Recommended research resources for translations for Switzerland

You might remember reading about Swissisms and language rules that apply to Swiss German in our last newsletter. We shared a few funny examples of differences between the variants of the language used in Switzerland and Germany. As a follow up, we’re back with some handy hints to help you with your research when you’re working on translations for Swiss clients.

Illustration people researching

You can’t produce a professional translation without doing your research. We know that our freelance partners are seasoned pros, so we have no doubt that you all have some research tips and tricks of your own up your sleeves. Most of you probably turn to Google as your search engine of choice. But do you remember to update the region and language settings? When you’re working on projects for Apostroph, you’ll usually need to head to because almost all of our work is for Swiss clients. We’ll be sure to let you know when we send out the order if that’s not the case for a particular project. You can also change the region to Switzerland under the ‘Search Settings’ on Google (or just click on ‘Current Region’ if you live in Switzerland). Click on ‘Language’ to make sure the search results are displayed in the right language. Updating these settings will make it more likely that the search results you’re shown are relevant for Switzerland specifically.

Screenshot of Google

Switzerland’s multilingualism is a cultural asset and it also makes your life easier when you’re conducting research. For example, government sites are usually available in at least three languages and you know you can trust the terminology. Professional linguists who produce translations for Switzerland are bound to rely heavily on Termdat, the federal administration’s huge terminology database. It should be your first port of call for research for texts of a legal and administrative nature and it can be really helpful for translators working in lots of other fields like education, energy and finance. The Terminology Section also offers courses on terminology on request. If you’re translating

into French or German, the websites for bilingual cantons can also be a handy resource (e.g.,,

If you’re stuck on the terminology in a text relating to criminal law, it might be worth checking out Jurivoc, a trilingual thesaurus provided by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court.

For historical texts and highly specific Swiss content, we recommend you have a look at the Historical Dictionary of Switzerland, a specialist academic resource that is free to access and available in three languages (DE, FR and IT), making it one of a kind. And you can make use of its glossary – the Glossarium Helvetiae Historicum – which contains the correct names of cantons, regions, valleys, mountains, lakes, mountain passes and so much more. The entries also provide historical background information. This website is definitely worth a visit!

If you’re trying to find how company names should be translated (if at all), Switzerland’s Central Business Name Index at should help you out. Just type a company name into the search bar to access the information on record.

Screenshot of Website

Trying searching for Apostroph and you’ll see that our branch in Lausanne is called Apostroph Lausanne SA and not Apostroph Lausanne AG. But there are some companies out there that choose not to translate the AG/SA, so their name stays the same in all languages. You can find out all sorts of information like this on the Zefix site.

Another website we find useful is the multilingual Professional Directory provided by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). It contains professional and academic titles in German, French and Italian – a real lifeline when you’re translating CVs, certificates, job adverts and other HR texts.

About Switzerland provides all kinds of information about Switzerland and it’s all in English. But you do need to bear in mind that this website is pretty old and some of the facts and figures are out of date now. And the terminology is actually incorrect in places. If you proceed with caution, though, it can still be a useful resource for English translators who are in need of a decent overview of Switzerland to inform their translations for Swiss clients. The information in English is divided up into sections – culture, education, politics, economy and so on. Just remember to always double check the terminology on Termdat.

Depending on what exactly you’re translating, you might find that websites for big Swiss companies are another useful resource for your research since they’re often available in multiple languages. You might even get lucky and find one that’s been translated by Apostroph and is bound to be a reliable resource thanks to the outstanding work of our professional freelance partners.

Share your top tips with us

Which tools do you rely on when researching for your work? What are your favourite websites that you can’t live without? Do you have a top tip or two you could share with your fellow translators?

We look forward to your tops and tricks landing in our inbox! Email us at

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