As your business expands into new markets and new territories, inevitably there’ll be a lot of documents that you’ll need to translate to make the process happen seamlessly. There’s a good chance that you’ll need to adapt your operating infrastructure, or at least parts of it, so it can be communicated and run effectively in the new market.
So, how do you budget for this? It’s a big question, without a consistent answer, that we help our clients with every day. Because, while the answer may not be consistent, the factors that determine the cost of your document translation are.
Here, we’ll look at what affects the cost of document translation and the different ways LSPs charge for the service.
What Kind Of Rate Should You Be Dealing With?
Document translation is charged by the word, by the page, by the hour or by the project. There’s no set rule, but here are some reasons why each type of pricing may be used.
Pricing by Word
This is the most common way to pay for document translation. It’s a simple equation and best for when you have pages of straight-forward text (most text is) and a lot of volume.
Savings can be made by using Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools and Translation Memory (TM) that can build databases of translated text, and reuse them, so the more you translate, the more you save.
Pricing by Hour
It sometimes makes sense for LSPs to charge by the hour if there is a lot of research to be done, or other specific elements outside of the word count that need to be factored in.
For example, if it’s public facing marketing or advertising copy, then getting just a handful of words absolutely right is critical to the success of the project.
It may be that translation isn’t accurate enough and actually what’s needed is transcreation. This is adapting content not literally, because it doesn’t make sense in a target language, but maintaining its desired style, tone and intent.
Pricing by Page
This is typically charged for translating documents that might not have a high word count, but that need attention disproportionate to the number of words. We’re talking here about certificates, diplomas and official or legal documents.
We’d suggest steering away from anyone who wants to charge you by the page for normal text because it can vary wildly with font type, font size, margins and the size of page.
Pricing by Project
This usually happens for a couple of reasons. It could be you have a relationship with a LSP and they’re helping you build your business and working at scale with you.
They don’t want to charge for every time they translate a single word for you. They’re you’re partner in building your business, so they’ll evaluate a project as whole and set a rate. As long as the brief doesn’t change, neither should the project rate.
The Main Variables That Determine Cost
Let’s look at the high-level questions we ask when quoting for document translation.
It’s important to remember that every project’s different, but it’s also important to have a starting place.
What Languages are Involved?
What are the source and target languages. The rarer the language, the less linguists that deal with it, the greater the cost.
What is the Industry?
Most industries have their own terminology and it’s important that the linguist working on your translation has industry experience.
Some industries seem to go out of their way to make things challenging and this can lead to higher costs.
The legal industry, for example, actually has its own proxy language – legalese - that Oxford Dictionary describes as “the sort of language used in legal documents that is difficult to understand."
What are the Timescales?
Need it fast? It’s usually not a problem, but it can tend to cost more because additional resource, or unsociable working hours, might be needed.
No real surprise here, it’s similar to a lot of other industries.
So How Much Does Document Translations Cost?
It could cost anything, it depends on the factors we’ve talked about, but we also know that that really doesn’t help you.
Typically, you’ve looking at about $0.15 to $0.40 per word or $20 - $40 per hour.
The best way to get an accurate quote is to have the material, know your target language and how much time you’ve got and talk to your LSP. They’ll guide you through the whole process and make it painless and cost-effective for you.
Get A Quote For Your Document Translation Needs
If you’re looking for a quote for a document translation project, we’d love to sit down and talk with you about it.
With LinguaLinx, you won't ever have to worry about your message getting lost as it’s translated. You know you're in good hands as we’re ISO 17100 and ISO 9001 compliant, have over twenty years of professional translation experience, and have earned the trust of organizations around the world.
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