Decoding the Document Translation Quote Process


Hi, we’re Trusted Translations, a global multilingual language company. We would like to take a couple of minutes to help you decode the document translation quote process.

Whether you are new at buying translations or already have some experience with the process, understanding the key elements of a translation quote can help you improve the quality and consistency, lower your costs, and speed up the entire process. So let’s get started.

The core elements of almost every document translation project are the number of words and the price per word. This is because the majority of translation companies, including us at Trusted Translations, charge by the word.

An important distinction to keep in mind for document translations is the difference between the word count of the “source” document and the word count of the “target” document. The “source” word count refers to the number of words in the original document you need translated. Conversely, the target word count refers the number of words in the translated version of the document. For example, if you need to translate a document from English to Spanish, the source document is the one in English and the target document is the one in Spanish.

At Trusted Translations, we use the source document to base your quote. We believe this is a more transparent way to quote as you are more likely to know your exact source word count of your source document before you commence your project.

There are several acceptable ways to count using software programs. Don’t be surprised if different software programs come up with different word counts.
However, they should not be off by much.

This source vs target distinction mentioned before is also important as the target document may have significantly more or less words than the source document. This phenomenon is called text expansion or contraction. For example, it normally takes 20% more Spanish words to say the same thing in English. This important aspect of understanding target versus source is to ensure you are comparing apples to apples when looking at quotes from different companies.

While price per word and the overall word count are the core elements of almost every document quote, there may be a couple more variables that can impact the overall price. One element commonly found in a document translation project is formatting issues. Many companies seeking to translate their documents are looking for the translated document to look exactly or very similar to the original document. For example, this is a common requirement for brochures. This may require the need of graphic designer with specific software know-how, to get involved in the process. This may increment the cost on a per page basis.

Finally, if you need your document legally certified, a minor charge may apply. This is often require by my government organizations, to accept your translation.

Now that we have gone over the basics (Price per word, Word Count, Formatting and Legal Certification), we can start to look at some of the key elements that can affect the pricing and more importantly, the quality of your quote.

As the vast majority of the translation companies quote per word, it is important to look at the factors that can impact the per word price. The most fundamental element of the translation quote involves the language or languages involved in your project. In general, the more rare, the higher you can expect price to be. Conversely, more common languages are generally less expensive. Further, the price per word may even vary depending whether you are translating from or to a certain language. Remember source and target? For example, translating a project from English to Spanish is often less expensive than translating from Spanish to English. This is directly related to the number of qualified translators out there available to translate into a particular language.

Some translation companies like to quote one price for all languages. While it may seem simpler, you may end up paying more in the long run. This is because there is a tendency to be more volume in the common languages. At Trusted Translations, our prices vary per language pair to ensure you are getting the most competitive price in the industry.

Besides languages, the complexity of the subject matter can affect your price per word. As you may guess, a translation for a more common subject matter will be less expensive than a translation involving nuclear engineering. If you do have more complex language, the extra cost will be well-spent helping ensure the translation is accurate and the right terminology is utilized.

Timing also has a bearing on the price per word. If you have very tight deadlines, you may end up paying rush charges. There are ways to eliminate or reduce them. At Trusted Translations, we work with our clients to minimize rush charges by planning ahead or working out rolling delivery schedules that allows for partial deliveries during the project.

Next, the size of your project affects the price per word. The larger the project, the lower the price so make sure to ask your provider for volume discounts. If you have a very large project, you will also want to ask about Translation memory that can help reduce your costs by as much as 50%.

Last but not least, one of the important elements that can affect your price is quality. Our standard process at Trusted Translations is to use a triple-verification process where three separate experts review every translation. Other translation companies may provide one-step or no quality control. While this may provide you with a lower price initially, you may end up paying more by having to redo a large part of the project.

If you would like more information on the quote process or perhaps a free quote, please feel free to contact one of our translation quote specialists at 877-255-0717 or