Are you growing your business in multiple markets? If so, apart from translating your website or localizing your software, you may need to translate a pricing documentation, your product manual, a sales quotation, marketing brochure or any other type of document.
Translating documentation with the use of Google Translate is acceptable only in limited scenarios, like personal use in conversations or translating short, simple texts.
If you want to use the documentation for business purposes, you should start working with a professional translation agency.
At ATL, we work with numerous clients who ask similar questions every week. Without a close examination of the documents, it is difficult to provide binding calculations. The range of document translation cost may vary from $10 to $100 for one page.
Estimating the document translation cost may seem complicated, so this article will explain how certain factors influence the documentation translation price.
Translation services rates are usually calculated as per word and and per hour. In terms of document translation, you can also pay a rate calculated per page.
You will find a translation rate that is charged per page in, for example, sworn translation. This includes stamped translations of diplomas, certificates and many other official documents.
You can also pay per page when there are many pages with a similar number of words on a page, and similar formatting on each page with no graphics.
The most common way of calculating the cost of translation is the rate per word.
The page may include a higher or lower number of words depending on the font size, formatting, and the number of graphics. Naturally, one page of marketing content, rich in images, may consist of fewer words than a package leaflet written in 8-point Times New Roman, hence the difference in document translation costs.
For translation purposes, a word is defined as a string of letters or special characters. Numbers ending with spaces are also recognized as a word. The same goes for proper names, links, dates, and measurements.
This question is asked by many of our clients. Never hold back on asking about such things.
In therms of numbers, the character used as a thousand separator in the United States is a comma (,). In Germany, thousands are separated with a period (.). In Sweden, the thousand separator is a space. Accordingly, one thousand and fifty-two is displayed as 1,052 in the United States, 1.052 in Germany and 1 052 in Sweden.
Imagine how these differences can affect pricing documentation or your product technical requirements!
With regard to proper names, we need to remember strongly inflected languages, like for example, Polish and Finnish. What does that mean? It means that a proper name may need to receive additional letters in order to be grammatically correct. In this case, the translator needs to work on every proper name and change it accordingly to the context to match local grammar rules. Take a look at the different forms of word disable translated from English to Polish:
The format of dates also needs translating. For example, June 2nd, 2019, can be written as 6-2-2019 but also as 2-6-2019. In order to avoid any confusion between February 6th and June 2nd, the translation needs to follow the local formatting.
Document translation cost can be reduced by up to 50%, did you know that? Working with a translation company with a transparent pricing policy and with the right use of translation technology, you can save substantial amounts of money on your localization projects.
Translation software is called CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools. There are many to choose from. Some of them are cloud-based, other provide desktop versions, but there are also those offering both solutions.
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Translation tools are very similar and serve the same main purpose - they accelerate the translation process and reduce localization cost. Every respectable translation agency uses CAT tools to reduce your translation cost.
The basic feature of CAT tools is that they divide the original content into a logical chunks, called segments. It scans the document for repeated segments, like in the image below:
If your document contains repetitive segments, CAT tools help to accelerate the localization process by prompting how the repeated segment has been previously translated.
This reduces time and cost of your document translation. How? In professional translation proposals, these words are referred to as Repetitions and are charged up to 75% less.
CAT tools can analyze the text and immediately prepare statistics, showing the number of words within the repetitive segments. Single words repeated in the whole document are not included in the statistics as repetitions. Words not counted as repetitions:
Translation Memory (TM) is another cost-reducing feature of CAT tools. It is a database containing all the translated segments. Thanks to the TM, it is possible to reuse the already translated content. It contains segments consisting of the original, and the translated text. As a result, the more you translate, the cheaper it gets.
How is that?
For example, you assign a 200-page document for translation. There are 50,000 words. 0.3% of words are repetitions. You get a quote for 49,850 words paid 100% and 150 words paid 25% of the rate.
Project 1 - 200 pages, 40,000 words:
The translated content is saved in your TM. After that, you assign another 200 pages for translation. There are 49.206 words. 1% of the text consists of repetitions but the documents also contain pieces of previously translated segments. These segments will be presented in the word count statistics as TM match type.
Below you can see an example of statistics provided by CAT tool showing how many segments and words are repetitions and how many of them can be restored from your TM and will cost less
Project 2 - 200 pages, 49,206 words:
46,258 words 50% - 74% match and No match
598 words Repetitions
466 words 101% and 100% TM match
322 words 95% - 99% TM match
371 words 85% - 94% TM match
1,191 words 75% - 84% TM match
Each of the TM match ranges receives a discount, hence the lower cost of translation.
