3 Considerations for Translating Content

Dec 14, 2022

Translating content is an important task for organisations that want to reach a global audience. By using a CMS, such as Kontent.ai, users can easily create and manage their content across multiple channels. However, translating this content into different languages can be a challenge.

Aside from the technical challenge, there are three things which need consideration:

  • Whether to use automated translation or professional services (or both!)
  • Domain-specific translation 
  • Ensuring enough context in translation

It's easy to assume that you can simply translate a piece of text and that your content is instantly ready for the international market, but these three points need good consideration before passing anything to the development team on the project. 

As well as these points, you should also consider website design when translating CMS content. If the website uses a fixed-width layout and labels, the translated content may not fit properly and could cause the design to break. In this case, it may be necessary to adjust the design of the website to accommodate the translated content. Some Germanic and Scandinavian languages for example can have much longer words which don't wrap well compared to English.

Let's look at the three main points though:

Automation vs. Professional Services

The first thought is to just use an automated service. Google offer a translation API, and it's a good starting point. You can pass your content to these services which will perform machine translation and give you the translated content back almost instantly. Some services also offer enhanced AI to improve improving the quality of the translation.  

Another option is to use a professional translation service. These services employ trained translators who can accurately translate the content into the desired language. This can be a more expensive option, but it can provide higher-quality translations and may be necessary for important or sensitive content.

If you can combine automation and professional services, you get the best of both worlds and can provide a workflow to content editors, allowing them to control the translation process from a single place.  

Domain-specific Translation

Domain-specific translation is a specialized field that requires knowledge and expertise in a particular subject area. By using a translator who is familiar with the domain in question, businesses and organizations can ensure that their content is accurately and effectively translated for their intended audience.

For example, a translator who specializes in medical translation would have the necessary knowledge and expertise to accurately translate medical documents or clinical trial protocols. In this case, the translator would need to be familiar with the specialized vocabulary and concepts used in the medical field, as well as the language conventions used in medical writing.

Domain-specific translation can be particularly important for content that is intended for a specialized audience, such as medical professionals or legal experts. In these cases, the accuracy and precision of the translation are critical, as even small errors or misunderstandings can have significant consequences.

Atomic vs. Context-Aware Translation

Atomic translation is a term that is sometimes used to refer to the translation of individual words or phrases without taking into account the larger context in which they are used. This approach to translation can be useful in situations such as translating technical terms or specialized vocabulary.

Atomic translation caters for a single item as part of the wider content structure.

However, atomic translation can also be problematic, especially when translating content that contains idioms, colloquialisms, or other language features that cannot be translated literally. In these cases, the individual words may be translated accurately, but the overall meaning of the content may be lost or distorted, like bad subtitles in a movie.

In contrast, context-aware translation takes into account the larger context of the content and uses this to provide a more accurate and meaningful translation. This approach is often preferred for translating content that is intended for a general audience, as it tends to produce translations that are easier to understand.

Context-aware translation caters for all relevant items in content structure.

Atomic translation can be a useful tool in certain situations, but it is important to consider the limitations of this approach and to use context-aware translation when appropriate.

The Importance of Context

Context is important in content translation because it provides the necessary information for the translator to understand the intended meaning of the content and to accurately translate it into the target language. Without the proper context, a translator may not fully understand the content and may produce a translation that is incorrect or unclear.

In addition to providing information about the intended meaning of the content, context can also help the translator to understand the intended audience and the tone of the content. This can be particularly important for marketing and advertising content, where the tone and language used can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of the message.

Overall, context is an essential part of the content translation process and provides the necessary information for the translator to produce an accurate and effective translation.


In conclusion, translating content is a useful way to reach a global audience, but it is important to carefully consider the methods and tools used to ensure accurate and properly formatted translations. Using an automated service can provide a quick and easy solution, but professional translation services may be necessary for important or sensitive content. To make the most of any professional services, you should plan to provide as much context as possible about the content.