Preparing Your Documents for Arabic Translation

December 04, 2017

If you are targeting customers in Arabic-speaking countries, you likely need to have your marketing documents localized into Arabic. This could include content like brochures, menus, price lists and press releases. Arabic is a bi-directional language and one of the most sophisticated and diverse languages, so here are a few tips to consider while planning for your Arabic document translation project.

Know Your Target Audience

preparing arabic translation - 1


Arabic is the official language for around 27 countries and is spoken as a minority language in another six countries. Although there is a standard Arabic form that is understood for all Arabic speakers, if you are targeting a specific country or region, you may need to use a certain dialect or terminology for that locale. It is important at this stage to hire native speakers from the targeted country so they are aware of the locale requirements in terms of culture, terminology, colloquialisms, habits, etc.

Make Sure Source Files are Final


It will save time and money to wait until your document source files are finalized before you send them out for translation. Although any changes in the source file could be minor, it will still affect the translation schedule and can result in delays and additional cost. A single word change can lead to re-translating the entire sentence to maintain the meaning, so it is recommended to send only final versions to the translation vendor.

Plan for the Layout Formatting


If these documents are going to be printed, they should be formatted after the translation is completed. Arabic has specific desktop publishing requirements, so it is important to get the documents formatted by a native Arabic speaker who is aware of the specific tools, fonts and formatting requirements. The formatted files should also be checked by the linguist who translated the files before sending them to print to make sure the final files are correct with no issues. Usage of incompatible fonts, for example, might lead to text corruption and render a non-readable text.


When you provide your translation team with the source files they can easily export and import the content for translation using the professional translation tools without the need to manually copy and paste to and from Word files. Please make sure to also provide brand guidelines and the full set of fonts and images to avoid any delays or issues.

Agree on the Deliverable Format


Specify what format you would like your final translated files delivered in so the translation teams can prepare the files correctly. This will ensure they do not need to rework the files if delivered in a different format. Also, your translation partner can advise you on the best review-friendly format so you can review the translation and deliver your comments in the most efficient manner for both parties.

Provide Your Linguists with Existing Glossaries and Reference Files


In order to help the linguists have a clear idea of what they are translating, you can send them any previous glossaries, translations, website links or any other content that helps them know more about the brand or product they are translating. Arabic is a rich language and each word can have many synonyms, so providing the linguists with additional information will ensure they are using your preferred terminology and communicating your brand's message effectively.

Designate a Realistic Turnaround Time


A professional translation agency has to go through several steps to ensure final quality. These steps can include file preparation, glossary creation, rounds of translation, editing and reviewing, so it is important to allow appropriate time to make sure quality is not compromised. Since Arabic is a highly stylistic language and its syntax is different from English, it is very important to allow time to get the translation reviewed and edited by a second linguist to make sure the translation sounds natural to Arabic speakers.

Further Resources on Arabic Culture, Language and Translation


Globalization Partners International (GPI) has extensive experience localizing marketing materials, technical documents, and large, scalable websites into the Arabic language. We have previously posted a number of useful guides for best practices in this area. Feel free to review our blogs that are particularly relevant:



Please feel free to contact GPI at with any questions about our language and technology services.  Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in our future blogs.

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Ahmed is a native Arabic speaker from Egypt, Cairo. He has over 12 years’ experience in the translation and localization field working as a Hebrew – Arabic translator and editor. He has also held positions for language Testing Engineer and Localization Project Manager. Ahmed has extensive experience in handling large volume translation projects for software and document localization. He has worked for a range of translation and localization groups and companies including Microsoft, Babylon, Saudisoft, as well as several governmental authorities. He holds a B.A. degree in Translation and Interpreting from Faculty of Alsun Ain Shams University and additionally is a certified Hebrew - Arabic translator with a High Translation professional diploma from the same faculty. He is a published author translating news articles and writing political analysis with contributions to an array of research centers and newspapers including AL Aharam, Beirut Political Centre, Aldiplomasy Magazine, and Lindro Italian News, to name a few. In his free time Ahmed likes swimming, shooting and reading about new ideas.