Best Practices

What To Pay Attention To When Translating Contracts

Explore the intricacies of translating contracts with accuracy. This guide delves into reasons for translating contracts, emphasizing accuracy's role in international partnerships. Learn about regional variations, managing terminology, and addressing legal nuances.
Gabriel Polycarpo
28 min

What is a Contract

A contract is, in short, a legally binding and enforceable agreement between two or more parties, creating mutual obligations. When two parties decide to enter into an agreement, an offer – which could be a promise to perform a service or sell a product, for example – is made by one party and accepted by the other. By signing a contract, the signatories agree to its terms and are bound by them.

Reasons for Having a Contract Translated into Another Language

International partnerships require the parties involved to be on the same page when it comes to duties, risks and responsibilities.

In the globalization era, more and more businesses are promoting international trade, executing mergers and acquisition deals. The benefits associated with these practices include:

  • Financial strength;
  • Access to a wider range of resources;
  • Reduction in production costs;
  • Access to a larger talent pool.

Because of the high risks associated with international trade, contract translations have to be 100% accurate, or else they can lead to disputes or even render a contract invalid. 

Who Can Translate a Contract?

Any translator with sufficient knowledge in legal language can, technically, translate a contract. However, understanding legal terms is not enough. It is important to be familiar with the governing law and terms used in the countries where the contract is to be performed.

A contract written in European Portuguese might not contain the correct terms that will make a provision enforceable in Brazil, despite the official language of both countries being Portuguese. That doesn’t necessarily mean that such provision, or the whole contract, will be deemed void; it just means that in case company A decides to sue company B for breach of contract, the court will not award company A any damages.

Which Version of the Contract Will Prevail Over the Other?

Typically, the language the contract was originally written in is the one the court will take into consideration. However, when drawing up an international commercial contract, it is possible to insert a clause establishing which version of the contract will prevail.

Which Governing Law and Jurisdiction Will Prevail in Case of a Dispute? 

When drawing up a contract, it is possible to add a clause defining the governing law to be applied towards the case as well as the Court that will hear the dispute.

However, due to the complexity of laws governing certain countries or states, these clauses are not a guarantee that the jurisdiction or Court chosen by the parties will be enforced.

It is also possible to include an arbitration clause in a contract, electing a neutral third party that will hear a dispute out of court. In an arbitration, resolution tends to be speedier, matters are kept confidential, and costs tend to be lower.  

In all cases, an attorney specialized in International Law will know exactly how to draw up an international contract and which clauses to insert/not to insert in it.

Do Contracts Need to Be Translated Literally?

No. Because contract verbiage and structure may vary from one country to another, even between countries that speak the same language, a contract translation may look slightly different than the original version.

However, a contract translation has to convey the exact same message of the original document. It is the responsibility of the translator to fully understand the meaning of each sentence in the contract.

Does a Contract Translation Need to Be Certified?

A client may require that a translation be certified. If that happens, according to the American Translators Association, the translator needs to write a certification statement. Please check the American Translators Association for more information on how to certify a translation and what to include in a certification statement in the United States.

Does a Contract Translation Need to Be Notarized?

This will depend on the client. But if the client requires the contract translation to be notarized, i.e., legally acknowledged by a notary public, DO NOT sign the certification statement in advance, as the notary needs to witness your signature. Please check the legislation in your country.

NDA and Confidentiality in Contract Translation

Very often, translators are asked to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). NDAs are legally enforceable agreements between two parties ensuring that sensitive information is not disclosed to third parties. Confidentiality is required for several reasons, especially in the competitive markets of nowadays. 

In a situation where you do need to share your translation with someone else, e.g., for proofreading, you will need written consent from your client first. Disclosing information that should be kept confidential might get you into trouble.

Best Practices for Translating Contracts

If you are the translator who has been given the task of translating an agreement, please make sure that:

  • You have sufficient knowledge of contract translation;
  • You have excellent grammar (punctuation, syntax) in both the source and the target language;
  • You are familiar with the legal terms used in the countries where the contract will be performed;
  • You have been given enough time to translate the document;
  • You know where your resources are (glossaries, translation memories, etc.);
  • Consistency is ensured throughout the entire document.
  • You have revised your document thoroughly and had your translation thoroughly proofread before sending it to your client. It helps to have the translation proofread by a second pair of eyes.

It is advisable that you read the contract from beginning to end before you start working on your translation to avoid surprises later.

