Poll: Do your clients usually provide you with style guides?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 18:10
SITE STAFF
Jun 27, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do your clients usually provide you with style guides?".

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 04:10
Turkish to English
+ ...
No Jun 27, 2014

No, almost never. The last time I received one, there were rules about layout and formatting that were totally inapplicable to the legal document I was working on, so I queried this with the client and they told me just to ignore the style guide!

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
No Jun 27, 2014

Unless "British English" counts

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Jun 27, 2014

I'm usually their "style guide" when it comes to English

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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:10
Member (2006)
German to English
No Jun 27, 2014

no

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 02:10
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Usually, no! Jun 27, 2014

But as I said before (a very similar poll) some clients do (European Institutions and a Portuguese media group)...

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:10
Russian to English
+ ...
How can a client provide you with any style guidelines? Jun 27, 2014

You have to translate the text in the same style in which it was written, unless you are doing an adaptation of the text.

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:10
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Two meanings of the term 'style' Jun 27, 2014

Lilian, in this case they're talking about punctuation, capitalization, spelling rules, etc., as in "The University of Chicago Manual of Style." It's confusing!

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:10
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Not usually Jun 27, 2014

Most leave it up to me, but I always ask if I am proofreading academic papers.

One client referred to the APA style guide, and I use that for their jobs as a rule.

Another specified the Chicago Manual of Style and offered to pay for a year's online subscription! I negotiated, as I prefer the hard copy, but was very pleased.

A couple of agencies have given me small folders with instructions about hyphenating and line breaks, spaces between figures and units or per-cent signs (or no spaces), and minor details like that. Luckily they all agree with my defaults, but some of the instructions about typing them in Word were useful.

In fact I like to know in advance if the client has any preferences, as the rules in English are not carved in stone... And everyone is happier if I can get it right first time!

Edited to add that I have just been sent one today

Not big, just a couple of pages of advice, largely on how they want the reference list tidied up...

[Edited at 2014-06-27 16:28 GMT]


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ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:10
Member
German to English
+ ...
Several Jun 27, 2014

Several have sent me their style guide but I am afraid that it is a black mark against them. I think one was 14 pages long. Plain ridiculous. They all want different things and I haven't got time to work with different style guides.

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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:10
Member
English to French
Sometimes Jun 27, 2014

I have learned quite a lot with (usually thick) style guides.

Philippe


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 20:10
German to English
+ ...
It seems unusual because... Jun 27, 2014

... the translator is supposed to be the expert in the this matter. Occasionally, however, an end client may have in-house policies, and the translation is part of an in-house publication or other document. I think I've run across it two or three times in 25 years.

I once worked for a client that wanted to see "25 November 2014" as opposed to the more common "November 25, 2014". Both are deemed correct in Canada, but the latter is more usual. This was a style-guide matter for this entity.


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Barbara Carrara  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:10
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Yes, sometimes Jun 28, 2014

When you work for publishers (directly or through an agency), then each of them have their own style guides that translators have to stick to. I've translated or part-translated a few exhibition catalogues and a couple of coffee table books, and all assignments invariably came with a style guide attached to them.

That also goes for other types of customers. I also work as a transcreator (or transwriter) for magazines and web content, and I almost always get if not a whole style manual, at least some lists of dos and don'ts.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 11:10
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Yes, sometimes Jun 28, 2014

Generally, they are a summary of key points regarding punctuation, capitalization, spelling rules, etc. etc. based on the Chicago Manual of Style and are quite standard.

I look through them and find only the points which differ from my own style which, incidentally, pretty much resembles the above tome. If some instructions are wonky, I'll tell the customer just that and advise them that they'll get a wonky translation if I stick to their instructions. They get the message and let me press ahead with the translation, which basically obviates the need for a style guide in the first place.

So, in a lot of cases, giving me a style guide is a lesson in futility.


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Oliver Lawrence  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:10
Partial member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
Style guides apply when there is a choice Jul 2, 2014

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

... the translator is supposed to be the expert in the this matter.


The point is that there are some areas of language where more than one approach can be correct (e.g. whether to use -ize or -ise spelling in British English). In those cases, the client may have a preference. It is not a matter of right and wrong or of questioning the translator's expertise.


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