B. Developing a Publications Department

Internationalization and Localization

If your company does a portion of its business internationally, you may need to localize or internationalize your documentation. Internationalization involves creating a "generic" document that can be easily translated into or used in many languages or cultures, converting any language or culture-specific references into generic ones. Localization involves converting a document that is specific to a language or culture into one that is specific to a different language or culture. See Chapter 3, "Writing for an International Audience," for more specific details.

Some companies simply translate their documentation into specific languages; others fully internationalize or localize the product and documentation. Although larger companies generally have a dedicated department to handle this process, others depend on the publications department.

This is a large and complicated area that requires some expertise. Decisions about the process that affect publications include:

For smaller documents, you may want to have all languages in one document; for larger documents you probably will want separate documents for each language. This decision must also take into account your company's manufacturing, product kitting, and inventory methods, and the number of copies to be printed for each locale.