Last reviewed 29 February 2012
Cassandra Oliver, marketing manager of Web-Translations, offers a few tips for both those using a translation service for the first time and for seasoned translation buyers, to help them in what can sometimes seem like a daunting task.
Get a quote first
All reputable translation providers will be able to tell you how much the translation will cost, and how long it is likely to take before starting work. This information should be given free of charge and with no obligation; otherwise, put the phone down!
You’ll be asked several questions about the text that you want to translate, such as the word count, the subject matter, what the finished translation will be used for, and how soon you need the translated version. By having this information or your document ready, you’ll be able to get a quote swiftly and efficiently.
If there is anything the translation provider has mentioned to you or included in their quote that you are unsure of, do ask — they should be able to explain everything to your satisfaction. It is important to clarify any queries such as which language variant (eg Mexican Spanish, or Simplified Chinese) is needed, or what file format you need to receive the translation in.
For text that will be published or distributed, it is important to have it proof-read by a second translator. This not only makes sure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes (translators are human after all), but also that the text reads well and is coherent and consistent. Just as you would spend time reviewing and editing your English text before publishing it, proofreading a translation gives it the final polish before it is delivered to the client.
How to choose a provider
Obtaining several quotes to compare before making a decision is a sensible approach, but the prices you end up with can vary enormously. Be sure that you are comparing like with like.
You do get what you pay for on the whole — aside from the quality of the actual translation, a cheaper price rarely gets the best service. Consider how helpful, responsive, flexible and knowledgeable each provider is, alongside the price they have quoted. There is more to a good translation service than a piece of paper, or a file attached to an e-mail.
If the price is beyond your budget, consider reducing the amount of content. It’s better to compromise on this than on the quality of the finished translation. If you need the translation for information only, or internal use, there are other options that will be less costly, such as a summarised version or a translation that has not been proof-read.
What if I’m dissatisfied?
A reputable translation provider should have a defined complaints procedure, which will usually involve having the translation checked by a third party to ascertain if it is fit for purpose. Any details you can give, such as comments from a native speaker who has reviewed the translation, will be helpful. Depending on the outcome, your provider may offer you a refund, discount or credit towards future work.
Most translation providers are happy to help and will explain any aspect of the process to you — remember, their job is to make it easier for you!