Related content: How to Save on Translation Thanks to Translation Memory
The subject matter of the document is called a domain. It is a subject field, sphere of knowledge, or activity with its own specialized culture and social context, as well as linguistic characteristics.
So, why are some domains more expensive to translate than other? Is it because it is more difficult for translators to translate? No, the difficulty for a specialized translator is irrelevant. A text on a specific topic should be translated by an expert in the subject matter, with proven experience.
The reason why some of the domains may cost more is that the pool of translators for this particular domain is smaller. Translators of highly specialized text may charge higher fees for their service.
Why do different languages influence translation price? Is it because some languages are more difficult to learn than others? No, the actual reason is the number of translators available as well as the region they live in.
There are places where the pool of professional translators is smaller, and therefore the rates for translation services are higher. This is the case with Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, Finnish. Icelandic has the highest reported freelance average rate on ProZ.com.
Also, the services provided by translators from countries with a high cost of living, are likely to be more expensive. A good example may be Japanese, which can be charged, on average, $0.16 per word by a freelancer for the translation-only step.
Related content: 15 Languages for Translation in 2022 You That Should Know About
The source language also influences the translation rate. The rate for English - Japanese translation will be lower (an average freelance translation-only rate is $0.16) than the rate for Italian - Japanese (an average freelance translation-only rate is $0.18).
One of the challenges in the localization process is the fact that the number of words, local diacritics or even the writing direction, vary depending on the language.
Importing a document into the CAT tool without proper formatting, may result in an inappropriate segmentation. This, in turn, may corrupt the TM. As a result, the translated segments won't be properly reused in future projects, and that means less discounts generated by the TM. The better the document formatting is handled, the more translations you can reuse.
Whenever you use a period to end a sentence, the whole sentence is treated by the CAT tool as a segment:
The TM will store the 3 segments together with their translations. If your file is incorrectly formatted, and sentences are separated by hard returns (a code inserted into text to represent the end of the line by pressing the Enter key), the three segments can turn into five.
The TM will contain partial translations, and it is very unlikely that in the future projects the text will be formatted in exactly the same way. Therefore, avoid using a hard return in the middle of a sentence.
The correct preparation of files enables the reuse of the previously translated and approved content as much as possible.
Sometimes, the document consists of a multilingual table. It's natural for the CAT tool to replace the original text with translation. Some clients ask to add the translation under the original text or in a separate column. This generates additional file preparation effort.
To prepare the document for translation, the text needs to be copied to the destination place of the target translation. If the document is properly formatted, it only takes a few clicks. In case of a poorly formatted document, it may require manual and time-consuming operations. These tasks are paid per hour. The more complex the layout, the more time is needed for the document to be prepared for localization, hence a higher price.
There are also non-editable documents, for example, scanned documents (sometimes handwritten) which need OCR (Optical Character Recognition) or rewriting into an editable format. Otherwise, they can't be translated with CAT tools. These services generate additional cost.
You may be tempted to skip the CAT tools and ask for translation without translation software. Remember that this will deprive you of the TM matches in your future projects and you won't be able to ask for the discount on repetitions.
Preparing files for localization takes additional time in order to maintain appropriate formatting and layout. The best way to save that time is to allow integrations that seamlessly connect your content directly to the translation tool.
This is possible with most document authoring tools, or HAT (help authoring tools). These could be MadCap Flare, Adobe RoboHelp or Paligo. They are all compatible with translation tools.
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Integrations may cost you additional money, but the benefits are worth the investment.
You can easily track the project, assign languages, and budget. You have immediate access to the translated content. All document translations are stored in the centralized TM and are immediately available for reuse.
Related content: 50+ Translation Integrations that Your Should Know About
CAT tools don't only reuse the already translated content. In some cases, they can also populate numbers in a way that follows local formatting. The same applies to dates. This can influence the final document translation delivery time and its cost.
In order to estimate the cost of your document translation, take into consideration all the following aspects:
• Number of words,
• Language pair,
• Document Layout.
Make sure you work with translation services that use translation tools and automations, and that are able to integrate their translation management software directly with your system.
Ask about the tools and the ways to save on the localization costs.
Make sure you don't overspend on your document translation, and that you know exactly what to expect from your translation agency from the start.
If you have a document to translate now and you want to know how much its translation will cost, feel free to contact us for your customized document translation quote.
5 Ways That Translation Agencies Cause You to Overspend
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