How to avoid getting "lost in translation"

Uncertain about how and when to translate content? Here are a few tips to help you find your way.
Image by Jordan Scott on Unsplash.

McGill's Digital standards list three key requirements for translated website content:

  • Ensure your content is professionally translated
  • Keep your French content synced with your English content
  • Contact McGill Translation Services for guidance translating content

But as a first step, how to do you determine which of the 900+ pages of your website need to be translated?

Our accessible, diverse and inclusive campus speaks both English and French

Located in the heart of the largest French-speaking metropolis in America, French is an integral part of McGill's campus culture. In our community, providing accessible, diverse and inclusive digital spaces includes communicating and sharing information in both English and French.

Take the first step

For many McGill departments, aiming to produce all web content in both English and French may see like a daunting task. A manageable approach could be to take an initial step and then determine further actions. Here are some guidelines that may help with prioritizing content for translation:


  • Be user focused
    • Be aware of your audience needs and requirements concerning translated content; produce web content and layouts that align with those needs
    • Take extra care when considering situations where it could be more critical to provide content in both English and French, for example:
      • Sharing messages related to matters of health, safety or security
      • Proving support for student success
      • Sharing information with the general public
  • Be consistent
    • Is existing English and French content on your site in sync?
    • Has your content been professionally translated?
    • When referencing titles (e.g. faculties, departments, job titles, etc.) do you use McGill's official translations?
  • Make sites accessible and inclusive

    • Ensure your site content reflects the linguistic diversity of your audience
    • When translating web pages take care to translate accessibility-related content, e.g. alternative text for images and videos
    • Use gender-neurtral language in both English and French

When you have identified content to be translated, contact McGill Translation Services for guidance and resources for obtaining professional translations.

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