl + F (Command-F): Search
Ctrl + N: New document
Ctrl + O (Command-O): File selection window
Ctrl + P (Command-P): Print
Ctrl + S (Command-S): Save the document
Сtrl + V (Command-V): Paste the selected item
Ctrl + W (Command-W): Close the document
Сtrl + Х (Command-X): Cut the selected item
Сtrl + Z: Undo an action

More useful key combinations:


Shift: Block CD-ROM autorun (press after inserting the CD)
Shift+F10: Show the content menu for the selected item
Alt+PrtSc: Make a screenshot of an active window
Alt+F4: Close the active item (or exit the active program)
Ctrl+F4: Close the active document


Command-Tab: Switch to the next most recently used app among your open apps
Shift-Command-N: Create a new folder in the Finder
Shift-Command-4: Make a screen shot of an active window
Command-Comma (,): Open preferences for the front app

Keyword combinations for the Windows Task Panel:

Shift + click on the icon in the task panel: Open a new application window
Shift + right click: Show the application menu
Ctrl + click on the group of icons: Unfold all their windows

Tip: If after opening the Explorer you press a letter key, the system highlights the file (or the folder) with the name starting with that letter.

2. Text Editors

These application are among the basic tools for translators. By continuing to study hotkeys and key combinations for handling text documents we increase our efficiency.

The <F8> in Windows is one handy key:

  • pressed twice, it selects the word around (or touching) the cursor
  • pressed three times it selects the whole sentence
  • pressed four times it selects the whole paragraph
  • pressed five times, it selects the whole document.

Position the cursor where you wish to begin, press <F8> and then use the cursors to extend the selection. To escape the selecting mode, press the <Esc> key.

Be sure to learn key combinations for m- and n-dashes, soft hyphen, non-breaking hyphen and non-breaking space.

Additional key combinations for moving around the text:

Shift + F5: Move to the last change
Ctrl + Alt + Z: Switch between the last four edits
Ctrl + Left/Right arrow (Option-Left/Right arrow): Move by the words
Ctrl + Up/Down arrow: Move by paragraphs or vertical scroll
Ctrl + Page Up/Page Down (Fn-Up/Down arrow): Scroll up or down one page
Home / End (Command-Left/Right arrow): Go to the start or the end of a line
The same with the Shift key pressed for Windows and Mac: Text selection

And a number of useful combinations:

Shift + F3: Change the case of letters (the first letter, then the word)
Ctrl + Alt + I (Option-Command-P): Preview window / Page setup
Ctrl + Alt + period: Ellipsis
Ctrl + F12 (Option-Command-I): Select the document to open
Ctrl + left mouse key: Select the sentence
F7 (Shift-Command-Colon): Spellcheck and grammar check
Ctrl + F1 (Option-Command-T): Hide the toolbar (after you learn everything)

Make and print a table with special symbols to have them at hand. For Windows, you can include:
Copyright: Alt + Ctrl + C
Registered trade mark: Alt + Ctrl + R
Trade mark: Alt + Ctrl + T

Tip: To find the key combinations you need, open the list of special symbols in Microsoft Word. Select the symbol you need and look at the key combination in the lower right part of the window.

3. Browsers

This is another important application type for translators, with their own key combinations and ‘secrets’.

Find and study key combinations for your preferred browser. Use <Ctrl + Tab> to switch between the open tabs. To move to a tab you need, use <Ctrl+window number> (Command-1 to Command-9 for Macs).

Tip. The address bar works also as a search window. Type in the searched term and press <Enter>: you’ll see the results of your default search engine. To move the cursor to the address bar, use <Ctrl + L> (Command-L).

Windows + Chrome

Browser tabs:
Ctrl + N: New window
Ctrl + T: New tab
Ctrl + W: Close current tab
Ctrl + Shift + T: Reopen the last tab or window you closed
Browser pages:
Home: To the top of the page
End: To the bottom of the page
Ctrl + N: Bookmark the current page
Ctrl + H: History
Ctrl + J: Downloads

Mac + Safari

Browser tabs
Command-T: Open new tab
Command-W: Close Tab
Shift-Command-: Show all tabs
Shift-Command-T: Reopen the last tab or window you closed
Command – Shift – ]/[: Navigate between multiple tabs
Browser pages
Command-Up: To the top of the page
Command-Down: To the bottom of the page
Control-Command-1: Show or hide the Bookmarks sidebar
Command-Shift-I: Open new message with the URL of a page
Command-Y: Open/close the History window

4. CAT Tools

They were made for efficiency but we can always increase it a bit further. Some key combinations are the same as with operating systems. Others are application unique.


Tab: Switch between Source and Target
F2: Edit the Source
F7: Check spelling
Ctrl + Shift + A: Select all segments
Ctrl + K: Concordance
Ctrl + P: Look up terms
Ctrl + T: Split segment

An extensive list of key combinations for memoQ.

Additional shortcuts and customising shortcuts for memoQ.


F3: Concordance
F4: Exit
F12: Save as
Ctrl + K: Concordance
Alt + F2: Edit the Source
Alt + Ins: Populate from the Source
Alt + Del: Clear Target

An extensive list of key combinations for Trados.

Additional key combinations and customising shortcuts for Trados.

5. AutoHotkey

AutoHotkey is a free, open-source scripting language for Windows that allows users to easily create small to complex scripts for all kinds of tasks.

AutoHotkey can automate any desktop task:

  • Replace text (turning :*:kr:: into Kind regards)
  • Run programmes
  • Open files
  • Easily define hotkeys for the mouse and the keyboard

In Windows 7, you can use it to switch between the working languages with the help of <Win + space> combination.

  1. Download the application:
  2. Install AutoHotkey.
  3. Right-click on your desktop.
  4. Find New in the menu.
  5. Click AutoHotkey Script inside the New menu.
  6. Give the script a new name. It must end with an .ahk extension. For example: MyScript.ahk
  7. Find the newly created file on your desktop and right-click it.
  8. Click Edit Script.
  9. A window should have popped up, probably Notepad.
  10. Add #Space::PostMessage, 0x50, 2, 0,, A ; 0x50 is WM_INPUTLANGCHANGEREQUEST
  11. Run AutoHotkey.

* * *

I’ve created an editable Word file with main key combinations for Windows mentioned above: follow the link to get main hotkeys for translators. Feel free to download it and use for learning hotkeys. You can replace the hotkeys you know well with some new combinations to master.


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