You likely landed on this page because you have a technical document to translate into Spanish and need some advice on how best to do it.

Technical translation, often overlooked in terms of ROI, can be a game-changer for your business. Despite its time-consuming and challenging nature, it plays a crucial role in supporting end users and fostering customer loyalty. If you’re considering translating your technical content into Spanish, you’re holding a powerful tool for growth. 

This article will guide you through the successful execution of a technical translation project and explain why Spanish is a fundamental key to your international expansion.

But First, Why Translate into Spanish?

While there’s no exact number, it’s estimated that three-quarters of the world’s population cannot speak or read English. If your content is exclusively in English, your message reaches less than 25% of the market. Even those clients who speak some English often prefer their native language. So, if you want to compete in a global marketplace, your organization needs to demonstrate proficiency in more than just one language.

As of 2024, there are believed to be nearly 500 million native speakers of Spanish—second only to Mandarin Chinese. Spanish is also the second most commonly used language on the internet, after English. But do not be deceived by its second-place ranking: Spanish has roughly 10% of the internet share that English does. In other words, there is still a first-mover advantage in some markets and industries when it comes to the Spanish language.

When you choose to translate into Spanish, you can strengthen your brand, affirm customer loyalty, and increase sales, but there are some factors we recommend that you keep in mind:

It Is Not Enough to “Translate into Spanish”

Providing content in your customers’ local language, whether online, in manuals, or in sales collateral, can significantly enhance customer service. However, it’s crucial to remember that no two varieties of Spanish are exactly alike. For instance, users in Argentina and Mexico use different words and expressions. Therefore, for your Spanish translations, it’s imperative to take into account the specific culture of your target audience.

An HVAC technician in Buenos Aires and their colleague in Mexico City may use the same parts with equal skill, but they may refer to them by different names. While working on technical documentation translation, a qualified technical translator will not only be a subject matter expert but will also do the terminology research needed to ensure that your technical manual is understood in the countries you are targeting.

The More Material You Translate, The Better

If you are a marketing strategist, you already know that it takes more than one piece of content to connect with your consumers, build credibility, and introduce your solutions. So, if you are looking to nurture a relationship with a specific Spanish-speaking audience, you need to consider each step of the process. 

Think about the entire customer journey when choosing what to translate into Spanish, from top-of-funnel content that searchers will land on to sales enablement documents used to close a deal. 

Once you have signed those deals, you will have happier customers (and get more word-of-mouth referrals) when you translate help docs, manuals, and other customer-facing content into Spanish. If you leave clients to do all the work to try and understand you, you will face lower conversion rates, more churn, and a decrease in customer loyalty.

Two Ways to Translate into Spanish

There is more than one approach to translating content into Spanish, and we strongly encourage you to consider the full customer experience before making a decision.

Machine Translation

translate into spanish mtFor basic tasks or large volumes of user-generated content such as reviews, you might consider using services like Google Translate to translate source content to Spanish. We think of this as “fit-for-purpose” translation—well-suited for low-visibility or high-volume content where the reader needs to know the gist of a text.

But while Google often relatively accurately translates basic text, especially into Spanish, sensitive and complex technical documentation is a different story. 

Machine translation engines are not always trained on technical documentation like engineering manuals, which means that they may not “understand” industry-specific usage. If the meaning of the original content is lost in translation, it can put your audience at risk. Likewise, your business can also be at risk of legal action or regulatory fines if your technical documentation is unusable.

If you are wondering how—even in 2024—you cannot rely on AI or MT tools to translate into Spanish, you are not alone. While there has been tremendous progress in translation technologies, most MT tools still do not account for context, regional differences in vocabulary, or cultural differences. 

Human Translation 

translate into spanish human translation

One key advantage of human translation is how humans interpret context. In most cases, context is implicit rather than explicit. An expert human translator who lives and works in the target-language country is better positioned to understand cultural norms, idioms, and, most importantly, the overall purpose of the content.

Similarly, human translators also have subject-matter expertise, which means they employ industry-specific terminology in the translated text. And even more importantly, they are able to stop and ask questions if there are ambiguities or errors in the source rather than going full speed ahead.

If a source-language document needs to be refined before you translate it into Spanish, a human translator can provide guidance. For instance, sometimes, we handle manuals that were compiled using chunks of text and graphics from different documents. In this case, we must sort out the overlaps to simplify for the end user before we even start working on the translation project. 

Depending on the type of content you are translating and how established your translation memory is, you may be able to use post-edited machine translation to translate into Spanish. For example, if you have a repetitive document that you issue each year with minor updates, it can be machine-translated using a previous year’s version, followed by careful editing by a human for errors, style and accuracy.

Translation Quality Assurance Process

Getting the best possible results from the translation and localization process starts by providing your language services provider with as much reference material as possible. You may want to clarify the use of symbols, such as ™ or ®, for example, and branded terms, introduce your preferred tone of voice, and share glossaries and reference materials. 

At Art One, we follow the same quality assurance process each time we translate into Spanish:

  • Content Scrutiny

Your document undergoes a mandatory English quality check before translation. This process cleans formatting and identifies mistakes or ambiguities so that they do not repeat during the translation. The team also identifies graphic elements that they will need to translate into Spanish.

  • Translation

Now that we have clean source text, we can hand it over to a translator. When we translate into Spanish, we always assign the translation task to a native Spanish speaker who lives and works in the country of your target audience and is a subject matter expert.

  • Editing

When the first draft comes out of translation, one of our experienced editors will counter-check the document to assess its quality. They compare the translation to the source to ensure its accuracy and the use of correct terminology and identify any opportunities for improvement in terms of style or clarity.

  • Proofing

Our proofreader will review the translated text to correct minor spelling errors or typos, ensure it adheres to any style guides in use, and make further recommendations as needed.

  • Finalizing

The translation will now be sent back to the translator to be finalized. Once finalized, the translation memory and glossary will be updated for future use. In the meantime, our desktop publishing specialists will ensure that formatting is handled correctly and that all elements of the document—such as graphics, screenshots, or charts—are rendered in Spanish.

Read more about Art One’s QA Procedures in translation.

What Types of Technical Documentation to Translate into Spanish

When your brand launches in a new market, you will have the most success if you can provide customers, end users, technicians, local business partners, and even government officials with translated documentation.

Technical translation goes far beyond product manuals, user interfaces, and catalogues. Perhaps you have received a request for proposal (RFP) from a local partner and need us to translate the questions into English and then translate your replies back into Spanish. 

Maybe you would like to supplement your translated help files and technical manuals with Spanish-language videos by creating subtitles. Or perhaps you simply want to translate a press release announcing your product’s debut in a new country.

Wherever you are in the go-to-market process, Art One Translations can support your Spanish-language translation needs. Our approach to Spanish translation combines linguistic expertise, subject matter knowledge, decades of experience, and strategic use of translation technology. 

Learn more about Spanish translation and how reaching an extra 60M people will impact your business.

Contact us to discuss your translation project, or upload your files to request a quote.

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