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How to Create a Terminology and Glossary Lists

Creating a terminology and glossary list is an investment in time that will pay off quickly. If you plan ahead and create a process for keeping the list active, you can enable high quality transaltions and ensure all of your communication from your organization is consistent and clear for your end-users.

The following are some of the steps we recommend for creating and maintaining your terminology and glossary lists:

Gather Terms

This can be a tricky step. We sometimes are so accustomed to the terminology in our industry, we don’t even think about it. But when communicating with our communities, we have to get into their heads to make sure they will understand our message. Not only do we need to think about the end users, we have to make sure the people doing the translations completely understand the context of a phrase. Using some guidelines to create a term list can help. For example, you can include commonly used terms, particularly complicated ideas, and industry-specific acronymns. The list may include single words, acronymns, or short phrases.

You can also ask your translation provider to perform a “terminology extraction” from previous translations. (Yes! Mindlink can do this for you).

Terminology List Template

Need a format for your list. Download it here to get started.

Translate the Terms

Once you have the list, you can send it to professional translators. We recommend parallel translations where two translators work on the same text at the same time. Where there are discrepencies, the translators can discuss the best way to convey the idea.

Back Translation

After the translation has been completed, you can have “back translation” performed. “Back translation ” is a quality step where the target language is translated BACK into English. Then you can compare the back translation against the English source term. You might catch some differences (for example, a word like “plant” could be a verb or a noun. Back translation would catch if the translator picked the wrong version).

Community Input

Another helpful step is to ask members who are part of the community you are trying to reach to review the terms and highlight any confusing or unclear terms. The community might bring perspectives on how the language is used in your area and provide valuable feedback.

Publish the List

Once you are satisfied with the quality of the terms, you should publish the list somewhere that can be accessed by content creators and the translation team.


The last step “repeat” is a very important one! At some interval (maybe every year) do a “term inventory”. Are there terms that should be added or updated? Maybe some terms should no longer be used because it is found that they are not using inclusive language (i.e. “whitelisting“).

Did you know Mindlink has a Terms Database “TermsBase” that is available to help with this process? It’s still in beta version (and we’re not set on the name — any suggestions??). Check it out!

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