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How to manage queries like a pro: Essential tips


How to manage queries like a pro: Essential tips

As I prepared my presentation for the BP conference, I thought: What better time than now to share some query management tips with you?

You might think, “Asking questions—doesn’t it show that I don’t know what I’m doing?”

Quite the opposite!

Asking the right questions at the right time is not a sign of weakness; it is a hallmark of professionalism and a reflection of a project being in the most capable of hands:


  • Questioning is key to ensuring quality.


  • Clients (should) appreciate translators who are thorough enough to ask for clarifications.

So, how do you go about asking those questions?

You develop a query system that's as elegant as it is efficient—simple to use, capable of being delivered and answered in batches, and that allows for checking past queries and marking queries as solved.

Using an online tool like Google Sheets can streamline this process, allowing for instant access and collaboration and avoiding multiple versions of a document. It's important to use it to ask clear and concise questions (ideally structured to be answered with a 'yes' or 'no'), while also offering solutions and being ready to engage in follow-up queries if necessary.

However, don’t forget about due diligence. Before reaching out, do thorough research. Check the provided reference materials, previous queries, the client’s website, and other relevant sources. This not only shows initiative but may also resolve questions without needing further clarification.

Finally, keep track of all queries. Updating the query status regularly ensures that all questions are answered by the project's end.

Now, what should your query sheet include?

  • Project number

  • Status

  • Date

  • File name

  • Segment/page

  • Source text

  • Proposed translation

  • Question

  • Client feedback

  • Follow-up

Remember what I said about asking the right questions at the right time?


It’s about striking a balance—knowing when to reach out and when to research independently, when to press for clarification, and when to apply your own expertise.

Query management DOs

Query management DON’Ts

  • Use the cloud to create a spreadsheet

  • Encourage its use

  • Add (and use) filters

  • Ask direct questions

  • Offer solutions and suggest alternatives

  • Be respectful and polite

  • Don’t ignore source errors or ambiguities

  • Don’t assume meaning

  • Don’t repeat questions

  • Don’t write vague questions

  • Don’t ask a question before doing your own research

  • Don’t hide or delete questions

Keep it precise, keep it clear, and keep it moving forward—one well-placed question at a time. That's the essence of good query management—and good translation.

 

What do you think?

I've covered my strategy for managing queries effectively. Now, I’d love to hear from you.


What are your go-to techniques for handling questions?

 

Do you have any tips or tools that have proven indispensable in your work?

 

Your insights are invaluable, and sharing them could spark inspiration or offer guidance to others in our field.


I’m looking forward to hearing about your experiences and perspectives!


 

Ana Sofia Correia - Medical Translator and Writer

Thank you for reading this issue of Perspectives on Medical Translation & Writing!


Ana Sofia

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