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17/12/2018 - Annual reports

Five tips for successfully translating and proofreading annual reports

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Storytelling is all about generating knowledge, ‘filling in the gaps’ and enabling facts to be interpreted. This also applies when you are communicating to your investors, customers and employees. Annual reports are a form of corporate storytelling – offering you that rare opportunity to shape your company’s narrative and present facts and figures the way you want.

Finishing an annual report on time requires a lot of time and effort. Careful planning is therefore vital. You and your team must give your all to ensure the final publication looks good, is internally coherent and contains the correct figures. Here are five tips to ensure that your next annual report and translations thereof will be especially good.


Remember these five tips when translating: 


1.  Maximise translation quality

Your annual report is your company’s ‘calling card’ and producing it is a costly, time-consuming business. The quality of language and content must be up to the mark when it is published. You can ensure the quality of the annual report when choosing and evaluating the best language experts.


Make sure that your translation agency is certified and has quality credentialsISO 17100 is the standard for translation services. It sets out various rules and process steps and requires service providers to comply with them. It is also a big bonus if your chosen translation agency implements a quality management system and is ISO 9001-certified. This will make it easier when you start by weighing things up in your search for a professional translation services provider.

It is always a good idea to brief your translators well prior to the start of the project. Make sure that they have the relevant glossaries, terminology databases and reference texts to hand in good time. This will allow them to convey the desired message and your corporate language correctly in the translation. The goal is to meet your quality expectations, and save you from having to field unnecessary queries.


2.  Ensure information security

Most of the facts and figures in your annual report are highly sensitive up to publication. Under no circumstances should market-sensitive information reach the public domain beforehand.

ISO/IEC 27001 ensures an information security management system is in place. The aim is to protect your company from potential data loss and hacker attacks.

We recommend translators have a closed, auditable IT environment at their disposal. When it comes to strictly confidential material, translating and proofreading on-site – in your offices – is the best way to ensuring information is secure.

When selecting a translation service provider, make sure that the confidentiality and security of your data is guaranteed.


3.  Stick to deadlines

To ensure that print deadlines are not missed because of the translation, it is all the more important to integrate translation into your process chain. The basic rule of thumb is that mistakes and alterations become costlier the further into the project you get.

To prevent errors during the production, translation and revision stage, many corporate communication departments use their own editorial systems with integrated interfaces to external partners such as copywriters, translators and graphic designers. This ensures that everyone is working on the most recent version of the text, changes are transparent and data exchange becomes easier. Companies can also use this technology to send texts out for translation at the click of a button, whenever they want. However, it is crucial that project managers and the translation team communicate effectively with each other, even if there is no technical integration. By doing so projects can be implemented efficiently and on time.


4.  Plan and coordinate carefully

From choosing your translation partner and kicking off the project, to publishing your multi-lingual annual report – you will normally have to make a lot of minor adjustments to both your text and your schedule. At times this can take you to the limit of what is possible or feasible. However, none of this will be an issue if experienced project managers are responsible for coordinating the project. Clear project planning incorporating an agreed set of milestones and an adequate time buffer will help ease the pressure. By the same token, you should therefore factor in enough time for proofreading after the translation is complete. Less time pressure means cutting costs while ensuring quality. 


5.  Proofreading, quality assurance, and desktop publishing are key to an error-free publication

If a publication contains errors it can be very costly, not to mention the potential for a tarnished image and reputation. This is why you should leave the job of proofreading and quality assurance of your annual report to an expert.

After finalising the layout and prior to final publication, text and translation will be reviewed a final time (printing proof) and checked once again against language and style guidelines. Some translation companies offer additional services such as desktop publishing, where sets of documents comprising text and images are prepared for customers. Alternatively it is possible to work and translate directly in various data formats, such as Adobe InDesign, Framemaker and Microsoft Publisher.

These five practical tips will help you to get the most out of your annual report. But that's not all. In recent years, two key trends have emerged in reporting. These are worth taking a closer look at as they can leave a lasting impression.


Reporting trend 1: Digital annual reports

Digitalisation is omnipresent and all the rage. For this reason, the online version of your annual report is becoming ever more important, not least because of the sustainable nature of digital reports.


1.    Online publications are reaching a much wider audience compared with print versions.
2.    Digital annual reports can be retrieved on a long-term basis.
3.    Extracts from an annual report can be reused in customer magazines and online media, for example.


However, not only reports but production processes are also becoming increasingly digital. Large corporates in particular are using professional tools such as editorial systems with interfaces and XML-based exchange formats in order to implement projects efficiently. Being able to use technology via the most efficient, secure and interconnected means possible is therefore a key skill for exploiting the opportunities and synergies of digitalisation.


Reporting trend 2: CSR and sustainability reports

It's not only digitalisation that's gaining traction: sustainability is too. So sustainability reports are increasingly coming into public focus. However, reporting on sustainability does not simply mean putting on pressure to become socially responsible, but is also a chance for companies to show how committed they are to sustainability, compliance, and corporate governance. Investors are not the only ones increasingly taking greater interest in this information – business and environmental journalists are looking closely, too (key word: accountability).


In recent years, it has also become increasingly rare for annual reports to be published in isolation (key word: integrated reporting). More and more companies are publishing their corporate social responsibility (CSR) report and sustainability report in addition. Naturally, just as for the annual report, this content must be written, edited and translated correctly and very carefully.


The SwissGlobal translation solution

Annual reports are complex projects with many potential stumbling blocks. SwissGlobal can translate your messages and ‘narrative’ into a range of languages. For a translation to be successful, precise use of corporate wording (terminology) is imperative – as are in-depth expertise, and relevant linguistic and cultural knowledge. A successful text in the original does not necessarily work in another cultural area or in another language. For broad-based reporting, SwissGlobal offers a linguistically and technically sophisticated one-stop shop – from copywriting, translating and proofreading, and terminology solutions, right through to connectivity to your CMS and interfaces to your editorial system:


Interested? Contact us today.


SwissGlobal services


- Corporate Solutions


- Copywriting


- Translation

- Quality Assurance

- Proofreading

- Specialist Reviews

- Terminology, Alignment, Style Guides

- Multilingual Desktop Publishing

- Printing Proof / Good For Publication

- CMS and Editorial System Connectivity