What you need to know if you are new to translation services
If you need a translation doing but don’t quite know how it all works, here’s the information you need to help you understand the processes involved and how to get the best from your supplier.
We’ll take a look at how you get a quote, who actually does the work, how you can help them so they can do the best job possible, the document formats we can handle and what you might expect to get back from us.
How do I get a quote?
Ideally we need to see document first to check the format, language, legibility, wordcount and subject matter. Usually an email copy is fine.
We’d need to confirm what languages you need, so if you’re looking for Chinese for example and can tell us where in China you need the document to be read, we can recommend the best local language variant to use. If you’re not sure what language your document is in, we can also help confirm that.
Prices are based per 1000 words (unless a minimum charge applies).
It’s worth considering the following points:
• Am I sure this is the final version of the text? Changes at a later date cause confusion, delay and additional cost.
• When do I need this back? We need to know your delivery deadline, to the hour if that’s important.
• What do I need this document for? Is it for publication, a court case, internal information? This will affect how we process the document and return it.
Providing this information is really important – giving us as long as possible to do the translation and handle any queries means that the linguist can research, consider and review the translation within a sensible timescale. A rush job is sometimes possible, but the outcome will never be good as a careful translation.
Once we have this information, you’ll need to decide if you need the translation to be proofread. Our Standard Translation Service is for information only – if your text is for publication, it should be proofread by a competent person who knows both your company-specific terminology and the two languages in question. If you don’t have someone available who could do this (a work colleague, overseas agent, or client for example), we can arrange additional proofreading by a second qualified translator (our Publication Service).
Who actually does the translation?
People often think that we do all our translation work in-house. While it’s true that a certain percentage of work is done by our in-house team, we can’t possibly be so skilled that we can competently cover all languages and the many subject areas we specialise in.
Your project management team are your initial point of contact and they will help guide you through the process – ask them any questions you have and feel free to pick their brains if you have any concerns.
Once you have approved your quote, we’ll select one of our linguist team to carry out the actual translation of your document and we’ll also confirm your delivery. We’ll work with a hand picked linguist, often with many years’ experience of translating and working in specialist fields. He or she will always be a mother-tongue speaker and will have been assessed by MTT. Our project team know the strengths of our translators and also their availability – we’ll select the best person for the job taking into account a wide range of factors such as format, deadline and specialist subject area.
If you’d like to talk to your translator this can usually be arranged – it’s often helpful for translators to have a direct understanding of what the client wants and the opportunity to ask questions.
We can arrange machine translation if needed (for example for high volumes of text where a lower degree of accuracy is acceptable), but prefer to use human translation for the vast majority of our projects.
How can I help the translator do the best job possible?
If you can provide background material it is very helpful. Your translator will then be able to match approved vocabulary and style. Background information, particularly images, may also help with research, understanding and reduce the number of queries you may receive.
If you have any approved company glossaries or terminology lists that would also be useful.
If queries are received, please ensure they are answered as soon as possible so that your delivery deadline is not affected.
In the case of technical manuals, if a piece of equipment runs a software package, the software will probably need to be translated too. In an ideal world the operating manuals would be translated before the software strings, but this is rarely the case. Both sets of data should be available to the translator if possible so that the screenshots in the manual can be kept consistent with the manual terminology and the strings can be more readily understood out of context.
When translating software strings be prepared for a list of queries – individual words or phrases taken out of context are very difficult to translate correctly unless we know more about what they really mean and how they are used.
It is also useful if you could explain any in-company acronyms or non-standard abbreviations.
Any queries that you do answer will also be passed on to other linguists working on the same project if your answers could assist them too.
What formats can you handle?
At MTT we are able to handle most formats, from a handwritten note to a video file or a typeset manual.
It’s more convenient and quicker for us to process your text if it arrives in an editable MS Office file (Word, PowerPoint, Excel), but we do have ways of working with other formats.
For example, if all you have is a pdf, we may be able to use a conversion programme or we might be able to extract the text and paste it into Word before translation.
We generally return this type of document as a two column bi-lingual Word document, so you can see what part of the pdf equates to what section of the translation. This is useful if someone in your company is going to take the translation and use it in a web page or typeset document.
In other cases, the content of a non-editable pdf may need to be recreated from scratch. An admin charge may be made for formatting non-editable documents prior to translation.
We are also able to handle most InDesign or Quark format files and also html or web pages, generally returning files in the original format back to you.
What will I get back and when can I have it?
You will receive your translated file in the agreed format by the agreed deadline on your Confirmation Sheet, assuming you have answered any queries promptly.
When we quote for a project we offer an estimated delivery of so many days or weeks, which is confirmed once we receive the go-ahead and can determine our translation team’s current workload.
When a project is placed for translation we will send you a Confirmation Sheet which details our confirmed deadline, cost, language needed and translator's name. Check this carefully to make sure we have understood your requirements correctly.
A translator can normally produce about 2000 words of finished text a day – there are several ways of working more quickly in a rush scenario but quality may suffer, so always give as much time as you can.
We will return your document by email or by post if needed. A certificate of translation on our letterhead is offered for legal documents – please ask the team if you need details of this service.
We’ll also send a copy of our feedback form with your job so you have an opportunity to let us know how the process worked for you. Any feedback is greatly appreciated and is proactively used to improve our services to all our clients.
We’ll post out your invoice within a couple of days – payment is due immediately, by cash, cheque or BACS. Please ensure we have a PO number if needed for your accounts department and that you have completed our client account form so we have all the correct details for invoicing.
We hope this article has helped explain what you can expect and how you can help make the process as effective as possible. If you have any queries don’t hesitate to get in touch on 01562 748778 - we'd love to hear from you.
What you need to know if you are new to translation services