How much will my translation cost?

stack of ianguage dictionaries

Shopping with my mother when I was a child, she taught me a firm (though not always helpful) lesson.  If it doesn’t have the price on it, we can’t afford it.

While that might have been somewhat shaky financial education, it does make a point.  Before we buy – whether a product or service – we want, and need, to know what something costs.

All professional translators should give you a clear quotation for their work before you commission them to translate your documents, but how do you know what to expect and whether their price is fair?

Here’s my short guide to how translation pricing works:


1. HOW TRANSLATION IS PRICED

Translators use various models for pricing their work:

  • Per word – This is currently the most usual pricing model for European languages. You’ll pay a price per word of your original document.
  • Per line/per page/per character – for some languages, translations are often priced per ‘standard line’, per ‘standard page’ or per character of the original document (eg. when the original document is in German – which generally has longer words than English).
  • Per hour – sometimes a translator will give you a ‘per hour’ price with an estimate of the number of hours required. This can be a fair way of pricing when a lot of additional research is required.
  • Per project – on occasion a ‘per project’ price may be more appropriate for you and your translator, for example if you need a combination of translation and design.

2. FACTORS THAT IMPACT PRICING

various language dictionaries

The Language

Don’t be surprised to discover that there are different prices for translating different languages. For example, English into Japanese translation will generally cost more than French into English translation. Factors influencing these price variations include the availability/scarcity of translators and the particular challenges involved in translating certain language combinations.

I translate French into English and Esperanto, and English in and out of Esperanto. If you need another combination contact me and I’ll put you in touch with one of my trusted colleagues who will be able to help.

The translator

Qualifications

Quality costs. As in most fields, you’ll pay more for a properly qualified and accredited translator. But can your business really afford for you to settle for less? Useful questions to consider are:

  • Is your translator qualified, not just in the languages they speak, but in translation itself?
  • Do they belong to a professional association (such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists or the Institute of Translation and Interpreting) and adhere to their codes of practice?
  • Does your translator do regular Continuing Professional Development activities to keep their language, translation and business skills up-to-date?
Chartered Institute of Linguists Member badge
Institute of Translation and interpreting member banner
CPD achieved 202-2021 badge
world globe

Location

Translators who live in countries where the cost of living is low will often be able to charge less for a translation. If you’re tempted by this, make sure that you check a couple of things. Is the translator qualified/experienced enough to be entrusted with your business document? Are they bound by a code of conduct? Do they have correct confidentiality policies and data protection in place? And if they don’t live in a country where the language they’re translating into is spoken, what are they doing to make sure that their language and business skills are up to date?

The Document

Length

The longer the document, the more it will usually cost. Sometimes translators will be able to give slightly discounted rates for some types of longer documents.

Terminology

As we translate, we’re checking and verifying terminology as we go along.  Even when a translator is working in their specialist fields, they are constantly checking and verifying their use of words.  Sometimes if your document has particularly specialised terminology, the translator will have to spend more time on research and often this means that they will need to charge a slightly higher rate. This is why I’ll ask to see a sample of the document before giving you a quotation, to make sure that it is accurate and fair for us both.

Format

If your document is in an unusual format, or has lots of images or complicated layout, the work may take longer and the cost may be higher.  

Deadline

Very tight deadlines that mean a translator has to work outside of their normal working hours will often incur a higher rate.


3. MY GUIDE PRICES

When you ask me to quote for a translation, I like to give you clear information, so that you can make an informed decision about whether I’m the right translator for you. I’ll look carefully at every text that you need translated and give you a detailed quotation showing cost and deadline.

Translations that you commission from me will almost always be priced according to the number of words in your document.  French to English specialist business translations start at £0.12 per word of your original document.  (So if you have a 1,000-word document, you’ll pay from £120 for a French to English translation.)  I also translate from French to Esperanto and from Esperanto in and out of English at the same price.

If you need specialist business proofreading, prices start at £35 per hour and I will always give you an accurate estimate and maximum price before starting work.


READY TO TALK?

Hopefully that’s given you some background information about how translators will price your project. You’ll find that qualified translators who follow professional codes of practice will always be happy to answer all your questions when you’re wondering whether to place work with them. Don’t be afraid to ask!

Have a question or want to discuss a project?  Let’s talk.

5 Ways a Human Translator can help your business

Mistranslated Menu

You want your overseas customers to understand your product offer; you want your employees abroad to follow company best practice, you want to connect with professionals in your field – Google translate, right? No! Google translate, and other machine translation solutions, can be great for getting the general gist of something you don’t understand in another language, but for your precious business image, you’re going to need an actual human.

Here are 5 ways a translator can help you:

A translator can help you BUILD TRUST

It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to get someone to buy your product or adhere to internal company procedures, communicating with them in their native language immediately builds trust.

…Roughly 72% of consumers spent the majority of their time online visiting websites in their first language. The same number of people also state that they are more inclined to make a purchase if the product info is in a familiar dialect. (textappeal.com)

Tell me more

A translator can help you avoid MAJOR mistakes

You may have heard the now well-worn story of how when Pepsi Cola first tried to tap into the Chinese market, their upbeat slogan “Come alive with Pepsi“ was translated literally as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead”. Or how Electrolux tried to introduce its vacuum cleaners to the US with the branding “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”

You may not be a Pepsi Cola or an Electrolux, but bad translation can still damage your customers’ trust, potentially compromise your employees’ safety and generally make you look a bit daft.

Translators know your target country and culture inside-out and we’ll help you make sure that slogans and brand names work there. 

Tell me more

A translator can help you avoid MINOR mistakes

We’ve all come across the adverts, social media posts or company reports that are so full of errors it makes us want to immediately take a red pen to it. Some people are more sensitive to this than others, but you really don’t want to take risks with your public-facing copy. You need correct spelling, grammar, typesetting and punctuation.

Did you know that punctuation varies from language to language? Your translator will sort this all out for you.

Whether it’s a website, brochure, staff manual or annual report, very few people will read your copy as carefully as your translator and we’ll alert you to anything that doesn’t seem to ‘flow’ in your original.

Tell me more

A translator can help you keep things CONSISTENT

No doubt you’ve worked hard to create a consistent brand ‘voice’, whether for internal or external publications. A translator will be aiming to create the same consistency in the language they’re working in to keep your image cohesive and coherent across your markets and sites. We can also help you create an in-house glossary.

Having an in-house glossary for all the languages you work in helps keep your company documents consistent and cohesive whoever authors them.

Tell me more

A translator can help you with your multilingual SEO

Businesses of all sizes know how important SEO strategy is. Don’t forget that if some of your customers are searching for you in a different language, then you need your translated online content to be optimized in that language too. Many translators can help you with multilingual SEO, so ask us for advice.

Tell me more

Read more:

Translation: Getting it Right – A Guide to Buying Translation

The Impact of Language Barriers on Trust Formation in Multinational Teams