Once the translation is completed, if it was translated from a foreign language to the language of your client, instruct him/her to have the document reviewed by an attorney. This will ensure that the translation does not render clauses that are not enforceable by law or that could cause problems in the future.

Should I Contact the Client With Questions Regarding the Contract?

It is not unprofessional to contact the company or the responsible lawyer with questions you might have regarding terms or clauses of the contract. Contacting your client or company is, indeed, advisable. Similarly, if you find mistakes in the original document, such as missing words or typos, do let the client know as soon as possible.

Common Mistakes When Translating a Contract


Punctuation is not universal across languages, especially when it comes to commas. Commas have been responsible for catastrophical mistakes and are known to have cost millions. See the two stories below:

“Fruit-Plants” vs “Fruit, Plants”

In 1872, when the United States was under the government of Ulysses S. Grant, a Tariff Act was issued, which contained a list of items exempt from import tariffs. It is important to mention that at that time, like today, taxes represented a huge portion of government revenue. Among the items exempt from taxation were “fruit, plants, tropical and semi-tropical for the purpose of propagation or cultivation.”

The copying clerk, however, had made a typo: where it reads “fruit, plants”, a hyphen should be in the place of the comma, making it “fruit-plants”. Because of that, fruits were suddenly exempt from import taxes. 

That resulted in a loss of many millions in revenue and compensations.

A Comma Worth US$5 Million

More recently, in 2018, following a lawsuit, a court ruled in favor of a group of dairy delivery drivers who had never received overtime compensation. 

Well, Maine’s labor laws read that those involved in “the canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of: (1) Agricultural produce; (2) Meat and fish products; and (3) Perishable foods” were not entitled to additional pay.

Because there was no comma between ‘shipment’ and ‘distribution’, one could interpret “packing for shipment or distribution” as two separate tasks. This way, the drivers, who were involved in the distribution – but not in the packing of perishable foods–, could, the, be entitled to overtime pay. 

Had an Oxford comma been there, there would be no room for confusion. The Court decided that the drivers were entitled to receive $5 million.

Numbers and Amounts

When expressing amounts, different languages have different ways to separate decimals, thousands, etc. For example, note how commas and points are used and placed differently to express the number ‘one hundred thousand point fifty’ in American English, Indian English and Portuguese:

‘False’ and ‘Partial False Friends’

False friends are terms that look similar but have different meanings. Partial false friends are terms that have more than one meaning in one or both languages, and one or some of the meanings are not shared between the two languages.

These can easily sneak into your document if you are not fully focused on your translation.


Execute (American English) vs. Executar (Portuguese)

Partial false friends can potentially lead to confusion:

To indemnify, in American English, according to, means:

1. to compensate for damage or loss sustained, expense incurred, etc
2. to guard or secure against anticipated loss; give security against (future damage or liability)

These definitions are quite contrasting. In Spanish and Portuguese, for example, only the first definition, ‘to compensate for damage or loss’, is found for the words ‘indemnizar’/’indenizar’. 

For the second definition of ‘indemnify’, some of the terms that can be used in Spanish and Portuguese include:

Words With Different Meanings Across Different Varieties of a Language

A contract written in Indian English may contain terms that are not used or intelligible in American or British English. For example:

To avail (Indian English) =  to make use of something, especially an opportunity or offer

“To avail all these benefits, just register online.”

  • Source of definition:
    Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries,

    These terms may not necessarily be a part of legalese, but they can be present in contracts. That is why it is important to be proficient in the dialect you are translating into.

Typical Wording Used in Contracts

It is not enough to be proficient in the language of the contract, it is important to know the typical wording used in the country of the contract.

For example, when dealing with documents drawn up in Brazilian Portuguese, you might come across an ‘instrumento particular de contrato de prestação de serviços’. Although this could technically be rendered in English as a literal ‘private contract instrument for the provision of services’, that would not be the standard way of referring to a ‘service agreement’.

As you can see, certain words add no meaning to a sentence. They are only present in contracts due to historical conventions. These can be added/removed without prejudice to the meaning of the sentence or to contract enforcement when they reflect common practices of contract writing in a certain language or country.

Some legal doublets and triplets are the perfect examples of pleonasms. For example: ‘alter or change’, ‘from now and henceforth’, ‘true and correct’, ‘indemnify and hold harmless’, ‘null, void and of no effect’. Each term of the doublet/triplet is a synonym and could be left out in the translation if there is no equivalent in the target language.

However, you should not trespass that limit. You can only adapt a translation if you are sure that your adaptation is accurate and will not affect the meaning or enforceability of the clause or contract.

