Translation Companies

We Dare to Compare

See for yourself how Translia compares to other translation companies. 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 company you might know. Mouse over the icons for more information 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
Interpreting services No ?
One-stop multilingual translation Yes ?
Copyright protection technology Yes No
Formatted translation with no DTP fee Yes No


The Secrets of Translation Companies

31 Free Tips on How to Get a Better Translation and Save

You might be looking for a translation company for your first translation project. You might be unsatisfied with your current translation company and want to switch companies. For either reason, you searched for translation companies and got more than 16,000,000 results...

We feel lucky that you chose this page from among millions of web pages. We appreciate the click that brought you to our site. In return we want to make you a happy translation customer by revealing the pitfalls of translation services, sharing the tips on how to save, while getting a better and quicker translation.

1. Say T.E.P.

... then you can expect better prices and services from translation companies. It's amazingly simple. TEP or T/E/P here means translating, editing, and proofreading. It's jargon used by translation professionals. When you say TEP, they know you're an experienced client who understands how quality translations are created. They certainly value you and want to offer you the best prices and services!

If you want to be as experienced as it sounds, know a little more about why TEP is important to translation quality: Translation is a very complex task because language is one of the most complex things in the universe. No translator can deliver a sufficiently good translation with a single round of work. To reach a high level of quality, translators have to make great efforts to eliminate errors, improve accuracy and fluency through editing and proofreading. This is true of translators at all levels, even the highly skilled ones.

2. Apple to apple comparison

TEP is widely recognized as the best translation practice. Unfortunately, not all translation service providers follow the best practice. Many translation companies offer you "T-only" translation services, without editing and proofreading. Usually, E (editing) and P (proofreading) may take the same amount of time as T (translating), or even more. That's why some companies will add editing at your request but will charge you an additional fee for it. So, it's important to ask what their offers include before you compare their translation rates. Only an apple to apple comparison is meaningful, right?

The paragraph above also partially answers your question why translation quotes vary so much - it is because translation quotes are often for totally different service levels in spite of all being called “translation service”. In conjunction with mentioning translation quotes, we would like to give you some easy ways to screen out the poor translation companies.

3. Reject quotes made per page

If you use a word processor in day-to-day work, you know what a page means. However, a page is NOT the right unit to measure the size of a translation job. If you activate Ctrl A to select all text in your word processor and change the font size to 48, your two page document would immediately become 20 pages! The correct measurement is by word. It reflects the job size in a much more accurate manner. To know the word count of your document, just choose Tools - Word count from the main menu of your word processor.

4. Always quote by source word count

Here are two more translation technical terms that will make you even more professional: "Source" - what you want to translate from; "Target" - what you want to translate into. Source document means the document you want to translate. Target language, the language you want to translate into. You should always use the source word count for pricing. The reason is simple, you cannot get the target word count until the translation is finished!

So why do translation companies want to quote by target word count? Certain languages require many more words than English when conveying the same information. For example, the word count of a Chinese translation would be 70% more than its English original!

5. You can never save with cheap translation!

You can always find lower and lower prices if you keep searching on the Internet. You can get the translation done at a lower cost, but you will never actually save with a cheap translation. The reason is simple. Qualified professional translators seldom, if ever, take jobs at a very low price. If someone offers you very low prices, you can imagine who will actually do the translation. Poor translators deliver poor translation. And in the end you have to pay more to improve the translation, not to mention the potential business opportunities you might lose.

You will regret it if you choose the translation companies that offers the lowest quotes.

6. How cheap is too cheap?

There are no standard translation rates. You need to learn to tell what is reasonable and what is not. In addition to comparing quotes from multiple translation companies, you can make an estimate based on the cost of living for translators. Like any other professional service, the fees are actually based on an hourly rate. A normal translator may translate about 2,000 words including T/E/P for western languages, less for Asian languages. It varies with quality requirements and the nature of the content. However, 2,000 is a good number to estimate for translation rates: Assume the typical hourly rate for the target region is $20 per hour, the word rate would be (20 x 8 / 2000) x 150% = $0.12 per words. Generally you should be wary if quotes for professional translation services are less than $0.10/word.

7. Why is translation expensive?

Translators are expensive...
Translation is labor-intensive and time-consuming. To deliver high quality translation, it requires skills and expertise that only professional translators possess. Professional translators, like doctors and lawyers, need many years of learning and practice to get qualified. That's why they are expensive.

... and company expenses are high.
Translation gets even more expensive because you usually purchase translations from a translation company. The tasks like processing orders, handling files and contacting translators are time-consuming. That results in significant expenses. The companies will add a margin on top of translator fees to cover their expenses, which can be 50% or even more of what you would pay for the translation itself.

8. Are expensive translation companies better?

Absolutely not. For example, some translation companies who aim to serve large enterprises hire a large team of project managers, account managers, and sales representatives so their translation rates are at the higher end. If you use their services, they might give more of your money to sales representatives than to translators. You can imagine their quality would not be good. Unless the name of your company is Microsoft or IBM, you can safely pass on quotes that are far above the average.

