How to Measure the Quality of a Transcreation Project

In business, the stakes are often high. Many times, you have only one chance to nail important business objectives, such as entering a new market, and failure simply cannot happen. This is often the case with projects that require transcreation. For some business objectives, a literal or more straight forward translation can get the job done. When it can’t, that is where transcreation comes in. 

One of the main challenges of transcreation is measuring quality. Doing so can be more difficult than when handling a more typical translation. Transcreation requires a level of creativity that is difficult to measure. Addressing quality while the transcreation process is actually happening is imperative. While quality standards will vary from client to client, there are ways to work towards general quality standards during the transcreation process.

The Transcreation Brief

Before a transcreation project even begins, steps towards quality assurance must be taken. The transcreator can get a strong start on the project with a solid brief that provides context on the purpose of the content they will be transcreating. For example, a marketing campaign will have different transcreation requirements than a movie would. Understanding the purpose is key, as transcreation projects don’t require a word for word translation, but instead aim to adapt a piece of content to have a similar meaning while conveying the same feeling in another language. 

While the brief should encourage flexibility and creativity, it must give the transcreator clear guidance on what direction to take. Who will be reading the final text? What was the original purpose of the text? Why does it require transcreation? These are all important questions that require answering in the brief. A brief can also share brand values, how the client hopes their brand to be perceived in the target location, and what the desired approach to break into a new market is. 

The Timeline

Transcreation is not a project that should be rushed as it can involve a high level of research and creativity to master. Providing a transcreator with a clear timeline without expecting rushed work can help ensure they manage their time in a way that leads to a quality final project. 

The Back Translation Process

The back translation process involves giving the translated version of the text to a separate independent translator who has not seen the original text. They then translate the new text back into the original language. Their results will help ensure clients that the meaning of the source text was not literally lost in translation. 

Back translation is a quality assurance step that can be useful in certain scenarios such as when content requires a high level of control because semantic errors can have consequences. Or when a client doesn’t speak or read the target language, back translation can allow them to check the accuracy of the translation by themselves.

How to Measure Success

While the goal is to achieve quality during the transcreation process, there are post-publishing measurements that can check if the transcreator accomplished the intended effects and purpose. Pre-publishing, there are tools that can be used to measure readability. Post-publishing measurements require more collaboration though and can involve human intervention. Changes to text can sometimes be made post-publishing, so using the following methods to test quality can provide value.

  • Seeking an objective corroboration that examines sales and site traffic data. 
  • Employing a third party editor or reviewer. 
  • Hosting market surveys and focus groups.
  • Undertaking blind A/B testing. 

At the end of the day, the ultimate “quality test” can be uncovered through the feedback the client receives or the bottom line results of the project. If feedback is positive and the expected results arise, the client can have confidence that the transcreation project was successful.


Ubiquitous Automation: Quality Assurance Tools

It’s true that, at least for now, no computerized tool can replace the linguistic knowledge inside a reviewer’s mind; AI solutions have difficulties reading tone, register or the nuances of context and how it affects meaning. However, they can assist translators and editors in different ways. For example, there is software that detects errors that the human eye may fail to catch. This is why these tools have become necessary in order to comply with quality standards.

Automated quality assurance software is part of the wide range of technology solutions that addresses different needs within the localization industry. Basically, they allow reviewers to instantly perform quality checks of bilingual files or translation memories, supporting a variety of different formats.

Linguistic Checks

Quality assurance tools scan bilingual files in search of linguistic and formatting errors. This can be specifically helpful to perform a final check on a very large project that includes a considerable amount of files and/or text to review. Furthermore, they are also a useful resource to spot and remedy inconsistencies among files translated or edited by different teams of vendors.

Most of the tools perform the following checks:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Number or tag mismatches
  • Missing translations
  • Formatting
  • Repeated words
  • Double spaces or punctuation marks
  • Untranslatables
  • Inconsistencies: identical source segments with different target text; identical translations for different source segments

Extra Help

Auto quality assurance tools also allow reviewers to check terminology issues. Users can import glossaries or term bases into the software, so that it can find any key term mismatch. On the other hand, quality assurance tools always update and redefine their settings to reduce the amount of false positives on their evaluations. False positives are correct segments wrongly flagged as errors. In this regard, quality assurance applications include features that allow the user to create rules in order to reduce the number of false positives in a report.  

One Feature for Every Need

Different quality assurance tools offer the same core function, but vary in other aspects. For example, some are specifically intended to integrate with other CAT tools (e.g., LexiQA’s special integration with Transifex or Memsource), while others only work as an independent program. There are other quality assurance tools that are part of a more comprehensive solution, such as ContentQuo, a quality management platform that can integrate into translation management systems (TMS). Besides that, if considering opting for a quality assurance tool, price is also a factor. Some applications are free, like Okapi Framework CheckMate, or paid, like XBench or Verifika.

