The ATA Chronicle - September/October 2020 - 32

QUERY SHEET MANAGEMENT FOR PROJECT MANAGERS AND TRANSLATORS continued

QUERY SHEET ETIQUETTE DOS
Create a sheet using the cloud.
Encourage its use.
Add filters.
Ask closed-ended questions.
Phrase questions in a way that's helpful to
the client.
Be polite and respectful.

QUERY SHEET ETIQUETTE DON'TS
Don't hide questions from any participants on
the project.
Don't repeat a question.
Don't write vague comments that will result in
a lot of back and forth.
Don't ask something that you can find out
for yourself.

it fits the target audience? For example,
we could use ___ instead." Phrasing the
query this way offers a possible solution
and positions us as experts. Clients will
appreciate this helpful attitude and it
will save everyone time in the long run.
When possible, I highly recommend
asking closed-ended questions that can
be answered by a simple "yes" or "no."
Clients generally don't have time to
answer something that's not clear and
doesn't allow for a simple answer. By
asking questions clients can answer easily
and quickly, we might obtain the answer
we're looking for faster.
There's No Such Thing as a Stupid
Question, but: This might sound
obvious, but it's important to make
sure we do our due research before
jumping in to ask a question. The first
place to look for an answer would
be the style guide, if the client has
provided one. If the style guide is
comprehensive, it will usually contain
the answer to many of your questions.
Make sure you read it carefully before
using the query sheet. The second
place to look for answers would be the
project instructions. These instructions
could have been provided in the initial
32

The ATA Chronicle | September/October 2020

email with the project assignment or
inside the translation package. I would
say not reading and following the
instructions is one of the most common
mistakes I see linguists make.
The last thing to do before inserting
your question on a query sheet is to
do some online research. Put your
investigative spirit into practice (or as I
like to say, take out the Sherlock Holmes
magnifying glass) and research your query
online, as the answer might be a click
away on a search engine.
By asking questions that were already
checked against the style guide, the
project instructions, and thorough online
searches, you show the client that you're
responsible and trustworthy. You show
that you're a true professional who cares
about quality and is respectful of their
time. On the other hand, don't avoid
asking questions because you don't
want to "bother" the client. Translation
projects usually require linguists to ask
plenty of questions. If translators ask
smart and well thought out questions, it's
a clear indicator that the project is in the
right hands.

By asking questions that were
already checked against the style
guide, the project instructions,
and thorough online searches,
you show the client that you're
responsible and trustworthy.

FOR EVERYONE
Mind Your Manners: This item cannot
be stressed enough. Even if you're
working on the most complicated
project and your patience is being
tested, you should always be polite in
your communication with your peers
and the client. Believe me, I understand
frustration can sometimes run very
high, especially when dealing with
disorganized project management.
However, we must always maintain our

best professional self. When asking a
question, make sure you use "please"
and "thank you." I often see query sheets
with entries such as "What is this?"
There's probably a much better way to
phrase this question, such as "Could
you please provide more context here?"
or "Could you please clarify what this
refers to?" This will make a significant
difference in the way the client perceives
the services you're providing and how
serious you are about the quality of the
work, which will lead to a great working
relationship!
Be Flexible: If done right, query sheets
can be immensely helpful to the success
of a project. However, sometimes they can
fall short, in which case the team might
need to communicate in some other way.
Communication is not a one-size-fits-all
approach. As a team, it's important to have
flexible ways to communicate between
project managers and linguists, from email
to chat to face-to-face video conferencing
when necessary. Make sure you provide,
and are provided, a space to consult
outside the query sheet. The success of
the project will be highly dependent on
the team's ability to communicate well
and work together to accomplish the best
possible quality.
For more information about
collaborative worksheets, I recommend
checking out Google Sheets (www.google.
com/sheets/about), OneDrive (https://bit.ly/
OneDrive-sheets), and www.Monday.com.
Marina Ilari, CT is an ATAcertified English>Spanish
translator with over 15 years
of experience in the translation
industry. She is an expert in
translation tools and managing
projects in English and Spanish. She has worked
as a translator, editor, and quality assurance
specialist for many companies around the world
with a special focus on creative translations and
video game localization. She is the chief executive
officer of Terra Translations and co-host of the
podcast about translation, En Pantuflas. Contact:
marina@terratranslations.com.
www.atanet.org


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