If you’re using a translation service for the first time, it is useful to know the factors that affect the price of a translation. When asking for a quote, you may want to consider the following:
- The length or volume of a text
- Whether human or machine translation will best serve your needs
- The language combination
- Whether you need translation only or a more complete service of translation + editing + proofreading
- If your documents are technical or non-technical
- The possibility of using Computer-Assisted Tools to streamline translations
- A requirement for Desktop Publishing (DTP) services alongside translation
- Whether the translated documents need to be certified
- The timescale
Here’s an in-depth guide to the various factors affecting translation services prices.
The length of a text is an obvious consideration when preparing a quote, with longer texts taking more time to translate. Traditionally translation for standard texts is quoted on a per word basis, and this rate can sometimes be negotiated on longer texts.
However, where transcreation (marketing translation that combines copywriting and translation) is required – for example, to convert a slogan or tagline for a new market – this will be quoted on a project rather than on a per word basis. The small number of words in a slogan does not show the work involved in crafting a compelling transcreation to motivate a new target to take action.
Human versus machine translation
Human translation is far superior to machine translation in terms of accuracy, style, tone and register. For a marketing text, an experienced native translator will be able to craft an engaging translation that reflects your brand values while also building trust with the target market through a profound understanding of its culture and motivations.
However, when you have a text you simply need to be deciphered for your general understanding, machine translation may be a suitable option. Machine translation does not contain the same subtleties of register and tone as human translation but will give you a broad understanding of the contents of a document.
Machine translation texts are usually post-edited by human translators to weed out errors and ensure accuracy. It is a more cost-effective option than human translation.
A good language service provider can advise on the type of translation that better suits your needs.
Specific language combination
The language combination of a text affects translation services prices. Spanish into English and vice versa are popular language combinations for example and will be easier to source than a text that is being translated from, say, Finnish into Vietnamese.
This means certain language combinations may be more expensive than others. For extremely rare combinations, texts are occasionally translated into a more well-known language like English initially, and then again into the target language.
Translation only versus translation + editing + proofreading
A full translation, editing and proofreading service will deliver the best results. Texts are translated initially by one translator and then edited and proofread by a second. A review through a new pair of eyes brings an additional layer of quality and polish.
Even if you work with an experienced translator, editing and proofreading will elevate your copy. With this level of service, you will receive a flawless translation that you can go ahead and publish on your website or use in your marketing materials immediately.
Taking into account your quality requirements, budget and the amount of time available, a simple translation may serve your needs.
Technical vs non-technical translation
If you work in a specialized area like medicine, the automotive industry or finance, you will require a specialized translator with in-depth domain knowledge to convey terms accurately and observe industry conventions in terms of style and register.
Medical documents, for example, often contain acronyms that must be translated accurately, while technical documents like automotive manuals require an underlying understanding of the methods described to avoid any errors.
Quotes for highly technical texts can be more costly due to the specialist knowledge required. Specialist translators are experienced linguists who also often have qualifications and professional experience of disciplines like law or medicine.
Computer-Assisted translations and repetitions
Specialized translation software known as Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools have become the norm in the translation industry. CAT Tools bring cost efficiencies to translation services prices and also deliver consistency to your text, for example by ensuring your preferred terms are used throughout.
CAT Tools also streamline the translation process by eliminating the need for set phrases to be re-translated. This is reflected in the quote due to the time saved.
Desktop Publishing (DTP) services
Desktop Publishing (DTP) adapts graphics and other visual elements in the target language of your choice. Using DTP, you can therefore recreate all the graphics of materials such as eBooks or brochures, meaning your documents are ready to be published immediately.
This skilled work can be priced into a quote as a supplementary service.
There is a strong demand for official documents to be translated and certified by an appropriately accredited translator. A reputable translation agency will be familiar with the certification requirements of different countries so you can be assured your translation will meet administrative requirements with the correct use of certifying stamps etc.
Do you need your translation urgently? Urgent translations can be completed but this is often at a premium. When planning your translation needs it is best to bear in mind that the urgency of a translation will have an impact on the translation services price.
For the most competitive quote, it is best to give as much notice as possible of your translation deadline so it can be scheduled with plenty of time.
Now you have the low-down on translation services prices, you should be able to pick your translation service and provider with confidence. If you have any questions, contact us and we will be pleased to help you.