9. So, what makes a good or bad translation?

Process and translator. The process is important because, as mentioned above, translators intend to introduce errors because of their human nature. Only a proper translation process can ensure consistent quality. As for translators, they actually do the job, right? The translators’ qualification, experience and background, and even their mood when they work on the job, largely decide the translation quality. However, we do NOT recommend that you choose translation companies based on translator qualifications because it's not easy to qualify a translator in reality. There are no reliable, effective, and efficient ways to identify a good translator. You'd better leave that job to the translation companies. Otherwise, why are you hiring a translation company? Also you will be convinced as we reveal the big SECRET below...

10. Translation companies share translators!

You may want to know 99% of translators are freelance translators. This means they are NOT dedicated to any single translation company. Instead they may work for multiple, even a dozen translation companies. There are a small number of in-house full-time translators in some huge enterprises, but they are too expensive for the rest. If a translation company says they have better (freelance) translators than any other companies, don't believe them!

So what on earth makes the difference?

Process, again. Different translation companies deliver different quality with the same translators because their processes are different. If you want superior quality for your translation project, we'd like to introduce a translation process that can ensure the highest quality standard, which is certainly a bit more expensive.

11. Choose Alternating TEP for important translations

You know T/E/P refers to three processes of translation: translating, editing, and proofreading. So what does Alternating TEP mean? It means any two continuous processes are taken by different translators. For example, if translator A performs a translating task, then the following editing task must be taken by a different translator B.

Why? We tend to ignore or be unaware of mistakes we make ourselves. This is true for everyone including professional translators. The performance may continue to get worse if we ask the same translator to improve his/her own translation again and again. It’s better to alternate translators to improve the work. This achieves much higher efficiency and quality.

12. Ask for the evidence

Just pass on those companies that cannot give you a clear description of their process - they might be ones who don't know how to create a good translation at all! For the others, you should take the next step by asking if they can provide any evidence for the implementation of their processes. You want to make sure they walk the talk, right?

Don't mind the format of evidence. As only those leading players can get their processes clearly defined and tracked, you might need to be flexible with this because most translation companies don't have a formalized process in place at all. The most important thing is that you can be sure they do what they promise. For example, if they promise alternating TEP, ask "How can I know the translation is edited by a different translator?"

13. How do big companies choose translation companies?

They might have a vendor manager who is responsible for choosing translation companies, or translation vendors as they prefer. They might require the candidate to fill out lengthy forms, but the key point is the same - resources and process! How do we know that? We provided translation services to enterprises like Microsoft and Dell for many years!

Well, now you're almost a translation expert. We would now like to give you more tips on how to save on translation without sacrificing quality.

14. Is the location important?

Some translation companies mention it as a strength that they are based in the USA or in the UK. It's true domestic companies give your more confidence and convenience because you're in the same time zone. However, if you want translation quality, keep in mind they will hire freelance translators to do the job. So, where their translators are based is more important than where the translation company is based. As one of the best practices, it's better to use local translators. For example, we'd better use a Japan-based Japanese translator for English to Japanese translation. There might be good Japanese translators in the USA but for sake of safety, we'd better use the ones in Japan.

15. Are bigger companies better?

You might have the impression that large companies do better work than smaller ones. This is not always true. Also the number of languages they work with might give you a wrong impression about their size. In fact a company that supports 100 languages doesn't have to be larger or better than the ones supporting 10 languages. The size of translation companies, if you mean the number of full-time employees, mainly depends on their business model. Their translation processes are definitely more important.

16. Do translation companies offer a money back guarantee?

Not many translation companies offer a money back guarantee for translation quality because defining the translation quality is difficult, not to mention the difficulty of measuring the quality. Again, that's why we emphasize the process. There are a few, not many, translation companies that offer a quality guarantee. If you're lucky enough to meet any of them, be sure to read their terms carefully - not all money back guarantee gives you strong protection.

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

It doesn't matter. Even the translation company's sales representative might not understand it. You can still get a good translation if you follow our tips for choosing the right translation company.

18. Why is translation so slow?

If you ever use a traditional translation company, you know how slow the translation is. You place an order and can't get the translation until a few days or even weeks later, depending on the content, nature and volume. Why can't we get translations quickly?

Translation is just slow. Translation work is detail oriented and labor intensive. The faster a translator works the more mistakes s/he makes. It's a rule that holds for all translators, regardless of their knowledge, skills and capabilities. To ensure an acceptable quality level, translators have to control the speed. The daily maximum of words a translator can put out usually ranges from 1,000 to 2,500 words, depending on the languages, nature of source, and quality requirements.

