Menu - Upper Menu

» Guidelines for translators

Guidelines for translators

Science in School aims to promote inspiring science teaching across Europe. For this reason, we publish articles online in several European languages.

We are very grateful to all teachers and scientists who volunteer to translate articles in Science in School from English into their native languages. If you are interested in helping, please email us (, detailing your language skills, involvement in science / science education and translation experience.

Please make sure you read the following guidelines carefully before starting with your first translation.

Format of the translations

We will provide the English articles as Word (.doc) or rich text format (.rtf) files and the finished translations should be returned in this format. Please translate the whole article, including the title, 'translated by' (including your name), introduction, figure legends and (if present) the review at the end. Each translated paragraph should be written next to the corresponding English paragraph in the tabulated article. This helps us to identify which paragraph is which. Please note that some words will have a special kind of formatting (in italics, underlined, or bold) - please maintain this formatting, as it helps us identify the corresponding words or phrases in your translation. We may, for example, want to attach a link to the words or phrases, as in the English original.

Translating review articles

We feel that translating a review (for example of a book, CD-ROM or website) only really makes sense if the reviewed material is also available in the language that you are translating into. Those readers who cannot understand the review in one language (e.g. English), probably cannot appreciate the materials in that language either. If you do translate a review, please include the correct details for the translated version of the reviewed material, e.g. publisher, publication year, ISBN etc. Please also add the original (probably English) title, so that readers can find the original version of the material if they need to.

Translation style

The translation should present the information in the original article concisely, accurately and comprehensibly. Science in School aims for an engaging, journalistic style, and this style should be maintained in translation. Avoid translating literally (word for word), but do not change the contents or meaning of a sentence.

Please do not use automatic translators - we would like our translations to be as readable and engaging as the English originals of our articles, rather than gibberish that might, at best, be amusing to read, but makes little sense.

When in doubt about the meaning of a word or sentence in the English original, do try to clarify this (by asking a friend or colleague, or contacting us) before going ahead and guessing what might be meant. Otherwise, this may result in a misleading translation and, in worst case, teachers in your country who use your translation as the basis of their classwork may end up teaching students incorrect facts. Therefore, please be considerate in your translations.

If you find that an article is too complicated for you to translate after all, do contact us and swap it for an easier article of your choice. This is much better than receiving a badly translated article or no translation at all, which is frustrating all round.

Comments and suggestions by the translator

You are very welcome to make comments on the article or suggestions for improvements or further resources to include. However, please send us these suggestions in an email and do not add them to the translated article itself. If you do suggest additions, please also provide a translation for the term 'translator's comment' in your language, which we will need if we decide to keep your addition.

Copyediting / quality of translations

As we are not able to copyedit translations and check their quality, we strongly encourage you to carefully check your text for spelling and grammatical errors. Ideally, you will ask a friend or colleague to do this for you, as a fresh pair of eyes will spot mistakes more easily.

How to deal with names

Please do not translate or change the names of people mentioned in the articles. If you need to transliterate a person's name (if the language you are translating into does not use the Latin alphabet), make sure you include the original name (in the Latin alphabet) in brackets the first time it is mentioned in the main text.

If you translate the names of institutions / organisations / projects etc., make sure you include the original name in brackets.

Gender sensitivity and (in)formal address

We would like to encourage our translators to use gender sensitive language where appropriate. However, we leave it to your discretion which specific form to use to reflect that in your language.

Some languages have a formal and an informal address (i.e. 'you' translates e.g. into Du / Ihr / Sie, tu / voi / Lei, tu / vosotros / Usted / Ustedes). We trust you to choose which form is most appropriate when, e.g. in teaching activity articles which may address the teacher in one part of the article and the students in another.

Translating the references and resources section

In the references, web references and resources sections, do not translate references for books or articles. The title should remain in the original language (mostly English), unless the work is also published in the language into which you are translating (in which case, if you mention the version in that language, please also include the correct details for the translated version, e.g. publisher, publication year, ISBN etc). If you do wish to give the translated title of the publication although it is not available in your language, please enclose it in brackets after the original title. Do translate the town + country of the book's publishers though (e.g. 'Munich, Alemania: BLV' instead of 'Munich, Germany: BLV').

Using our standard terms

To ensure consistency, we use a range of standard terms in all our English original articles. To maintain this consistency in other languages, particularly between translations performed by different translators into the same language, it is important that you use our list of standard terms. These terms are used mainly in the references and resources sections of articles, but also in image credits and (at the beginning of each article) for 'translated by'. The list describes the terms themselves and the context in which they are used. Please use the terms in all appropriate parts of your translation.

In this example translation in PDF format, the translator has used the correct standard terms in all appropriate instances (highlighted). Please take a look at it before you start using the list of standard terms. Note that not all standard terms will be relevant for each article.

Download the list of standard terms in PDF or Excel format (please keep checking back that you are working with the latest version as these files are frequently being updated - the current version is from 16 April 2013). Note that you will have to zoom in on the PDF file after downloading it to be able to read it properly.

We rely on your help to keep our translations accurate. You will notice that we are still missing translated standard terms for a number of languages. If this is the case for your language, or if you disagree with any of the suggested standard terms in the list, we are looking forward to your input (please contact us at

Common errors made by translators

Please be aware of the following common errors made by translators.

Not maintaining the correct formatting

Here, the translator failed to put ‘selective pressure’ in bold:


Not translating the referee’s / institute's country of origin

Because this was part of a French translation, 'Greece' should have been translated to 'Grèce':


The same often happens where the country is given after the name of an institute, e.g. "Bristol University, UK" - you don't need to translate the name of the institute, but the country, added after a comma, has to be translated.

Not translating ‘here’

In the references section, the word ‘here’ is often made into a hyperlink. Care should therefore be taken to ensure it is translated:


Useful links for translators

When translating our articles, you may find it helpful to use tools that can assist you in finding the right words. Please check how well they work though, and do rely on your own judgment and that of your friends and colleagues who help you proofread your translations.

Our Dutch translator Piet Das recommends LINGOES, a freely downloadable easy and intuitive dictionary and text translation software which offers lookup dictionaries, full text translation, translation of selected text and pronunciation of words in over 80 languages.

We strongly discourage you from using the full text translation function - as we strongly discourage you from using any full text translation function, such as Google translate, for the purposes of translating our articles - but the dictionary and translation function for selected words in LINGOES can indeed be very helpful.

German translators may want to try using LEO, a free online dictionary with a well-used forum for translators, in which trickier cases are being discussed.

Return to top of page

Support the print journal

Learn more

Menu - My Account

Science in School e-newsletter