We spend a lot of time talking about client education from the perspective of the translation and post-translation processes (e.g., editing, formatting, design, proofreading). The Global English Style Guide looks at the writing process for technical documentation before any translation takes place. It seeks to answer the following questions. How can we effectively use English to communicate with readers around the globe and how can we improve the quality of English source texts to facilitate translation and thus improve the quality of translated target texts?

In the first chapter, the author John R. Kohl introduces the concept of Global English, defining it as:

“… written English that an author has optimized for a global audience by following guidelines that go beyond what is found in conventional style guides.

The Global English guidelines focus on the following goals:

  • eliminating ambiguities that impede translation
  • eliminating uncommon non-technical terms and unusual grammatical constructions that non-native speakers (even those who are quite fluent in English) are not likely to be familiar with
  • making English sentence structure more explicit and therefore easier for non-native speakers (as well as native speakers) to analyze and comprehend
  • eliminating unnecessary inconsistencies”.

In subsequent chapters Kohl provides plenty of practical advice on writing technical documentation that is more readable for non-native readers and ensuring that documents for translation (human or machine) are clearer and more consistent, leading to target texts that are similarly higher in quality. To decide whether this is something you need, take a look at other book reviews online or check out the slides from one of the author’s presentations, at: https://www.slideshare.net/acrolinx/intro-to-global-english-john-kohl-sas

Chapter 2 Conforming to Standard English

Chapter 3 Simplifying Your Writing Style

Chapter 4 Using Modifiers Clearly and Carefully

Chapter 5 Making Pronouns Clear and Easy to Translate

Chapter 6 Using Syntactic Cues

Chapter 7 Clarifying -ING Words

Chapter 8 Punctuation and Capitalization

Chapter 9 Eliminating Undesirable Terms and Phrases

Technical writers and those involved in preparing documents for translation from English will benefit most from reading this book. Translators working into English too, can learn a lot from the universal advice in The Global English Style Guide.


Kohl, John R. (2008) The Global English Style Guide: Writing Clear, Translatable Documentation for a Global Market. SAS Institute/SAS Publishing. Kindle Edition.

ISBN: 978-1-59994-842-3 (electronic book)

ISBN: 978-1-59994-657-3

PS: I can't wait to get my hands on this!
世界に通じるメディカルライティング―ネイティブライターが伝授する3Cs English by Lee Seaman and Tom Lang

Tony Atkinson