Content as a Business Asset: Progression Sessions Summary

by Kathy Porray, Proof Sheet Editor

Building on last month’s transformation theme, 23 attendees gathered at the BARNES & NOBLE @ RIT on October 19th to interact with their colleagues in a series of four roundtable progression sessions and discuss content as a business asset. The event was sponsored by Irina White, owner of Language Intelligence.

Each attendee selected a session and then progressed in 20-minute intervals to the next table, allowing everyone the opportunity to participate in all four sessions during the course of the evening. The small-group arrangement personalized the interactive experience.

Discussion topics included:

  • Redefining Your Personal Brand, facilitated by Monroe Community College’s Tom Proietti
  • Single-Sourcing: What does it mean to you and your company, facilitated by Language Intelligence’s Rick White
  • The Red Pen: Best practices for editing on a writing team, facilitated by Ortho Clinical Diagnostics’ Bethany Snyder
  • Designing for Translation with a Minimum Amount of Pain, facilitated by Language Intelligence’s Kait Schuh

Have you ever heard the expression “there’s no such thing as too much white space?” Like death and taxes, it’s a fact of life that languages expand, says Kait Schuh. The more white space you leave in a source document layout, the less likely you’ll be to run into spatial issues in your final, translated design.

Other advice included tips on how to be culturally sensitive, knowing your right from your left, putting legends or keys into body text to minimize the time spend on image editing, and selecting multilingual-friendly fonts to avoid problems when it comes to designing in non-English languages.

As plain vanilla as they may be, Kait suggested that fonts like Arial and Times New Roman are safe bets for translation because they support a wide range of accent and special characters.

Tom Proietti’s advice covered personal branding. As a test, Tom asked each of us to give our 30-second “elevator” speech. He then followed with why it’s important for you to learn how to define yourself and not get lost when working as an individual member of your company’s team. Your personality, personal style, visibility, and credibility, all make up your personal brand. By creating your own “personal” brand rather than allowing others to do it for you, you’re the one who determines how others perceive you. This allows you to differentiate yourself and stand out from your peers.

As a step-by-step how to guide on personal branding and a must-read for the serious job seeker, Tom recommended following up with Career Distinction by William Arruda and Kirsten Dixon.

Rick White’s session focused on the cost advantages of single-sourcing. Why single-source your content? According to Rick, it separates the content from the display and provides a repository to create multiple outputs on an as needed basis. Single-sourcing offers consistency across all documentation and as such makes your documentation more effective and easier to use. For translation, single sourcing is the ultimate cost control.

How does single-sourcing impact what you do? You don’t write the same thing twice, it provides an efficient and easy way to update your material, and it lessens the opportunities for errors. How can you get ahead of the curve if your company moves toward single-sourcing? Familiarize yourself with topic-based authoring, DITA, XML, CMS, and structured writing.

Bethany Snyder’s session discussed the best practices for developing and implementing effective editorial policies and process for writing for translation. She stressed the need for developing a style guide and keeping it updated. Other tips included enforcing the basics such as using simple, straightforward text, avoiding jargon, watching for confusing meaning, and using active voice.

In addition, Bethany stressed the importance of setting the expectations for writing for translation ahead of time. To simplify the writing process, she recommended creating a checklist for writers to use prior to handoff to editorial. Above all, you need to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Create boilerplate text whenever possible and consider using a content management system. And, don’t forget your translation company. Partner with them for a successful outcome.


  1. Thanks for the great coverage of this session, Kathy. It sounds like a very productive session, and I’m sure that this summary will be informative and valuable for those who could not attend. Regards, Lori