It’s surprising how many times we get asked to cost a document for translation without the chance to see it – “it’s 4 pages long” a customer might say, or “there’s about 30,000 words.” So why is it so hard to give a cost? We’ll try to explain.
First, our costs are based on a per thousand word rate, dependent on language combination, so the initial amount will be determined by your wordcount. Although for an MS Word document this is easy to find, we need to take into consideration things like text that can’t be directly edited in images. Any text in text boxes may also not be counted, depending on your version of Word and how it’s set up. Of course for a pdf scan we’re going to have to count by hand…
Giving us the number of pages can occasionally be misleading – for example we recently gave a cost based on an agreed average count of 350 words per page, to find that when the document was made available, one page had over 1000 words!
There may be parts of the document that don’t need translation – for example Notes in PowerPoint documents or sections that may already have been translated. We’ll also need to check if we can take advantage of any repetition in the document to help keep your costs down.
The second feature we need to look at is the format of your document. Some customers will have a pdf, which in some cases can be easily converted to a Word document, but in others the conversion won’t work, is password protected or the document is scanned, making any automated conversion impossible. We’ll then discuss with you the best way to create an editable file for translation, if one is needed.
Your document may be in InDesign, in which case a typesetting cost might need to be considered. In some cases images or text may need to be localised or transcreated to get the best end product for your needs. We will also need to consider proofreading if that’s something you can’t do internally.
If we have a chance to take a look at the document, we can make a better estimate of how long we will need, both for any document processing tasks as well as the actual translation and checking. For example we’ll usually allow a slightly longer time for medical translations as we know our resources are usually very busy. Projects involving a lot of document processing tasks may also require additional time.
We’ve even come across cases where the language of the document is thought to be one thing and it turns out to be something completely different, with a different associated cost. We’ve been sent incorrect documents, mixed-up projects, missing pages and unwanted pages – so we have found it’s best to see exactly what needs doing and check it all makes sense before we offer a quote.
Of course, if you’re concerned about confidentiality, we can still help. We’re happy to give a ballpark estimate, setting out how we arrived at the cost, so you can make an educated decision. As you would expect, we are also happy to sign an NDA and we do treat all projects as confidential as a matter of course.