A user manual is a technical document that assists the user of a product or software when installing or using it.
Preparation of a user manual
A user manual is usually prepared by a technical writer. User manuals must contain information necessary for the consumer regarding the correct, purposeful and economical use of the product and correct assembly, installation, connection, maintenance or storage and disposal, if necessary.
What to do if a product does not have a user manual in local language?
The producer is responsible for having the manual translated into a local language. The user manual must be translated into local language at least to an extent specified and be unambiguous. If a producer has not provided a manual in local language for the goods, the seller of the product must do it.
Legal basis for translating a user manual
Pursuant to the Consumer Protection Act, goods which are technically complex, contain hazardous substances or require special skills when using them shall be accompanied by an instruction manual from the producer. Examples of such products include household appliances (e.g. dishwashers, cookers), phones, computers, furniture, etc. The consumer should receive both the localised and original manuals.
The Consumer Protection Board exercises supervision over the user manuals of the products sold. If a product does not have a manual, the consumer is entitled to request it. If the consumer does not receive it, they have the right to return the product and request a refund.
Important points to consider in preparing or translating a user manual.
Communicate your expectations: how fast you need the translation and if you also require design. Also agree on the price of the translation. The most accurate way to determine your budget is to use source text-based calculation.
Collaborate with the translator and provide feedback. For this purpose, appoint a contact person in your company who is familiar with the terminology of the field. You could also send previous translations and user manuals you were happy with to the translator.
Using a uniform terminology in user manuals is very important. It would also be good if your company has its own term base. If you do not have one yet, you could consider creating one or asking a translation agency to prepare one for you.
Professional translation agencies use translation software for translating user manuals. Translation software is not machine translation (e.g. Google Translate), but rather a translator’s assistant. It makes re-ordering manuals more cost-effective, as old translations are stored in a translation memory.
Consider whether the text needs to be adapted to the target group – for example, should miles be converted into kilometres and dollars into euros. Perhaps the manual includes text that does not require translation at all?
Translating a user manual into different languages helps a company to market and sell its products more effectively. So it makes sense to invest in quality. Ideally, you should work with translators who are experts in your required field and are experienced. A user manual translation should definitely be reviewed by an editor.
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