ANSI Signal Words

If you translate technical texts, I am pretty sure you already came across words such as “Danger”, “Warning”, “Caution” or “Notice”. At least in Portuguese documents I have been finding quite a few different wordings for these signal words, which is not exactly a good thing.

Signal words are mainly used in user manuals as well as in signs. They refer to situations where the user is advised to behave in a way that avoids dangers or requires special attention to a particular detail. Each signal word implies a certain degree of severity, therefore they have an underlying symbolic color.

Luckily, a few years ago my Internet diggings led me to a table developed on behalf of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) by a Canadian translation company called Parenty Reitmeier. Since then, I have been using the signal words consistently in my translations, and have been persuading my clients for the need of harmonizing these short but paramount words. By publishing it here I hope I can contribute to the spreading of the correct use of these terms.

Thank you very much for the permission to publish your table in my blog, Lynn!

ANSI Signal words1ANSI Signal words2