• Mariana Roccia

6 factors that can influence the cost of your translations

If you are budgeting for your upcoming translation projects or if you have any personal documents you need to translate, this entry will help you plan and assess what to expect when you request a quote.



1) Language combination

The rarity of the language combinations can increase the cost of the project. A document that requires translation into a lesser spoken language, such as Faroese can be more costly than a translation of the same document from English into Spanish.


As a rule, if a language has a large number of native speakers, chances are there will also be several translators working from and into that language. However, translators are likely to charge higher or lower rates depending on the cost of living of the country where they are based, and their experience and qualifications.


This website will give you an idea of those language combinations that are generally more expensive.



2) Urgency

The quicker the requested turnaround, the more expensive the translation will be. This applies both to small and large projects, especially if multiple language combinations are required. To compensate for this urgency, a team of translators can be put together to reduce the turnaround times without compromising the quality of the work; however, this will increase the cost of your translations.


Similarly, individuals looking to have their official documents translated to attend a visa appointment or for urgent travelling purposes, surcharges may apply if the project has to be completed over non-working days, such as weekends or bank holidays. If you require any physical copies to be posted, this also add constraints to the turnaround.


Time is money! Whenever possible allocate enough time between commissioning the translation and delivery times.



3) Word count

Translation projects are generally quoted per word. This is perhaps the most common form of doing it, but other systems may apply, such as per hour, per lines or per package. The word count will not only affect the total cost but also when your documents will be ready.


As an average, a professional translator can deliver between 2000 and 2500 words per day depending on the complexity of the document and the subject matter. Usually, translators work on several projects at the same time, but this is a useful yardstick for understanding why the word count matters.


Also, consider that for low volume projects a minimum charge may apply.


Bundle up several documents to avoid minimum charges. This will also enable the project manager or the translator to calculate an accurate turnaround. Depending on the volume and the urgency, the project will be assigned to one or several translators.



4) Subject matter expertise

Using a subject matter expert during the process will result in an increase of the cost, particularly when rarer language combinations are required. “Experts have more knowledge in their domain, but expertise and expert cognitive processing consists not simply in having access to more knowledge” (Dimitrova, 2005, p.17). As a result, experts are able to retrieve information that would help them perform the task more efficiently than non-experts.


Expert translators will not only have an excellent command of their source and target languages but also be able to understand the terminology and the tone of the target industry. Many translators earn their subject matter expertise through a degree in a specific subject or by long-term continuous work in their subject field.


If your document is loaded with industry specific jargon or if you are reaching a specialist audience then a subject matter expert translator will be most likely required for the translation and proofreading processes. Make sure to communicate these requirements when commissioning the project.



5) Format

Non-editable formats, such as images and PDF documents can also increase the price and the turnaround times. Simply because the translator will have to convert the source file into an editable format in order to produce the translation, if a specific software is not provided. This can be time- consuming and errors can be introduced since layout requirements can be accidentally removed during the process.


Another important point, particularly when it comes to websites and promotional materials is that the language combination can also have an impact on the format. For instance, a Spanish translation from English will expand the word count approximately 25%, whilst the reverse process can result in a text contraction of approximately 10% or 20%. This is something to be considered when designing the documents.


If you specifically require a specific format to be kept, then a Desktop Publishing (DTP) expert may need to handle the design to ensure the translated copy matches the original file before project delivery.


If possible, provide your translator with a source file in an editable format. When designing your documents, try to do it with translation in mind: consider the percentage of expansion or contraction that can occur once translated.



6) Additional services

Aside from any format considerations that can also be within the scope of additional services, there are other items that can increase the total cost. Certified translations, for instance, require a certification statement and hard copies to be posted to the client.


Notarised translations will incur additional fees to cover for the notary’s professional services. You will also be charged separately if you require additional /notarised copies of a document.



Look out for any additional requirements beyond the standard translation process that will increase the overall cost. Make a list of the additional services you will need throughout the project and discuss these with the project manager or translator.


At M.R. Language Services I take pride in delivering always on time. I strive to give you a stress-free experience so you can have your documents completely ready for when you need them.


Once I receive your request and the documents that need translation, I will produce a quote within 2 hours.


Get in touch and let’s discuss your project today.


Mariana Roccia is a certified translator and language teacher working between English and Spanish. Her specialisms are law, business, and academia. She holds an MA in Linguistics and an MA in Environmental Humanities. In addition to working as a translator, she is also involved in language research and regularly presents her findings in the field to the industry. She co-convenes the International Ecolinguistics Association, a network of over 1,200 researchers around the world, and is the Co-Editor of the book series Bloomsbury Advances in Ecolinguistics. She is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL), Member of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL) and Committee Member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting’s Western Regional Group. Keep in touch with Mariana on LinkedIn, Facebook and Academia.edu.