Another salient factor to consider is the internal editor of some of the applications. While all the tools generate reports of the errors found, only some offer the possibility to correct those mistakes directly from the report, like Verifika does. This refrains the reviewer from having to be switching in between applications: detecting the error in one working environment, applying the correction in another. In any event, reports are a very necessary function of these tools. They can be used as a required deliverable, since they ensure that a quality control has been performed and that most of the evitable errors have been avoided.

Latest Posts


Does Translation Quality Mean Different Things to Different People?

Quality is subjective. The old adage is true, one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Chances are, no two people will agree on the quality of every single meal, movie, piece of clothing, or electronic device they encounter. The translation industry is no different. When it comes to creating quality translations, all clients have varying standards. These standards may even differ from what the translator considers a quality translation to look like. This begs the question, does translation quality mean different things to different people?

Standards Vary

There is an expected set of quality standards that top translators aim to meet, such as ensuring that the final text of a translation project reflects the meaning of the source text, delivers the intended effect, and meets all project parameters. Avoiding any errors and accommodating cultural differences are important as well. That being said, clients may have their own idea of what quality means in regards to translations. 

In a sense, quality is accomplished when the client is satisfied with the work. Clients who work in more sensitive fields, such as the medical industry where a mistranslation can lead to fatal misunderstandings, may expect the final text to be perfect. Some clients may feel that a below par translation can damage their brand. Other clients may simply require a translation that is decent enough to convey the overall meaning of the source text. For example, if the text won’t be customer facing or serves internal purposes. They just want to get the gist of it. Because of the time and resources required to perfect translated text, some clients may have lower standards than others. Before commencing a project, it can be helpful to define quality standards with the client. 

Machine Translation and Human Intervention

For most linguists the idea of quality means that the translation has no errors in meaning, is free of typos and conveys a message very accurately while keeping in mind the culture of the target language. Some translators feel it is inconceivable that clients may be content with a complete machine translation output. When asked to perform post-editing and improve the text quality, many translators find it very difficult to just correct serious mistakes and avoid a complete rewrite of the translation.

While machine translation is a very helpful tool that can save both time and money, human intervention can help avoid mistakes in a translation project and can make capturing the meaning of the source text in a natural and intuitive way easier. However, if perfection is not the goal, a client may find that MT and MT+ post-editing processes meet their needs. 

The Takeaway

Unfortunately, there are no official metrics or benchmarks that translators can follow to achieve quality, as a one-size-fits-all approach to translations can’t universally meet the needs, purposes, and budgets of every client a translator will encounter. The goal of service providers should be to ensure the client is satisfied and to be mindful of their expectations of quality. If the expectations of qualities are clear at the beginning of the project and ultimately met, then both parties should be satisfied with the service provided.

Latest Posts


A Quality Cycle: About Back Translation and Reconciliation Services

Assuring quality in all its aspects —semantics, grammar, stylistic and cultural accuracy, optimal format, correct terminology— is one of the pillars of localization workflows. In this regard, quality is not ensured by applying one single action. On the contrary, many factors contribute to quality, such as linguist selection, efficient use of tools and different processes of quality control.

There are certain textual materials that are highly sensitive and have a major impact on the life of people related to them. This is the case, for instance, of pharmaceutical and clinical protocols, clinical research, financial or medical reports. When working with these documents, clients and/or Language Service Providers (LSPs) can opt for adding another quality assurance step, called back translation. This step can be useful in the following scenarios:

  • The content needs rigorous control, since any semantic error can have practical consequences.
  • Sometimes clients don’t speak nor read in the target language and want to check the accuracy of the translation by themselves.
  • When reviewing transcreated text, clients want to assess how the linguistic team translated a slogan or other marketing copy, and what meaning it conveys in the target language.

The three-column text

The aim of back translation is to have another instance of control of the target text’s quality; mostly in terms of terminology and semantic accuracy. It consists of performing another translation, but this time of the target text into the source text language.

For example, if we translated a clinical protocol from English into Spanish, we would apply another process of translation, but from the Spanish target into English again. The resulting new English text will never be an outbound translation. The new English translation  is not intended for publishing nor distribution. The outcome of a back translation process is only for internal use in the localization process. The linguistic team performs it only for quality assurance purposes.

Moreover, we can point out the following characteristics for back translation outcomes:

  • They are literal.
  • They will never result in a version exactly the same as the original source; it helps to identify discrepancies or errors in the translation.
  • A different linguist not involved in the original translation workflow works on it. Sometimes, they don’t even have access to the first source text (blind translation). 

Let’s reconcile

After the above-mentioned step, the same linguist or a different one will read and compare the source text against this new outcome. If no critical difference in meaning or mistranslations are flagged, the translation is considered accurate, and the process finishes. On the other hand, if the reviewer spots discrepancies, he or she will mark them up for further review, in which the team fixes the translation. Sometimes, they fill reports with the errors found and corrected in this step.


