Micro-copywriting and translation: the holy grail of small expressions

Combining micro-copywriting and translation will make your content stand out. More and more companies are becoming aware of how important it is to look after content, the words we use in our statements. Jobs such as content strategist or content designer are now established in the most leading companies in the UK. The figure of the micro-copywriter (or UX writer) is gaining importance.

Does this ring a bell? Don’t worry if it doesn’t, most people think the name of this job is the title of a science-fiction film. We will explain what micro-copywriting is, and why the combination of micro-copywriting and translation is so useful to add more value to your content.


What is micro-copywriting?

Micro-copywriting (or UX writing) is, what its name suggests: the practice of making the small details great. It humanizes our brand. When we talk about copywriting, we always refer to large texts, in a general context, right? We talk about copywriting blogs, or how to write web sections or advertising brochures, but we don’t look at all the complete messages around us.

We tend to think that an entire speech is long: if we speak about a text, we think of an opinion piece, a Wikipedia entry or a chapter in a book, right? However, this is a story: “When I woke up, the dinosaur was still there”. This is The Dinosaur by the great Augusto Monterroso, and it’s often said that it’s the shortest story in the world. And yes, a story is a complete discourse: it has intention, a beginning, middle and end.




The Internet is full of messages this short, but their intention is usually to achieve interaction with the user who is reading them. Still unsure what we’re talking about? It’s simple, we’re talking about headlines, the subjects in our emails, the subscription buttons or the anchor text that leads to chart in an online store.

Creating a good message that engages the user and makes their experience on our website or app memorable is exactly what we are aiming for with micro-copywriting. Knowing how to do this in different international markets is to go to the next level: from micro-copywriting to translation.


Micro-copywriting and translation: sensitive contexts in a nutshell

To talk about micro-copywriting and translation is to talk about understanding very specific contexts. Many micro-copywriting texts (and texts in general) are embedded in a larger environment, but they are decisive within it. A good email marketing subject line will get a user to open an email, and a button that generates trust and is easy to use will get someone to subscribe to a newsletter.

There are two key points where micro-copywriting and translation interact, and if we do this effectively, we will be just as effective in other languages when it comes to globalisation.

The micro-context: internal context of the text

Good micro-copywriting considers all modes of expression, meanings, tones, of the general discourse it is in. Therefore, the title of a web page will have the same degree of formality as the content of the page.

It’s not consistent to use an informal “you” and then use exclamations in the title if the tone is informative and formal within the page, right? Ensuring that this consistency is also transferred when translating a website for example, is essential to ensure everything works well.

The macro-context: broader cultural context

When translating, we adapt conventions from one culture to another. Following the example of the treatment formulas, talking about the formal “you” does not have the same degree of formality in traditional Spanish as in Portuguese from Brazil.

There are some cultures where the imperative has different uses to other cultures. In Spanish, for example, we use courtesy when ordering things at a table that in English take the imperative form, (Can you pass me the salt versus Pass me the salt, please)

And if we change the English form, depending on the context, it can be rude (imagine saying “pass the salt” to someone on the first day you have lunch at your new job!

Try to adapt your UX writing, as these will mostly be managerial speaking acts (asking the audience to do something) and these vary greatly between cultures.


Combining micro-copywriting and translation will take you far

In the era where copywriting is integrated into marketing, the next step is looking after our communication: write for the user. You know, there are some messages that, although small, have a special relevance.

Having a strategy around them will make us stand out. Of course, there is another step: combining micro-copywriting and translation. And at Ontranslation we can help you take it.

The details matter. Make sure your international content marketing and globalisation are successful!

About the author

Oscar Nogueras

Es el CEO de Ontranslation y dedica algunos ratos libres a escribir en este blog para compartir sus conocimientos sobre internacionalización, cross-border ecommerce y Traducción SEO. No es para menos, ya que entre su formación cuenta con una licenciatura en filología inglesa, un máster en tradumática, un posgrado en elearning y un MBA. En definitiva, una declaración de intenciones donde la cultura y los idiomas se sirven mezclados, no agitados.

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