Collaboration is difficult. For translation projects of millions of words, assigning multiple translators to work on different parts of the source at the same time may speed it up. However, doing so brings inconsistency and requires additional editing. Also, a translator cannot start editing a section until all of its source text has been translated. For small jobs it is even more difficult to assign multiple translators and get translating, editing, and proofreading tasks done by different people in an efficient manner. It requires much more time in planning, communicating and coordinating who will do what and when. Collaborative translation for a turnaround shorter than 3 days is virtually impossible without advanced translation technology.

The business process is inefficient. Last but not least - translation companies have to allocate a large amount of time for non-productive business processes such as contacting the translators, negotiating delivery terms, processing files, orders, invoices, and payment. If you give the translation company three days, the time left for translators might be less than one day.

Disappointing, right? So here is the next tip.

19. Let translation companies propose the time

Even if you have a clear schedule for your translation project, it's better to let translation companies propose a time frame based on their capacity and availability. By letting companies propose a time frame, you can weed out companies that propose unreasonably short turnaround times. Request that they tell you when they can start the translation and when they can deliver. Some companies might accept your order, but cannot start it until the day before the deadline!

20. Don't require quicker turnaround times

If the deadlines they propose don't match your schedule, try other translation companies. The translation service market is highly competitive. To gain more clients, translation companies always give their best turnaround they can meet. Don't try to press the companies to speed it up to fit your schedule. Some companies might compromise, but that might result in a disaster later. If all proposed turnaround times don't match your expectation, your schedule might be unrealistic. Revise it for the sake of quality!

21. Don't beg if they're busy

There might be a time when you contact a translation company and they say their translators are busy and cannot start your job right away. Even if they refuse you, you should appreciate their integrity and frankness. We recommend you contact them again when you have a job to do next time. However, never beg them to help you by inserting your job into the queue - that would break their process and overload the translators, either of which would result in a very poor translation.

22. And avoid being baited

Some bad translation companies might accept your order even if they know the deadline you set is not realistic. When the deadline is approaching or has passed, they may beg you to extend it. You have to extend it because you have made the payment or not much time is left. To prevent this, you can ask if they offer a money back guarantee for timely delivery. Some translation companies do offer a 100% money back guarantee.

23. Are there any quick translation services?

Yes, there are same day translation, overnight translation, or even one hour translation services. However, most will charge you a rush fee. Also keep in mind there is always a trade-off between quality and time. If you do want a quick translation, choose from those online translation service providers who can respond quicker than the traditional translation companies.

24. Reserve more time for translation

Very tight schedules make your translation project risky. You are more likely to underestimate the time needed for translation. Keep in mind translation is time consuming and we have no way to shorten the turnaround time further where the labor limits are reached. If you are not sure how much time to reserve for your projects, you can use our instant quote feature (registration required) or consult us. Both are free with no obligation.

25. Get your "translation window" under control

You cannot start translation before your source texts are frozen. At the same time you must get the translation ready before your products or websites are released. The interval between the two points is the "translation window". To get the translation window under your control, you need to participate in scheduling and tracking both content authoring and content release. You will find the source texts are always being updated but the time-to-market cannot be postponed. If you take action to prevent delay of freezing the source, the translation time can be guaranteed and the quality will be assured.

26. Be aware of minimum fees

Most translation companies apply a minimum charge. When the job size is small, they might give you a higher rate per word or simply charge you a flat minimum fee, say $50. So, be sure to ask what their minimum charge is if you want to get a small job done. The good news is there are some translation companies, again mainly online service providers, that don't charge minimum fees. You can even get a single word or sentence translated at a reasonable rate!

27. Not all translation companies are online

However be aware not all translation companies possessing a website are online translation service providers. Most of them just use the website to generate leads, which means expecting you to call or email them for the service. Even those who have an online price table would not be an online service if they cannot process orders and deliver translations online. In fact, only a small number of translation companies offer online translation services in the real sense of that expression.

28. Use translation memory and save

If you need to update your source text regularly, ask if the translation companies can use a translation memory tool to work on your job and include the TM as a deliverable. Here TM means translation memories instead of trade mark. Your contents may include repeating sentences. With translation memory tools, translators can translate such sentences once and reuse the translation. That brings improved productivity and thus reduced cost. You may ask for a discount for reused translation.

29. You can enjoy TM benefits for free

...unless you need to do complex content management tasks. Also a few but not many online translation service providers have integrated TM tools into their service portal. Some even allow their clients to use the TM tools for free! So, just ask if they offer TM services.

30. Pass if they say localization or globalization

Those companies might position themselves as a localization (L10n as it has 18 characters) or globalization (G18n) company, which offers add-on services on top of translation. You might need localization sometimes, but if now you only want to get some web pages or documents translated, their service might be too much for you.

31. Buy translation online and save!

Yes! Online business usually achieves higher efficiency and thus can offer cheaper prices. You might have noticed we mentioned online translation service providers more than once. Yes, some of them are rising leaders among all translation providers because they can provide better and quicker translation services at a lower cost.

About Translia

As a leading translation company, 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 company, we recommend you try our online professional translation services.