A Few Resources for Contract Translation:

  • The American Bar Association offers a legal glossary of terms commonly found in legal documents in the United States. You can take advantage of reliable glossaries to compare definitions across languages.

  • The United States Courts’ website also offers a glossary of legal terms.

  • is very useful when it comes to resources for translators. Besides extensive translation dictionaries and glossaries for specialized terms, it also features KudoZ, a very popular network where translators can ask questions that are translated by other professional translators.

  • DeepL claims to be the world’s most accurate translator and to be 3x more accurate than its closest competitors. DeepL is based on artificial neural networks and has been trained with using the database from Liguee.

  • Bureau Work’s powerful translation management system features sophisticated technology, ensuring translation consistency, providing alternative translation options and flagging potential semantic errors.

Where Can I Find Qualified Translators To Translate My Contracts?

It is not difficult to fall into the pitfalls that exist in the translation business. Because of that, legal translation must be taken seriously.

If you are looking for a document translation service that is reliable and has a proven track record of success, please check out this article that we have prepared with the 10 best document translation companies.

Among the popular translation services available in the market, Bureau Works offers the best legal translation services due to its combination of skilled linguists and proprietary technology. Bureau Works’ linguists are experts in the translation of commercial agreements and contracts, court and immigration documents, business content, among others.

If you are a translator yourself and skilled enough to translate your own legal documents, you should consider getting a legal document translation software, and here’s why. But do not try to cut corners with free document translation software as this will most likely jeopardize your business, your clients and even yourself. On top of that, you are very likely to end up having to pay the hidden costs of free document translation software.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice, please consult an attorney.

Collaborative translation is a powerful tool for your business if you’re looking to expand to new global markets. By coordinating a team of professionals who work together in real-time, you can quickly deliver high quality translations that resonate with local audiences.

But what if you don't know how to synchronize a large team's efforts? Or are you‌ struggling to find the right software for a well-coordinated translation process? Well, look no further! In this guide, you'll learn all the know-how's of collaborative translation to bring your brand to global audiences.


  1. What is collaborative translation?
  2. Why seamless translation collaboration is important
  3. Best practices for collaborative translation and global market success

What is collaborative translation?

Collaborative translation is when multiple people simultaneously work together to translate content. A collaborative translation process often makes use of specialized tools and software to make sure the translation is quick, accurate, and consistent.

  • Example: Let's say you're a B2B SaaS company looking to translate your marketing materials into a new language to connect with potential clients abroad. Use collaborative translation to bring together translators, developers, and other specialists to translate content into many languages at once.

Your team can use a collaborative translation platform like Redokun to work on projects simultaneously. A coordinated workflow will make sure that your translations use the same terminology and style, improving the quality of the translated product for your target audiences.

Collaborative Translation vs. Crowdsourcing

People often confuse collaborative translation with crowdsourcing and think the two are the same. However, these approaches to translation are different.

Crowdsourcing is when a large group of people contributes translations, often through an open call or invitation by a company or author. Brands can turn to crowdsourcing, community translation, or volunteer translation when they are looking to reduce costs and accelerate the process, especially for large multi-language projects.

In crowdsourced translations, the contributors can be volunteer translators, subject matter experts, or just anonymous individuals online. In other words, you may not know who's worked on the translation and what their qualifications are. It makes crowdsourcing distinct from collaborative translation, where the team would be an established group of professionals you've selected

Why seamless translation collaboration is important

As a busy B2B/B2C marketing manager or project manager, you might ask yourself: Isn't the "divide and conquer" a better strategy when working on a translation or localization project? It seems logical that each project team member, including translators, designers, and editors, works on their tasks separately and step by step.

However, collaborative translation can help your team reap many benefits compared to a traditional approach to translation projects:

Reasons why seamless translation collaboration is important
  • Produce high-quality translations consistently. When your whole team works on a translation project simultaneously on one platform, it's easier to stay in context and keep track of the translation accuracy for every target language. On top of that, your team can conduct agile QA throughout the project cycle.
  • Faster turnaround times. By working together, your team can complete projects faster and more efficiently. Centralization saves a lot of time at every stage of translation. And since your team can work on more than one translation at a time, you can publish your translated content in several new markets at once.
  • Reduced costs. You get to improve efficiency while working with a smaller team of translators. The smaller and more coordinated the team, the less the risk of costly translation errors. It means reduced translation costs and better project budget compliance.
  • Increased flexibility. Collaborative translation allows your team to produce translations into many languages at once and easily make changes to any project document. You can conveniently engage in a feedback loop and guarantee a continuous localization process.
  • Better communication. Collaborative translation effectively brings all members of your localization team together on one platform. It helps you make sure that everyone is working toward the same goals ‌and simplifies overall localization management.

