ULG's Language Services Blog

Four Steps for Creating a Translation Glossary


A translation glossary is an index of specific terminology with approved translations in all target languages that is used by a company and their clients. Glossaries aid translators in ensuring each time a defined term appears in any language, it is used correctly and consistently.

Typically, a glossary is created in collaboration between a Language Service Provider (LSP) and the client company. Glossaries are often reviewed by the quality assurance team at an LSP before a new project. In addition to technical terms, a glossary may also include names, trademark terms, or acronyms.

Glossaries are particularly useful in highly technical fields like medical device manufacturing or legal, and help promote the clarity and consistency required in such industries. In the global marketplace, translation glossaries are a high-value tool with uses that extend beyond content development.


Though there are many perks of utilizing a translation glossary, these three are the most important.

  • Cost savings (immediate and long-term). By having a glossary of terms that appear frequently, translators can standardize parts of the process and eliminate unnecessary expenses from the outset. Consistent translations also mean you’ll be able to rely more on translation memory reuse in the future. Ultimately, this tool will enable you to keep translation costs low both now and later.
  • Time efficiency. When linguists immediately understand how you want specific terms translated, the translation process speeds up immensely. Glossaries also help eliminate time consuming (and costly) rework. A clear and consistent glossary ensures that translators can avoid confusion and work considerably faster.
  • Preserve Brand Identity. Consistent translation of your product names and key terms means your customers can always identify your messaging. Referring to your products inconsistently in various settings can create confusion among your audience. Imagine if users in other countries couldn’t identify the key terms that define your brand because a translator mistakenly rendered one term several different ways. A good glossary permits consistent translation, and consistent translation makes for a better experience for you, the linguists and your customers. For companies that hope to go or have already gone global, a translation glossary is crucial to helping maintain brand identity in varying markets.


Ultimately, utilizing a strong glossary enables you to save money, save time, and stay true to your brand.


Creating a glossary doesn’t have to be burdensome. Below are four easy steps you and your LSP can take to prepare a translation glossary.

1. Choose

Choose a list of technical terms for your organization that you want to include in your glossary. Terms range from product names to abbreviations to common words referenced when talking about your company and / or products. In addition to technical terms, a glossary may also include names, trademark terms, or acronyms.

2. Review

After the LSP identifies the terms, the glossary is returned to you for review so you can choose which terms to include and which to toss. You may also add missing terms. Bear in mind, though, that glossaries are meant to be a translation aid, so you don’t want to add an overwhelming amount of content. Consider only including what is directly related your company and products.

3. Translate

Following the review, terms go through the traditional translation process performed by an in-country linguist or team of linguists. While it’s a good idea to provide context around your source terms, the most valuable thing you can do you throughout the translation process is choose highly qualified translators who have experience in your industry. If a translator is not familiar with your industry or does not have top notch qualifications and experience, customers may miss your message entirely.

4. Distribute

Once the glossary is complete, identify who in your organization can help standardize your source content and distribute accordingly. Typically, companies want to provide all content authors, translation project requestors, and marketing and branding specialists with glossaries.

By developing a translation glossary with these four simple steps, you are empowering your company to experience immediate and long-term benefits. Your glossary will assist in cost savings, time efficiency, and the preservation of your brand identity.