Translation Agencies

We Dare to Comapre

See for yourself how Translia compares to other translation agencies. Make an informed decision on the benefits and savings you receive with Translia.

*Note: Feel free to replace "XTrans" with the name of any translation agency you might know. Move the mouse over the icons for more details on each feature.

Service level Translia XTrans*
Single round of translation by a translator Yes Yes
Translating and editing by two translators Yes ?
Translating, editing, and proofreading by multiple translators Yes No
Flexibility & scalability
Translation with no minimum Yes No
Orders starting from $1 Yes No
Million word project Yes ?
Availability & turnaround
24/7 service Yes ?
Same day or overnight translation Yes ?
Quick translation with no rush fee Yes No
Money back guarantee
Guaranteed timeliness Yes No
Guaranteed quality Yes ?
Project management tools
Real-time progress indicator Yes No
Preview of in-progress translation Yes No
Knowing who did what and when Yes No
Direct communication with translators Yes No
Project management workspace Yes No
Translation property management
Export to spreadsheet for free Yes No
Saving with translation memories Yes ?
Maintaining translation memories for free Yes No
1-click TMX export Yes No
Customer support
Account manager Yes ?
Phone support No Yes
Online case tracker Yes No
Misc
Interpreting services No ?
One-stop multilingual translation Yes ?
Copyright protection technology Yes No
Formatted translation with no DTP fee Yes No

 

To learn more about our unique benefits and features, please click here.

How Our Translation Rates Compare

The translation services from different translation companies may vary greatly. When you compare the translation rates, we ask you to look at their service levels before making your decision.
 

 

The Secrets of Translation Agencies

31 Ways to Get Better Translation and SAVE

Are you looking for a professional translation agency for your first translation project? Are you unhappy with your current translation agency and want to switch agencies? For either reason, you searched for translation agencies and got more than 668,000 results...

We are lucky that you chose this web page. We appreciate your click. In return we want to make you a happy translation client by uncovering the pitfalls of translation services, sharing the secrets on saving translation cost while getting better and quicker services.

1. Ask for T.E.P.

... then you will receive better rates and services from translation agencies. It's amazingly simple. TEP or T.E.P. here represents translation, editing, and proofreading. It's a term used in translation trade. When you say TEP, they know you're a high-end buyer who understands how quality translations are created. They won't lose you as a valuable client and are willing to offer you the best prices and services!

This is why TEP is critical to translation: Translation is a highly complex work because language might be one of the most complex things in the world. No professional translator can bring a sufficiently good translation without editing and proofreading. To ensure the quality, translators must review the translation for accuracy, and polish it for fluency. This is true for any professional translators, even the highly experienced ones.

2. Compare apple to apple

TEP is widely recognized as the best practice for translation quality assurance. However, not all translation agencies follow the best practice. Many translation agencies offer you "T-only" translation, without editing and proofreading process. As editing and proofreading may take the same amount of time as translation or even more, some translation agencies add editing process only if you agree to pay additional fees. So it's important to ask what their offers include when you compare their quotation - be sure to compare apple to apple when you choose the translation agency!

This also partially answers your question why translation rates vary significantly. You might be given totally different services even if all are called “translation.” In conjunction with mentioning translation quotes, we will give some tips on identifying the bad translation agencies.

3. Discard quotes made per page

You know the word processor software like Microsoft Word divides the document into pages. However, page is never the proper measure for the translation volume. Open a two page document in your word processor, press Ctrl A and change the font size to 48 - then it becomes a 20 page document immediately! The correct unit for translation is by word. It reflects the job volume in a much more precise manner. To get the word count, just choose Tools - Word count from the menu of your word processor application.

4. Don't accept quote by target word count

They are two more translation terms that make you even more professional: Source - the text you want to translate from; Target - the text you want to translate into. Source file means the document file you want to translate. Target languages, the languages you want to translate into. You shall never use the target word count for pricing. The reason is simple, you cannot get the target word count until the translation is finished! Use the source word count instead.

So why do translation agencies still quote by target words? Some languages use more words than English when conveying the same meaning. For example, a Chinese translation would include 70% more words than its source in English!

