Developing a Style Guide for Technical Manuals

This workshop will focus on translating technical manuals from Japanese into English. It is intended for translators who are interested in translating manuals for hardware and/or software installation, operation, programming, maintenance, and servicing procedures. A manual for an industrial machine controller will be used as an example.

The workshop will introduce the typical parts of a manual: high-level descriptions, tables and figures, tips to the reader, procedures, safety precautions, and terminology.

The main topic will describe a practical approach to developing a style guide that outlines the sentence style for each part of the manual, such as the use of gerunds for headings, full sentences in high-level descriptions, assumed subjects in bullet points, and the use of active voice, passive voice, and imperatives. This will be followed by a workshop in which participants will identify parts of a manual and develop their own style guide. A style guide can improve the quality of the finished translation and maintain style consistency throughout the manual. It can also help boost the translator’s productivity by eliminating guesswork, and assist editors tasked with maintaining consistency across work done by multiple translators. If the style guide is made in a presentable form, it can justify the translator’s choice for sentence preference, and raise the actual and
perceived value of the translator.