Six best practices for collaborative translation and global market success

To be great at collaborative translation, you need to approach it strategically. Even if you've never used this approach before, you can follow the six steps below to build an efficient collaborative translation workflow. And if you're already familiar with this method, these practices will help you improve the way you collaborate on any translation projects.

Six best practices for collaborative translation for your global business success

1. Work out a detailed project plan

Before you start working on translations together, you need a clear-cut project plan. You should first identify the following items.

  • Project timeline: Define crucial deadlines, project milestones, and the overall project duration.
  • Translation volume and key deliverables: Calculate the general word count, and determine the workload for every language pair if you translate into multiple languages.
  • Project budget: Keep in mind possible added and hidden translation costs.
  • Project team: Define what kind of specialists you need: translators, editors, proofreaders, etc. Will you need to find external translators? Consider all your HR needs in advance.
  • Your approach to the translation process: How much do you want to rely on machine translation? At what point will you edit translated strings? Answer all these questions before you go on.
  • Quality assurance protocol: Establish an efficient QA procedure for all the language pairs you're working on.

It may sound like a handful but the more detailed the plan, the more streamlined the translations will be down the road. Besides, you can already use Redokun to boost this stage of the localization process!

Redokun is a translation management system you can use to automate, coordinate, and optimize your translation processes from content creation to publication.

Redokun simplifies your project planning. In particular, you can use the tool to:

  • Monitor your ongoing translations easily. Keep track of all of your translation files and projects across multiple languages in one space, and check their progress at a glance.
Redokun Document Detail Page
  • Meet deadlines with digest emails. Redokun will send you daily or weekly email digests to update you on the progress of translations. From there, you can initiate one-click reminders to your translators who are potentially falling behind schedule.
  • Making budget planning easier. Redokun has a transparent, scalable pricing structure that will cover exactly the volume of work your project needs.
Redokun is an easy-to-use tool that requires no onboarding. Your team can start using all the system’s features right away. During your project planning stage, you won’t need to factor in a lengthy training period to introduce team members to the tool.

2. Divide tasks and assign responsibilities the smart way

Good collaboration is impossible without a well-planned distribution and organization of roles and tasks. Ensure that every team member is on the same page and understands their respective responsibilities.

For example, the project managers should divide ‌translation tasks among translation team members according to their language proficiency, area of expertise, or subject matter knowledge.
  • On Redokun, you can invite translators to work on different language pairs and content types depending on their skills. All you need to do is enter the translator's email. The software will send them an email invitation and let you know once they've started translating the file.
  • You can also invite several translators to work on one document.
How to invite translators to Redokun

To maximize the efficiency of project management and task division, establish a clear structure of your workflow. Make sure all your pages, files, and folders are well organized and team members know where to find necessary resources for their respective tasks. A centralized, cloud-based storage for all your documents is a must.

  • Redokun is a cloud-based software that makes file management easy. You can create folders and customize permission settings for multiple users for better organization. No more need to look for spreadsheets and lost documents scattered around different digital locations.
  • Don't forget to make the most of the Reporting Dashboard. It shows you the status of the translation project and helps you see how users distribute tasks (for example, what methods they use to translate different content segments).
Redokun Dashboard with translation statistics

3. Enhance the collaborative translation process with clear communication

It's important to have open communication channels among all team members in your translation project, including internal and external translators. For a successful collaboration effort, you need a shared communication space to:

  • Conduct regular check-ins.
  • Discuss translation options and other aspects of the working process.
  • Update and adjust requirements and guidelines.
  • Maintain feedback loops.
It's up to you to choose between email, messengers, or tools like Google Drive or Slack to keep your collboarative operations flowing. However, using multiple channels for different aspects of the project can get messy. It's harder to manage your team and make sure all collaborators are up to date on the ongoing translation tasks.

You can avoid these potential problems by centralizing all your communications and project management. With translation software like Redokun, you can manage, translate, communicate, and collaborate — all in one place.