5. Can you save with cheap translation?

Absolutely not! You can never save with cheap translation! You can always get cheaper translation services if you keep searching on the Web. You may reduce translation fees at beginning but eventually you will pay more for a cheap translation. The reason is simple. Qualified professional translators usually don't, if not never, take assignment at unreasonably low prices. If a translation agency offers you incredibly low rates, you can be sure your translation will be done by unqualified people. Cheap translators bring bad translation. And finally you have to pay more to revise the translation, not to mention you would lose the potential business opportunities because of the delay. In short, you will be regretful if you choose a translation agency simply because their prices are at the lower end.

6. How to identify unreasonably low translation rates?

There are no standard translation prices. However, it's not difficult to tell the reasonable prices and unreasonable ones. In addition to comparing quotes by translation agencies, you estimate the price level based on the cost of living for local translators. For any professional services, the fees actually depend on the hourly rate for the labor. An average professional translator may translate 2,000 words or so for western languages, less for eastern languages like Japanese. Note this includes T/E/P. It may vary somehow with the requirements and contents. However 2,000 is the right number for estimation purpose: Assume the average hourly rate for a region is $20/ hour, the reasonable word rate would be around (20 x 8 / 2000) x 150% = $0.12 per words. That's OK if you get a quote as $0.10/word. However, there must be a pitfall if the quote is $0.01/word.

7. Why is professional translation expensive?

Professional translators are expensive...
Translation is labor intensive. It is time consuming. It requires a set of skills, knowledge and expertise to ensure quality. Like writers or doctors, translators need to learn and practice for a long time before they are qualified as professional translators. This is why they are expensive.

... and agency expenses are high.
Professional translation gets even more expensive when you purchase translations from a translation agency. The work such as preparing orders, processing files and coordinating translators are time consuming thus bring significant expenses. Translation agencies add a margin on top of translator fees to cover their expenses, which can be 50% or even more of total translation fees.

8. Are expensive agencies better?

No, not always at least. For example, some translation agencies who target at big corporates usually have large departments for sales and marketing, project management, account management and so on. This increase their operational expenses and make their prices at the higher end. If you use such translation agencies, you're paying their sales representatives more than the translators. You can imagine their sales representatives do not contribute to translation quality at all. Unless you're Microsoft or IBM, simply ignore quotes that are far above the average.

9. So, what brings a good translation?

Translation process and translator qualification. The process is critical because translators tend to bring errors during translation due to their human nature. Only a right quality assurance process can ensure translation quality. As for translators, their qualification, experience and knowledge, and even their mood, largely decide the translation quality. However, we do NOT suggest you to choose translation agencies by translator qualifications they list. The reason is it's rather difficult or expensive to qualify a translator. There isn't any easy method to qualify a good translator in reality. You'd better let the translation agencies do this job - this is partially why you should hire a translation agency instead of translators. Also, you will change your ideas after you read the big SECRET below...

10. Translation agencies share translators!

A fact is that 99% of professional translators are freelance translators. Most of them are not dedicated to any certain translation agencies. On the contrary they may work for a lot of translation agencies on a project basis. Only the huge organizations like UN can hire in-house full-time translators. However, they are too expensive for most firms. If a translation agency says their free translators are better than any other agencies, don't believe them!

So what on earth makes the difference?
Again, process. The translation process decides. Some translation agencies deliver better quality than others with the same translators because their processes are better. If you want superior quality, please look at a special translation process as below, which brings better translation, certainly at a bit higher cost.

11. Choose Alternating TEP for critical contents

You have learned TEP means three processes: translation, editing, and proofreading. So what is Alternating TEP? The TEP is "alternating" where any two sequential tasks are performed by different translators. For example, if Tom performs translation task, Jerry, instead of Tom again, will performs the next task, editing.

Why does it require different translators to perform different tasks? People tend to ignore mistakes they make themselves. This is true for all including translators. If a translator tries to improve his/her own translation by reviewing it again and again, the performance will be very poor. The better solution is arranging different translators to improve the translation. This results in much better quality and productivity.

