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How to Ensure a Successful Translation Project


For the uninitiated, translation services are one of those things that many people may have heard of, but don’t really give much thought to until they need it. This of course is natural, as there are many other things to think about throughout the course of a busy day. However, when the time comes when your boss, company head, or even yourself requires an item to be translated, it may leave you a little confused about the process, what it entails, and what you should do to ensure it all goes smoothly.

If that is the case, do not worry. I will provide you with the basics of professional translation services and what you should know as someone who is ordering translation services for the first time.

What are Translation Service Providers?

When you are in need of translation, the best recourse would be to hire a professional Translation Service Provider to handle your project.

Translation Service Providers (TSP’s) are companies dedicated to providing professional quality translations based on their client’s specifications.   TSP’s work with their clients to review documents, audio files, website files, or whatever material s that need to be translated, and procure a properly trained professional translator (with any special knowledge required) to handle their translation task.   They are responsible for ensuring a timely delivery, and abide by strict non-disclosure agreements in case the material being translated is private, legal, or has personal information included.



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What to expect when working with a Translation Service Provider

When you contact a TSP, you will more than likely be requesting a quote prior to placing an order.   You will supply the TSP with the required document(s) and the sales representative will review it and provide you with a quote for a complete translation. Depending on how large your document is and the type of format, you should expect a quote within an hour or two from most TSP’s.

The following is a breakdown of how a TSP may charge you:

  • Translation: Translations are usually based on either word count or by page, depending on the type of document you provide. If it is an audio file, translation is usually based on a per-minute rate.
  • Formatting: If a document requires a lot of formatting (If the original is in an un-editable format and needs to be reconstructed), or if it is in a program such as Illustrator, InDesign, or Photoshop the TSP may charge you a formatting fee. Usually this is charged per page but is at the discretion of the TSP how they charge and for which types of documents.
  • Rushed Order: Translators usually work at a rate of about 2,000 words per day. Dividing your total word count by that amount provides you with an estimated delivery time for a standard translation project. However, sometimes the need arises for a faster turnaround time. It may still be possible to meet your desired deadline, however many TSP’s will charge you an additional fee for rushed orders. This is because most TSP’s will assign your project to one translator to ensure consistency in word choice throughout the document. Therefore, rushed projects would require translators to work overtime, thusly increasing their rates.   Additionally, depending on the language you are translating into, many translators work remotely from their native language country, so their time zones may vary greatly from the time you place the order. For rushed projects, they may have to wake up and work throughout the night to ensure your project is completed on time.
  • Certification: If you require a legal translation (birth certificates, passports, legal documents, etc.) you most likely require a certified translation. Certified translations include a certification page which is stamped and signed by a registered notary which certifies that the translation provided is a true and accurate representation of the original. TSP’s may or may not charge you for this service, or they may have a special standard rate for certified translations.

Now that you have a better idea about what’s involved with ordering translation services from a professional Translation Service Provider, I will explain the ways in which you, as a client, can help reduce the time and cost (and possibly stress) involved in a translation assignment, and how you can ensure your translation project is a success.

5 Ways to Help Ensure Your Translation Runs Smoothly and On Budget

  • Don’t Wait to Order Translation Services! Possibly the most important piece of advice. Quite often, businesses will hold off ordering translation services until the last moment. Either because they are unaware of the time it takes to translate and format the documents properly, it doesn’t occur to them that they need translation services until the last minute, they hold off to see if they really require translation or not, or they must simply wait until their Accounts Payable department confirms the budget. Whatever the case may be, it is often a common occurrence where a business calls up at 4:00pm with an urgent project of 5,000+ words needing to be translated and formatted by the next day.

If at all possible, don’t wait until the last minute to order translation services.   Not only could it significantly increase the price of the project, but it puts a lot of stress on the translator to finish the translation on time, which could unfortunately result in a less than perfect translation. If you know you must order translation services, and even if you must wait for the ‘go-ahead from Corporate’, plan ahead with your TSP so that they can schedule the translation with their translator. That way they will be able to plan accordingly to complete your translation on time.

  • Gather all necessary materials, including original documents. Many items that require translation (like company brochures, manuals, advertisements, documents, etc.) were created originally in programs such as Illustrator, InDesign, or even Microsoft Word. However, you may have only been given a copy of it in PDF or even just a JPEG image if it is an advertisement.   If possible, ask the appropriate person or department if the original documents are available to send to the TSP. While it’s still possible to work from a PDF and JPEG, it’s much harder and time consuming to re-create the proper formatting in Word, and in the case of brochures or any item with images, it is much more difficult to have the completed item look as good as the original. Plus, you might be able to avoid a formatting fee if you are able to provide the original document, as it’s much easier to format that way.


  • Review the original document and finalize PRIOR to sending it for translation. Prior to sending your document for translation, review it first to make sure:
  1. The version you are sending is the correct one
  2. The document isn’t cut off, or missing any parts
  3. It is proofread for errors
  4. It is the true and final form to be translated

Sometimes in an effort to save time, companies may end up sending a document to be translated, only to update it later on because they noticed an error, or forgot to include something, or even simply changed the text altogether. However, while this may seem like you are saving time by “getting the ball rolling”, it can lead to lost time as the translator must go back and re-translate parts.   Depending on the types of edits, this may also lead to a lot of confusion and could possibly affect the final outcome of the translation.

  • Supply any necessary supporting documents, such as glossaries, related texts or past translations. For consistency sake, be sure to send any reference documents (labeled as such) along with your document to be translated.   Just like English, language is very subjective in other languages as well. There are multiple ways to say the same thing, and how a translator may have translated a document previously may not be how a new translator translates it. Neither are wrong, however. There are just different word choices that could be used. So if you do require consistency with past translations, be sure to include a glossary or a past translation for reference so that the new translator will know which word choices to use.
  • Review your finished translation for errors and go back to TSP with any revisions that need to be made. Many times when translating from one language to another, there can be issues with the spelling of names, formatting of dates, etc.   While it is the job of the TSP to review the finished translations before delivery, it never hurts to have a second pair of eyes go over it. Especially when it comes to the spelling of names from a foreign language into English. If there is a particular way you would like the name to be spelled, be sure to let the TSP know. Likewise, in many foreign countries, the date is formatted with the day first, followed by the month (the opposite of the US). So be sure to check if the date’s formatting has been changed appropriately.   Any issues you come across after the review will be corrected by the TSP at no additional charge.

Now that you know more about the process of translation and the role of Translation Service Providers, you can rest assured you will be up to the task of handling translation projects for you company (or for yourself) successfully .   If you still have questions regarding the process, feel free to call sales representative at an established Translation Service Provider such as Translation Cloud .

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