Everything you need to know about translating annual reports

Annual reports are an important part of a company’s communication strategy. They are aimed at a broad readership, with shareholders, suppliers, clients, investors, analysts, regulatory and tax authorities, rating agencies, media representatives and many other interested parties poring over them at length. Even the slightest of errors can have serious consequences for a company since an annual report is also a key legal document. The information published therein must be checked and double checked to ensure it’s accurate and legally compliant.


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Annual reports are flagship publications that give companies an opportunity to present themselves in a particular light. There are even awards for annual reports, with panels of experts choosing the best ones in different categories. Several of the companies listed at the top of the Swiss ranking for 2023 are clients of Apostroph Group. And we have to mention the Annual Report Symposium, where prestigious speakers offer insight and inspiration on the topic of annual reports.


Carefully crafted text

The following points are part and parcel of your craft as a translator, but they’re more important than ever when you’re working on an annual report translation:

  • Correct and consistent terminology (specialist terms and client’s preferred terms)
  • Compliance with accounting standards (IFRS, Swiss GAAP FER, US GAAP, Basel III)
  • Accurate numbers (double and triple checked)
  • Correct and consistent number formatting (especially for currencies)

Translating annual reports takes more than just language skills, care and precision. It’s a huge help if you can also draw on expertise in finance and bookkeeping/accounting and you know your way around the client’s industry.

Dictionaries are your friend when it comes to getting the terminology right. Here are a few examples for German:

  • Dietl/Lorenz: Dictionary of Law, Commerce and Politics (DE-EN)
  • Doucet/Fleck: Dictionnaire juridique et économique (DE-FR)
  • Zanichelli: Dizionario economico finanziario e commerciale (DE-IT)

On top of the standard specialist terminology, the client is likely to have their own preferred terms that they want you to use in your translation.

TOP TIP: You might find that the client’s preferred terminology doesn’t match the standard specialist terminology. Make sure you flag this up in good time so we can tell you how to handle the conflict.

As complex as necessary, as simple as possible

The content of annual reports is complex enough as it is. That’s why the style has to be just right. Try to write clearly and simply, avoiding overly flowery language. Steer clear of repetition to keep the text varied and interesting. This strategy will improve readability – and impress the client!

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