The process of back translation is very thorough and implies an exhausting revision of the translation that goes beyond editing or proofreading. However, it demands a well-planned and wide deadline, and the use of several professionals. Because of this, LSPs and/or clients should consider if back translation is appropriate for a certain project considering time, resources and budget. If not, there may be other ways of ensuring quality too, through one of the multiple means the localization industry has come to develop.


What is Quality in the Translation Industry?

Quality. One little word that can mean so much. We strive for quality in every area of our lives. From award winning entertainment to organic food ingredients, who doesn’t prefer things to be top notch? We’re first taught how to produce quality work in school. Receiving a good grade on a paper or exam is a pretty clear indicator of a job well done. After school though, things can get a bit murky. 

Once we enter the workforce, the expectations of what quality work means can vary greatly. In the translation industry, quality work is the key to not only keeping clients happy but to producing effectively translated texts. 

Quality in the Final Translation

Accuracy is of course an important component of creating a quality translation, but accuracy alone does not guarantee quality. The translator must ensure that the final text properly reflects the meaning of the source text, has the same intended effect, and accomplishes all project parameters. 

During the translation process, there are three types of errors worth keeping an extra sharp eye on. Errors of meaning which encompass using incorrect terms or forgetting to add or remove a word. Spelling and grammar errors can add unnecessary confusion. And last but not least, errors of compliance that may relate to a brand’s specific style guide or language fluency.

Another important aspect of a quality translation is whether or not the text meets cultural standards as well as linguistic ones. A literal translation can literally get lost in translation if the translator does not account for cultural differences such as pop culture references, humor, politics, and values. 

Quality in the Process

While quality is subjective, there are certain procedures and processes designed to help linguists produce quality translations. For example, per ISO 17100, it’s required that at least two linguists work on the translation. One translates and the second reviews the translation. For certain projects, it can be beneficial to work with three linguists so that there is a final proofreader ensuring quality. These procedures help keep translation teams on the path to quality. Terra Translations is certified in ISO 17100 which provides the framework for our team to certify quality management procedures.

Similarly, following respected professional standards, like ISO 9001:2015, is helpful for ensuring translation quality. ISO (International Organization for Standardization) develops standards for a variety of projects and translation companies can follow their set standards in order to enact a quality control method. The ISO standards are typically updated every five years, which helps certified firms continue to produce high quality work.

Latest Posts


ISO Certified Translation Services: A Commitment to Quality

Working with a professional translation service can open up a new world. For truly global access, you need to work with a translation service committed to providing you with the highest quality assistance. Your business deserves accurate and timely service. But how do you know, before spending valuable time and money, if a vendor will provide that for you?

The Benefits of ISO 9001

If you choose to work with ISO certified translation services, you’ll know you’re working with a service provider committed to client satisfaction and constant improvement. ISO 9001 is an in-demand quality management system. So in demand, that 70% of our customers consider it very important that we’re certified in ISO 9001:2015. We aim for high quality standards and a constant pursuit of excellence. Which is why our team worked tirelessly to become an ISO certified translation service. Not to mention the fact that ISO 9001 maintains international standards designed with input from 159 national standard institutes across a variety of industries.

Why This Certification Matters

The ISO 9001:2015 standard guides organizations in the design of a process based Quality Management System (QMS). The set of requirements that make up this certification improves the development of tools for process control, organizational performance evaluation, and continuous improvement.

There are eight principles that makeup ISO 9001’s strict quality management principles. These principles allow companies to create valuable products for their customers.

1.  Satisfying your customer’s quality requirements.
2.  Helping leaders create consistency and unify their team to serve their purpose.
3.  Keeping employees engaged and productive through clear communication, respect, and recognizing their achievements.
4.  Defining a process that allows a business to run smoothly and communicating how employees fit into that system.
5.  Encouraging leaders and employees to continuously look for areas they can improve upon and give them tools that allow them to innovate.
6.  Learning how to use data to make decisions that can be relied on.
7.  Nurturing strong relationships with the companies that help a business run smoothly, such as suppliers.
8.  Implementing a successful system approach that aids in achieving your goals in an efficient and organized way.

Our Experience with ISO 9001

Terra Translations has seen first hand how beneficial offering ISO certified translations can be. We found that process based management was essential to growing our organization. It generates a virtuous circle of continuous improvement through planning and verifying.

Being ISO 9001:2015 certified allows our team to benefit from the system’s tools by providing high quality service to our customers. As our mission is to provide high quality translation and localization services, this quality management certification has served us well since adopting it in 2017.

A Commitment to Progress

Choosing to work with a brand that adopts ISO certified translation services standards ensures your business will evolve. ISO standards are generally updated every five years, with 75% of their world network required to update their processes. This goal of progress is one that Terra Translations embraces. We make continuous improvement to our work system and methodology that maximize our efficiency in every area of our business. We are also certified by IRAM, which represents the Argentine Republic in ISO. Working alongside the government, industry, consumers, and technology, IRAM studies technical standards and makes quality recommendations. We credit our commitment to improvement to our entire team, but especially to our quality assurance managers who are responsible for meeting our strict quality standards.