How Do We Price Translation?

John Merritt Blog, Top Tips

I sat down with James, our Head of Corporate Relationships, to find out more about the factors influencing a translation quote.

So what does a quote depend on?
The word count of the document, obviously, but the style and content of the document is really important too. Then it depends which languages the customer needs, and if there’s any post-processing required, like independent proofreading or specialist formatting. The urgency too. We do lots of work with clients who work so last-minute that we’ll often get asked for next-day or even same-day turnaround.

Right. Which language pairs are most common then?
Well, it depends. We do a lot of work in German, French, etc and because there are a lot of qualified, experienced translators out there, we can get competitive rates. However, if a client needs medical paperwork translating from say Icelandic, then that gets a lot more interesting – there is much less choice, which usually means higher translation costs.

That makes sense. So how much can a translator get through in a day?
Depends on the document really, but amongst professionals up to 2,000 words a day is pretty typical. Here at Prestige we prepare quotes based on a rate per 1,000 words, which means clients can have some idea of different rates between source and target languages.

OK. But what makes documents easy or difficult to translate?
Basic correspondence can usually be turned around quite quickly, but anything more specialised, especially technical, medical or legal documentation requires a sector-specific translator with expert knowledge of the subject matter.  On top of that, marketing material is amongst the hardest, because a client won’t want an accurate, literal translation – our translators will have to recreate the original meaning into the desired language, which can take some time to make sure the original impact is retained.

Anything else?
Yes, so the last two things that we take into account would be whether there’s any extra post-processing required – some clients ask for independent proofreading, where a second translator will check over the first’s work to give an extra level of assurance to a client. Or others will give us files in Adobe formats which we’ll need to deliver back ready for print in the target language. That kind of publishing work adds time.
The last one is the client’s deadline. We’ll estimate how long it’ll take based on our current workload, but if a client needs shorter turnaround times, we can reallocate projects but this tends to mean higher costs.

If you’d like a quote for a translation project coming up, do get in touch with James Trigwell, Head of Corporate Relationships, on or 077522 180648.