12. Check if they walk the talk

Just ignore the translation agencies that cannot clearly describe how they do translation jobs. They might never do translation quality assurance work! For the remained, ask if they can provide any evidence for how they implement the process. You shall choose only translation agencies that walk as they talk!

The format of evidence doesn't matter. A small number of leading translation agencies that have a strong IT system can fully track the translation process. However as most translation agencies have neither formalized process nor IT system in place, you'd better be flexible with the evidence format. The key is they shall demonstrate what they promise to you. For example, if they promise alternating TEP translation, ask "How do you ensure the translation will be reviewed by a different translator?"

13. How do big companies choose translation agencies?

They often have a vendor manager who is in charge of choosing translation agencies. They require the candidates to fill out lengthy forms but the key point is simple: translator qualification and quality assurance process! How do we know that? We have served enterprises like Microsoft and Dell for a dozen years! You don't have to prepare a form. Just follow our tips and you can easily get the right translation agency for your project!

Please read more and you will become a translation expert soon. Next we would like to discuss how to reduce translation cost while improving quality.

14. Does the location of a translation agency matter?

Some translation agencies emphasize they are based in the USA or in the UK. Surely you feel the domestic companies are more trustworthy. However, when you consider the translation quality, be aware they will hire freelance translators to do the job and the location of translators is more important. It is the best quality assurance practice to use local translators. For example, the translation agency shall hire a Japan based translator for your English to Japanese project. Yes there might be good Japanese translators in the USA but for the sake of safety, the agency shall hire ones in Japan.

15. Does the size matter?

People often have the impression that large translation agencies do better jobs. However this is not always true. Also the number of languages an agency supports might give you a wrong impression about their size. The truth is a translation agency that offer one hundred languages doesn't have to be bigger or better than the ones offering less than ten languages. The size, if you mean the number of employees, largely depends on their business model. Their quality assurance processes are absolutely more important than the size.

16. Do translation agencies offer a money back guarantee?

Some but not many translation agencies offer a money back guarantee because defining the translation quality is not easy, not to mention the difficulty of measuring the quality. Again, that's why the process is critical: controlling the process is the only way to ensure the quality where measuring is difficult. The worse is, some translation agencies that offer a quality guarantee set the unrealistic conditions. So, you shall always read the fine prints carefully when you meet a translation agency who offers you a money back guarantee.

17. What if you don't understand the target language?

It's not a problem. You can still get a good translation if you follow our tips to choose a right translation agency. The sales representative from the translation agencies can do a good job in selling even if they don't understand the languages. Similarly you can be a good client without knowing the languages.

18. Why is professional translation slow?

If you ever use a traditional translation agency, you know how slow the translation could be. You place an order and can't receive the translation until several days or even weeks later. Why can't translation agencies deliver translations quickly?

Professional translation is just slow. Translation work is detail oriented. It is very labor intensive. The faster a translator translates, the more errors s/he brings. It's true of translators at all levels. To ensure sufficiently good quality, translators have to translate at a relatively slow speed. The daily translation volume for a translator typically ranges from 1,000 to 2,500 source words, depending on the language pairs, subjects, and requirements.

Collaborative translation is difficult. For large translation projects of million words, arranging multiple translators to work at the same time may speed up translation. However, doing this results in inconsistency and additional editing process shall be applied. Also, a translator cannot start editing a section until translation is totally completed. For small jobs it gets even more difficult having multiple translators working together, not to mention getting translation, editing, and proofreading processes performed by different translators in an efficient manner. Some time collaborative translation requires more time in communicating and coordinating than translation. This is why a turnaround shorter than one days is impossible for traditional translation agencies.

Inefficient business process. Translation agencies allocate remarkable time for non-translation business processes such as contacting the translators, negotiating time, preparing files, and handling payment. If you give a translation agency three days, they might give translators less than one day.

It's rather disappointing, right? Please keep reading our tips on better timing on your translation project.

19. Let translation agencies propose the time

Even if you already have a time table for your project, we recommend that you let translation agencies propose a time table based on their capacity. By doing this you can avoid some translation agencies from offering unreasonably short turnaround despite their availability. It's better request them to indicate not only when they may deliver the translation but also when they can start the translation. Some translation agencies might accept your order but don't start translation until several days have passed!

