A translation’s cost represents more than your translator’s invoice. As a buyer of translation services, you need to consider the time you invest in preparing the documents for translation, managing the project and the service provider(s), reviewing and approving the deliverables.

Here are 10 tips to help you reign in your translation budget.

1. Ask your linguist to help you finalize your documents before translation

Like any consultant, a professional translator plays an advisory role. Your linguist is most able to assess your document’s coherence and legibility and to point out possible intercultural pitfalls. Making changes to the source text during translation wastes time and often causes errors. The extra revisions needed are expensive.

2. Provide your translator with all the necessary reference materials

Do you have an in-house glossary? An organigram? Similar documents that have already been properly translated? Making these available to your linguists at project start allows them to consider your preferences without wasting time in more research or having to contact you to clarify certain points.

3. Ensure your document’s “translatability”

Thinking international when you write your source text helps avoid using terms, expressions or cultural references that do not have their natural counterpart in a foreign language or culture.

4. Does the entire text need to be translated?

Not always. With the help of your linguist, you can avoid translating what has no purpose in a foreign context and save money.

5. Documents in .doc, .rtf or.txt formats

Your linguist is not a graphic artist. Asking translators to fuss with your page layout, tables and other graphics is not the best use of their time – or of your investment. To each their expertise. Documents in popular word processing formats cost less to translate.

6. Plan your project ahead of time

Don’t wait until the last minute to send your documents for translation! Your translator may not be available. Rush jobs and those requiring working nights or weekends cost more.

7. Evaluate deadlines properly

A professional translator “produces” on average 2000 words per day and works on several projects at the same time. To reign in your translation budget, calculate your turn around time based on 1000 words/day maximum (excluding editing or proofreading) to avoid rush charges.

8. Provide feedback

When the project is finished, take a few minutes to provide your linguist with feedback. These comments are key to forging a long-lasting relationship and communicating the company’s codes and preferences. A translator who has gained a deep understanding of your company’s strategy, goals and pet peeves is an effective partner who can save you time (and time is money).

9. Credit your translator’s work

Naming your translator (“translated by…”, “English texts by…”) costs you nothing, yet spurs your translator’s sense of responsibility and rewards his or her work.

10. Consider an annual contract

If you have recurring needs, spread your investment over the fiscal year. The financial advantage does not stem from a volume rate discount a professional translator would refuse (translations are not a commodity bought by the pound!) but from the opportunity for the independent professional to have a stable monthly income in exchange for reserving availability for a privileged client.

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