What are user manuals?

User manuals are a ubiquitous part of everyday life as they accompany almost any type of new appliance you buy from a bricks and mortar store or online. User manuals do vary in quality somewhat, but basically their purpose is to instruct you about the appliance you have bought – how to install it, how to use it, how to maintain and look after it, what the safety issues are, how to dispose of it, how to get support and often additional information about the manufacturer’s other products.

In most cases, safe use of the product depends on carefully reading and understanding the information in the manual. If the information is misleading, or poorly translated, then there may be potential danger to the user or to other people nearby.

User manuals may be for simple, easy to use appliances like wrist watches or transistor radios, or for quite complex appliances like medical equipment or electric cars

What parts of the user manual content should be translated?

Occasionally, it is possible to find a user manual that has been printed just in the language of the country where the appliance has been purchased. Alternatively, it may be in the language of the country of manufacture. However, because of the widespread use of online shopping and international purchasing, user manual translation has become a standard feature of a manual. In some cases, the number of languages that the manual has been translated into can make the manual a bulky item and it may then be only available online.

For example, manufacturers in the E.U. who aim to market their products may have to provide user manual instructions in the languages of all the E.U. member states. That’s a total of 24 different languages!

It used to be a common feature for user manuals to be made available on a CD which came with the appliance, but because the internet has become almost universal these days, it is usually easy to find the user manual on the manufacturer’s own website and available to download in the preferred language.

User manual translation services are professional translation services who specialise in translating user manuals. When considering just how much of a manual should be translated, the reality is that every part of the manual is important and leaving out part of a manual because of a need to limit space or limit how much it costs to translate the manual doesn’t make using the manual safe.

The importance of professionally translated user manuals

It should now be apparent that the translation of most user manuals apart from, perhaps, the very simplest manuals for easy-to-use products, is extremely important. Any poorly translated instructions, especially where the wrong installation or use of an appliance could result in explosions, fire, electric shock, or other dangerous incident, could be disastrous. Manufacture and distribution of many appliances to a global market comes with the responsibility to use professional translation services and not rely on cheap or free alternatives, like Google Translate. Most products these days are open to independent consumer reviews which are readily available through an internet search, so poor translation decisions could ultimately minimise sales and therefore profits.


There are a number of good professional translators who specialise in user manual translation. If you are the manager of a company that manufactures products or appliances of any kind or are the sales agent for such a company, make sure you use a professional user manual translation agency to help with your translation requirements.