How much will it cost to translate my Spanish (or French, Italian, German, Chinese, Arabic, etc.) letter?

There are so many variables that go into the cost of a translation project, that we can’t provide ballpark figures for “a 10 page contract”, for example. A highly formatted document like a FrameMaker manual is going to cost more than a simple Word document. If your file contains graphics with text, those have to be taken into consideration. A “10 page contract” could be 3 columns of 7 pt. font or it could be double spaced outline style. Since we charge by the word, we really have to be able to see the document in order to provide an accurate quote. We are happy to provide a free translation quote within one business day if you just fill out our estimate form or email us the particulars of your job. A Project Manager will get back to you within one business day with a price for your project.

Does Arabic (or Chinese, or Korean) cost more than Spanish? And why?

Yes, Arabic technical translation does cost more than Spanish technical translation. This is the market at work: there are many more Spanish language translators than Arabic. Plus, Arabic presents font and formatting issues not found with Spanish translation. Generally, the more expensive the per-word rate for a language, the lower the volume of translation worldwide in that language.

Is translation done by human translators or by a machine?

We always use human translators, who translate into their native languages. We do use Computer Assisted Translation, essentially a “memory” tool which works in the background as a human translator works. Each sentence that is translated is “remembered” by the software. So, if that sentence comes up again within a file, or in a future file, the software will let the translator know how it was translated the last time. This maintains consistency throughout your documentation over time. It saves our clients a lot of money, and time, when we work on manual updates or version changes.

How should I submit my documents for translation (or quote)?

We have an easy form to fill out and submit here. Fill out the form completely and provide as much information about your documentation as possible. We will provide a free quote within one business day. If you can send us the file, we can provide an accurate quote. Without seeing the file, only an approximate estimate can be made. Because the cost for technical translation is based on the word count, we can provide an accurate price quote only with an electronic copy of the file. Most software has a word count function and this is the number we use to put an estimate together, and to invoice you for your project.

What is your Project Management fee?

We do not charge a Project Management fee. Our prices include translation and independent edit. We do charge hourly for DTP work (Desktop Publishing) and graphic work. We have to see the electronic file(s) to be able to estimate these charges.

Are there ways to make my documents easier to translate?

Whole books have been written on this question. One of the best: “International Technical Communication” by Nancy L. Hoft.

How long does translation take?

A good technical translator can translate about 2,000 words per day. An editor can proofread about 4,000 words per day. Desktop Publishing (formatting) can take a few hours – or many days. Every translation project is unique and timeframe will vary based on many factors:

Technical Level – Ten pages of Technical Specifications for Dense Wave Division Multiplexing equipment will take longer than a 10-page Assembly Manual for a bicycle. The more technical a file’s subject matter is, the longer it will take to translate.

Word count – A 3-page patent which is typed in a very small font size in 3-column format is going to contain a lot more words than a double-spaced 3-page business letter. More words equals more time required.

Graphics – Does your file contain graphics with callouts that need to be translated? Are the graphics easy to edit? Do you have the electronic copy of the graphics to supply to us? If there are a lot of graphics with a lot of text inside, it is time consuming work for a translator to open the graphics file and translate the text while maintaining the graphic integrity of your drawings.

Format – Translations International can work in any file format. But keep in mind that a manual in QuarkXPress is going to take longer than a manual in Microsoft Word. Our Project Managers are certified in these programs to make sure your translated files have the same quality as your original English files.

Translators – As mentioned above, the average speed of a good technical translator is about 2,000 words per day. Some work faster, and some slower. Some work on weekends, some will not. Some work more than 8 hours per day, some will not without additional charges. Our job is to find the best translator for your project, based on subject expertise and scheduling needs. Sometimes, we may take longer than usual on a particular project, because the best translator for your subject matter may not be available to start right away.

Once we see your electronic files, we’ll be able to provide you with a free translation quote including cost and timeframe.

Do you count words like 'the', 'an', and numbers when considering the word count in a document?

Yes, our invoices are based on the electronic word count of the target (translated) file. This is the industry standard, and really the only way that is fair and consistent for charging. There are some exceptions. We have a client who sends financial statements in different languages to be translated into English. The files are usually hard copy and faxed to us. The English is typed into an Excel sheet without the numbers. That way, the client just finds out what the text says, and can use the original hard copy for reference to the numbers.

What if my customer doesn't like the translation?

We are more than happy to work hand-in-hand with your customer from the beginning of every technical translation project. Our job is to find the best technical translator: a professional who knows your industry, and your products or services. But even though our translator may be an expert on the subject, he still may not use the words your client prefers. People quite often use different, synonymous words to express the same concept. This is why we compile a technical glossary before your translation begins. If your client approves of this basic list of terms from the beginning, then we’ve won half the battle. For a long technical manual, we can submit chapters as they are translated for client review. The final user makes whatever changes he thinks are necessary, which will be taken into consideration by our translators for later chapters. In some cases, we can arrange to have our translator meet in person with your customers, regardless of where on the globe they are located. We’re not happy until your customer is happy.

If we agree to pay twice as much, can we get our translation twice as fast?

No, unfortunately, it’s not a money issue. It simply comes down to time. We can do a rush job under some circumstances, but paying us more is not going to make the impossible come true. Each project is taken on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes we can offer a rush translation, and sometimes we can’t.

What is the difference between translation and interpretation?

Translators work with the written word. Interpreters work with speech. Although we specialize in technical translation, we also offer telephone interpretation service with access to 150 languages, anytime and anywhere.

Read more about our Telephone Interpretation solution.