Material used during the QA phase

The material used during the QA phase is generally quite similar to the material used during the other phases of the project. It may vary from one QA person to another since personal preferences can also impact on the way QA is performed.

  • On screen or hard copy: when performing linguistic QA, some people prefer to print all of the documents. This is also the case for DTP QA. Indeed, in some cases, it is easier to spot a problem when the documents are printed rather than checking them on screen, as documents are not always displayed in their real size. On the other hand, with software such as Adobe Acrobat Pro, QA staff can easily insert comments on PDF files, in which case it would be a clear advantage to work on screen.
  • Glossaries: it is important to know which glossaries have been used by the translators and reviewers so that the same ones can be used. Obviously, other specialised glossaries can also be used.
  • Customer’s website: for customers with multilingual websites, it may also be of help to cross-check the translation with the local websites to ensure consistency of terminology, style and even the naming of products.
  • Reference material from the customer: normally at the QA stage, one can assume that all of the customer’s instructions have been followed and that the customer’s preferences have been taken into account. Still, if the QA person wants to double-check certain points, it is important that they have all of the material used by the other project participants, such as customer glossaries, customer style guides, specific instructions, previous customer feedback, etc.
  • Source language material: when QAing translated texts, some people prefer to focus on the target material without referring to the source content. However, from time to time, the source material may be needed to check sources of potential problems. Other QA staff, on the other hand, prefer to compare the entire target content against the source to ensure that no meaning has been lost. When performing technical QA, for instance when checking the layout of a target document, it is generally preferable to compare against the source to ensure that layout is respected. When QAing Flash animations, it is also important to compare the translated version against the source animation since there are usually special visual effects that will need to be identical.
  • Translation Memories (TMs1): TMs may or may not be used during the linguistic QA phase. Normally, the text should already have been revised, so the TM may no longer be needed. Still, some QA personnel who are used to TM processes prefer to continue working with the TM segments or even use the TM for the its Concordance features2.
  • Previous projects: if possible, the translation of a previous version of the document or software may be used to double-check that the new translation is consistent with it.
  • QA tools: some software applications have been developed specifically for QA purposes. Thus, tools have been developed which can automatically detect inconsistencies or grammar and spelling mistakes, or broken links in compiled help files or websites3.
  • 1. Translation Memories are a category of Computer-Aided Translation tools. The principle is to save each source segment (part) of a text together with its corresponding translation in a database. Whenever a source segment identical to one previous saved in the database appears in the same document or in another text, the TM tool will propose the stored translation. If the source segment is not exactly the same but is similar, the stored translation will still be proposed, but with some indication as to how the new source segment differs from the stored source segment so that the proposed translation can be modified accordingly.
  • 2. Feature allowing the user to search a TM for all occurrences of a term/phrase to check how it has been translated in the past; especially useful if the translation can vary according to the context.
  • 3. Examples of QA tools: QA Distiller (Yamagata), HTMLHelpQA (SDL), as well as various components or plug-ins within existing software, such as the Tag Verifier plug-in included in SDL Trados TagEditor.