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Term of the Week: Terminology Management

What is it?

The practice of actively maintaining dictionaries and glossaries focusing on globally accepted technical standards. Technical terms are organized and controlled, with a clear set of guidelines dictating their use.

Why is it important?

Terminology management enables correct and consistent use of terms throughout the writing process or any other effort requiring accurate vocabulary usage.

Why does a technical communicator need to know this?

Terminology (words or phrases) is used to describe how a product works and how people use that product. Terms are also used to tag content to support such activities as reporting and personalization. Technical terms are incorporated into language used in a variety of content types, including product sheets, material declarations, user manuals, knowledgebase support articles, informational videos, and the like.

Content creators choose terminology that reflects their perspective, the perspective of their business unit, and the geographical region. Inconsistent use of terminology can, at the very least, cause confusion or, more seriously, result in legal problems.

The advantages to controlling terminology include the following:

  • adherence to technical standards
  • linguistic quality
  • uniform word usage across an organization (including brand- and company-specific terms)
  • conformance to legal requirements
  • protection of trademarked and registered product names

Careful terminology management can facilitate translation reuse, reduce errors during authoring or translation, shorten revision time, and help streamline the content creation process.

Terminology management systems maintain terms in a central storehouse and allow for the organization of terms in multiple languages. They manage terms and enable us to provide editorial guidelines based on automated rules. Governance over terms is based both on these systematic rules and on governance committee decisions based on business needs. Leveraging metrics data can also help identify opportunities to improve terminology usage and productivity.

About Rebecca Schneider

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Rebecca Schneider has extensive background in content strategy, librarianship, knowledge management, and information technology. She has recently formed a new content strategy agency, AvenueCX with Kevin P. Nichols.

She is currently writing a book on the the basics of metadata and taxonomy framework development, focusing on practical, real-world application. Rebecca has worked in a variety of industries, including automotive, semiconductors, telecommunications, retail, financial services, and international development.

Term: Terminology Management



Twitter: @1MoreRebecca