Back Translation: A GuideWho needs back translation?

  • Are you a medical device, pharmaceutical or technical development company that has to obtain regulatory approval to market a product?
  • Are you conducting a multinational clinical trial with a variety of nationalities as your subjects?
  • Are you launching a new drug or medical product overseas?

In all of these cases any inaccuracy in your content could have serious repercussions for the user. They could become ill or in a worst case scenario, there could be life-changing damage or even death.

Inaccuracy is not an option!

What are you doing to ensure that translated text is as accurate as possible? Are you receiving complaints from clients, users or patients? Are you new products being refused regulatory approval?

Then you need to start back translating your translated material back into the source language to check that the translation contains all of the details that are needed and that all of the details are accurate.

Back translation is usually used to comply with a regulatory or legal requirement such as for clinical trials since it is the ideal way of ensuring that patients and consumers are not being given the wrong information from the translated materials made available to them. Back translation is also required as a part of regulatory review processes and is submitted to review boards to confirm promotional and advertising claims.

Case study

A UK based heavy machinery manufacturer had a new product brochure translated for a trade fair in Europe. As the fair progressed they had several clients who had read the new brochure approach them looking concerned. It appeared that the newly translated brochure mentioned that this product had a completely different type of hydraulic system to the previous model.

In fact this was a mistranslation and the hydraulic system was the same.


  • Clients lost confidence in the company
  • Lost orders
  • An expensive reprint of all of the product brochures.

Who, when and why?

Back translation tends to be used by medical device companies, pharmaceutical companies and CROs. However, anyone moving into a new market and translating technical user manuals into a foreign language could make use of this approach to avoid costly and potentially litigious issues further downstream.

Here, at Bath Translations we are very familiar with the back translation process and how to include it within the translation work flow to improve accuracy. If you are in need of a clinical trial document back translation, medical device user manual back translation or just need to quality check important client facing materials, we can help. Our pool of expert linguists have considerable experience in this area.

What are the benefits?

Here are a few significant benefits to using this procedure:

  • Achieving high translation quality assurance
  • Ensuring facts and figures are not missed or misinterpreted in a translation and that all the key points and statistics are quoted
  • Back translation can evaluate and mitigate translational errors prior to publication, which saves time, money and potentially avoids damaging your company’s reputation

Are you looking for high-quality translation services from life-science specialists? Apart from back translation, we at Bath Translations, also specialise in medical document translation, legal document translation, patent translation, business interpreting and court interpreting services to the biotech, life-science, legal and medical sectors. Ready to find out more? Get in touch with us by completing this form or sending us an email at