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Style Guides for Translations

By Ryan J. Lebro, Translator, Powerling

A client style guide can help to improve quality of translation, increase efficiency, and save time and money. Why should you consider creating a style guide? What are some of the things that you should include in this style guide?

Client style guides should be customized for each language as they often address issues that translators will face in each target language.* Once the style guide is created, many of the client translation preferences can be, with the help of a project manager, integrated into the CAT tool that translators use to work on your projects.

Why should you create one?

  • Gives your translators a one-stop centralized reference point.
  • Avoids unneeded emails between translators, project managers, and your team.
  • Provides an important internal reference for your staff and future staff in the event of turnover.
  • Allows you to update your preferences and communicate this to translators.
  • Provides the ability to have a proofing and QA checklist specific to your content.

What should the guide have?

  • Corporate overview (short description of the company, its history, and goals).
  • Types of translations (i.e. legal, sales, press releases, e-commerce).
  • Client style preferences such as: longer or shorter phrases, faithfulness to the source, or freedom to depart a bit more from the source (such as a marketing transcreation project).
  • Glossary with translated terms, terms to avoid using, definitions and notes.
  • Grammar rules for the target language.
  • Information about measurements and sizing (and, if needed, size conversion charts).
  • Specifications based on the variety of English required (i.e. UK, US, CA, AU).
  • Typographical conventions, preferences, and rules in target language.


A client style guide can be a helpful tool for you, your language service provider, and translators working on your projects. It is definitely worth spending a little bit of time upfront to help boost the quality and efficiency of your projects!


*For the purpose of this article, some examples are for a style guide for translations towards English.



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