Want to know exactly what document translation costs? And how you can save money on document translation services? Here’s everything you need to know.

If you’ve got a document that needs translating, there are a number of things that can affect the cost of translation. The language combination, experience of the translator, subject matter and formatting of the document can all affect translation price.

So what is the cost of document translation?

On a basic level document translation costs are normally worked out on a price-per-word basis, and most translators and translation companies work to industry standard rates for translation.

Generally document translation prices range from £0.10 to £0.16 per word. So if you have a 1000 word document, it will cost between £100 and £160 for translation.

But why the variation in cost per word?

Well, when it comes to document translation, some languages cost more than others.

Languages that are spoken by large numbers of people – think Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, English – tend to cost less per word. While less common languages, like Icelandic, Nepalese and Maori, are generally more expensive.

Are there other factors that affect the price per word of translation?

Sometimes the supply of translators outweighs the demand for translation. When this happens the per-word rate is pushed down, as translators have to compete for work. At the same time, if the cost of living is low in a country, translators will charge lower rates too.

This is why Chinese is one of the least expensive languages. And why Norwegian, Icelandic and other Nordic languages are some of the most expensive. (The cost of living is high, the demand for translation is high, but the number of translators is low.)

So your 10,000 word document translation into Chinese might cost £1000, while the same document translated into Icelandic might cost £1600.

So how do you know if you’re paying a fair price for translation?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the price you’ve been quoted is a fair price for the service you’re receiving. But there are a few things you can to do make sure you are actually getting a fair price for translation.

Firstly, be sure to check the quoted price against the industry standard rates. This will give you an indication as to whether your quote is completely far-fetched, or actually within the normal standards.

Secondly, think about the document you need translating. Is it a highly-technical document packed with niche terminology that only a specialist would understand? Is it a snazzy marketing brochure that needs creative artwork translation and localisation for a specific market? Or maybe it’s a high-volume literary document packed with floral language and literary devices. If the answer is yes to these, then the cost of your translation may be higher.

Equally, when you have a simple low word-count document, such as a short email, the translation should be relatively simple. As such, the cost should be kept to a minimum too.

And what about quality? Does this affect the cost of document translation?

The short answer is yes, it does.

Many translation companies choose to offer an inexpensive basic translation service. By this they normally mean a cheap machine translation service with basic proofreading and editing on top. This type of service is ok when you don’t need to worry about the translation quality. But if you’re looking to accurately communicate with your customers, promote your brand and products or sell overseas you will likely need a higher quality translation service.

And if you’re relying on a highly accurate, precise document translation, then you definitely need to choose a skilled professional translator or translation company.

But how can you be assured of the translation quality?

You can get a better understanding of the professionalism and expertise of your translator or translation company by asking to look at the following:

1. Professional certification, credentials and any accreditation by official bodies.
2. Testimonials from other clients.
3. Examples of their work.

So is there any way to save money on document translation without losing quality?

There are a few simple things you can do to cut document translation costs:

1. Group together documents with low word counts to avoid minimum charges.
2. High-volume projects may be suitable for a discount – think documents or groups of documents with more than 10,000 words.
3. If your document is highly repetitive (i.e. terminology and phrases are regularly repeated), your translator or translation company may be able to offer you a discount.
4. Often translation companies will offer a discount for charities and NGOs. The discount is normally about 10%.

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Sure Languages is a professional translation company based in the UK. We help businesses from all sectors communicate in over 100 languages through our specialised translation, interpreting and voiceover services.