20. Don't request to shorten the turnaround times

If the time frame they propose don't match your plan, try other translation agencies. The translation service market is so competitive that the translation agencies always give the best time to seize more clients. If you feel they are slow, don't press them to squeeze the time further. Some agencies might compromise but that would bring a disaster later. If all proposed turnaround times don't match your schedule, your expectation might be unrealistic. Revise your schedule, in the name of quality!

21. Don't beg if they're busy

There might be a time a translation agency tells you they are too busy to start your job right away. If they refuse your order, you should appreciate their integrity. We suggest you turn to them when you have another translation project in the future. However it's a bad idea to beg them to insert your job into the queue - that would overload the translators and interrupt their process, either of which would damage quality.

22. And avoid bait-and-switch fraud by bad players

Some bad translation agencies might accept your order even if they know they cannot meet your deadline. When the deadline is approaching, they might request you to extend it. You have to extend the deadline because you have made the payment and the translation is "in progress". To prevent bait-and-switch, you should ask if they offer a 100% money back guarantee if they fail to meet the deadline. Some translation agencies back their timeliness with a money back guarantee.

23. Are there any translation agencies offering quick translations?

Yes, you can find the same day, overnight, or even one hour translation services if your word count is small. However most, if not all, translation agencies charge rush fees. Also remember there is a trade-off between time and quality. If you really need express translation services, choose the online translation services, which are faster than the traditional translation agencies.

24. Allocate more time for translation

A tight schedule makes your project risky. Translation buyers intend to underestimate the time required for translation. Keep in mind translation is time consuming and translation agencies have no way to shorten the turnaround time further when the limit is reached. If you are unsure how much time to allocate for your translation project, you can use our instant quote feature to check your schedule. It's free.

25. Control the "translation window"

The translation cannot start before your source texts are ready. Meanwhile you must deliver the finished translation before your products are released. We call the time between the two points "translation window". To control the translation window, you should take part in planing for both content creation and product release. You often have less time for translation than it should be because the source texts are always being updated but the release date cannot be delayed. If you act to prevent delay of content creation , the time for translation can be ensured and the quality will be improved.

26. Most translation agencies have minimum fees

Most translation agencies apply a minimum fee. When the job is small in size, they usually charge a flat minimum fee like $40 or $50. If your word count is small, ask what their minimum charge is. The good news is recently some translation agencies, mainly the online service providers, have stopped charging minimum fees. You can even get a single line of text translated at a normal rate!

27. Not all translation agencies offer online translation

All translation agencies have a website but not all of them provide online translation services. They just use the website for promotion and request you to call them for order. Even those who have an online form would not be an online translation service if they don't translate online. In fact, today only a limited number of translation agencies offer online services in the real sense of that expression.

28. Use translation memory

If you need to update your contents regularly, choose the translation agencies who use translation memory tools and agree to deliver the TM along with the translations. In translation industry TM means translation memories. When your contents include repeating text strings, translators can translate such strings once and reuse them for many times through translation memory system. This improves productivity and thus reduces translation cost. The translation agencies may give you a discount for reused translation.

29. No need to buy TM...

...unless your organization needs to do complex content management. Also some online translation services integrates TM into their portal so you can enjoy TM benefits without buying any TM tools. Some even allow their clients to use the TM for free! So, just ask if they offer TM service and if they charge for it.

30. Pass if they say localization or globalization

The translation agencies that keep talking those words usually position themselves as a localization vendor, which offers add-on services on top of language translation. If you just want to get a document translated, their so called "localization" service is more than what you really need.

31. Forget translation agencies - Buy online and save!

The leading translation providers are going online. Like other online business, they usually achieve higher productivity and thus offer better prices and faster services. If you expect better and faster translation services at a lower cost, this is our last but not least tip on choosing translation agencies: Buy online for better translation and save!

About Translia

As a professional translation agency going online, we develop state of the art translation technology, build the world's largest professional translator network, and satisfy clients all over the world for any language, on any subject, at any time. If you like our tips on choosing the right translation agency, we recommend you try our online professional translation services.