  • Translate content in context. Your translators or editors can use page previews in Web Editor to understand the context of the text while working on it.
  • Work together in real-time. Use Redokun as a full-scale collaborative translation platform. It enables real-time cooperation among your team members, improving efficiency and reducing communication errors.
  • Use comments, mentions, and notifications to exchange feedback quickly. Redokun's Web Editor is a convenient place to stay in touch and discuss your translation progress every step of the way.
Collaboration feature in Redokun
  • Create a hybrid workflow. Work with your in-house teams or external translators to suit different localization project formats and scalability needs.

4. Use machine translation and translation memory tools

Computer-assisted translation tools are a great addition to human translation. Machine translation (MT) helps your collaborators speed up the localization process by automating translation. Of course, it doesn't have the quality of a human professional translation — it’s more like a helping hand that's always there to facilitate the translation of complex phrases or new terms.

  • Redokun is integrated with two Machine Translation tools: Google Translate and DeepL. Translation suggestions by these two tools pop up right below where the translator should key in the translation, as shown here.

To enhance collaboration even further, consider using translation memory tools. They ensure consistency and save translation software users a lot of time.

Translation memory (TM) is a translation technology that stores previously translated sentences or phrases as segments and creates a unique database for your localization projects. You can reuse your translation to increase efficiency and consistency in ongoing and future translations.

With Redokun as your collaborative translation platform, you can leverage TM to:

  • Consistently translate any repeated word, phrase, or sentence across different language pairs and documents. It's especially important for translating technical terms, marketing slogans, CTAs, and other catchphrases. Translation memory helps you stay consistent in your marketing messaging.
  • Pre-translate your entire documents. Combine TM matches from your previous translations with Machine Translation to get a fully pre-translated document even before your team gets to work.
  • Manage your translation memory database. Import and customize your TM database to further improve translation quality and consistency.
”The speed of translation is quite impressive in that it doesn’t take [much time], maybe a couple of minutes when you translate from English to eight markets. I think that’s what I’m most impressed by.”

Read more about how Kenni and the marketing team at Rockfon increased their translation productivity by 70% using translation memories and other Redokun features

5. Use glossaries and style guides

Glossaries and style guides are valuable resources your team can use for reliable reference.

A glossary is a list of terms and their corresponding translations that are specific to a company or industry.

A style guide outlines the preferred tone, voice, and style for a company's marketing materials across markets and languages.

Your collaborators can refer to these resources when they’re not sure about a translation. For example is when they're deciding how to translate a company abbreviation, whether to the Oxford comma, or choosing the right tone to address customers, etc. No more ambiguity about linguistic, stylistic, and cultural aspects of your translations.

  • Use Redokun's glossary feature to create a glossary and style guide that outlines rules for spelling, grammar, punctuation, terminology, and tone specific to your project.
Redokun glossary feature preview

6. Continuously review and revise

A key benefit of a collaborative translation platform is the ability to review and revise translations in an agile and efficient manner. By involving multiple specialists in the process of editing and QA, you can guarantee accuracy and consistency in the translated content at every stage of the project.

To implement effective review and revision procedures in your collaborative translation projects, it is important to:

  • Plan for review and revision in advance. Identify who will be responsible, set the timeline, and use specific tools.
  • Consider involving in-country reviewers who are familiar with the local market and culture to ensure that the translations are accurate and appropriate for the target audience.
  • Perform regular QA checks. They should include consistency in terminology and formatting, and verify that the translations are free from grammatical errors and typos.
Pro-tip: Ever experienced the headache of having to update a translation that’s already 70% done when there is a last-minute change to the source document?

With Redokun’s revision feature, you don’t have to spend hours poring over Excel sheets and comparing files to spot the places where new words have been added or sentences have been changed. Just upload the latest document version and the system will identify new text that needs translating — saving your team’s time and effort while keeping previous translations intact.


Collaborative translation is an excellent approach if you want to improve the consistency of your translations, reduce costs, and establish a strong presence in global markets.

The key to seamless collaboration is a combination of careful planning, role distribution, agile QA, and smart use of translation software.

Make Redokun part of your collaborative translation efforts and enhance the pace of your global business growth‌. Start your 14-day free trial today and benefit from a quicker and more streamlined translation workflow.

Till next time,


Gabriel Polycarpo
As a translator and creative writer, Gabriel specializes in writing/translating for the technology and hospitality industries, having provided copywriting, localization and translation services for major companies such as Skillshare, Tech5, Hotelogix, Fidentech, Earn2Trade, UN agencies, Yarina Lodge, Hacienda La Ciénega and Fundación Pachamama, as well as production companies, independent producers and writers such as the BlinkBox Studio (Jordan), Studio Zut (São Paulo) and American author Bryan Cassady.
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