What To Do With User Manual In Foreign Language

Consumer products, from vehicles to software, come with instructions. Ideally, user manuals should be provided in the language of importing nations. Still, some sellers, such as Chinese phone manufacturers, do not bother to have their documents translated. 

Without an understandable manual at hand, it may be impossible to use the product correctly. Here is what you can do to translate user manuals effectively. Try these five tips.



Look Online

When a product is shipped abroad, responsible sellers ensure it includes proper instructions in the local language. If the product is sold internationally, you may be able to find an identical document in your language online. In some cases, sellers send wrong manuals by mistake. 

The first and easiest step is to google your product and check if the instructions may be downloaded from the internet. Another possible location is user forums. If you do not have the right manuals, other buyers may have faced the same problem. Hence, they may have already worked out a solution and shared it with the community.


Contact the Manufacturer

As a customer, you have the right to demand a readable manual from the seller or manufacturer. If the document exists, this approach could save a lot of time. They may offer to send you the manual electronically or by mail. In most cases, this should solve the problem immediately.


Use Free Tools

The most popular translation apps, such as Google Translate, may get the job done. Do not expect accuracy, as machine translation is still imperfect. Humanity is yet to see a digital aid that would produce impeccable translations. Languages that are no Latin-based are the most difficult for a machine to handle.

Some apps let you take photos of the pages, while others will work with typed text. If you only have a printed brochure, scan it (or take a picture with your phone) and use software to convert the image to pdf. For instance, Acrobat is powerful enough to recognize text in a PDF or image in dozens of languages. Next, open the scanned manual in the program and use the Recognize Text tab. It is summoned with the Tools button.

Paid translation add-ons and programs, especially those created for professionals, could deliver higher accuracy. You can find updated ratings and overviews of such software on specialized sites. If it is vital to follow the instructions to the letter, paying makes sense. 


Use Built-in Tools

Microsoft Word comes with its own translation tool. Thus, if all you have is a .doc or .docx file, the task is simple. Accuracy, however, may still be flawed. It is up to you to determine the level of accuracy that meets your needs. 

A simple manual for an electric toothbrush, for example, will hardly require the highest translation quality. Documents describing safety precautions, on the other hand, are too important to translate online.


Hire a Professional

Although professional services may not be cheap, they should be used when accuracy is paramount. For instance, vital documents like Material Safety Datasheets should only be translated by experts. Depending on the products, you may decide that a rough translation is sufficient. If the manual is for a product used by staff, most employers will opt for expert services.

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