10 rules for getting the best price for translations

In translation, like in any other sector, the more complex your project, the more time-consuming it is, and the more time-consuming it is for our team, the more expensive it will be.

In order to give you a clearer picture, we’ve listed 10 factors that impact the best price for translations.

1 – Start from French

Despite my small addition, we are, in fact, a French translation agency.  The majority of our clients request we translate from French. So, it’s logical we have an enormous amount of resources and projects in French, which, in turn, gives us the possibility to negotiate advantageous partnerships with translators from French.

The cost of a translation will, therefore, be less starting from French. 

2 – Translate to European languages

We achieve nearly 80% of our turnover translating documents from French to other major European languages: Dutch, English, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. By the same aforementioned reasons, we are able to negotiate the best rates on these languages.

3 – Word or Excel files

When you send us Word files, we have little extra work beyond verifying if any possible images must be translated.

It’s a bit more complex for Excel files, because we must verify which tabs and columns are actually meant to be translated. That said, it’s still less complex than handling PDF, idml, json or other files which require precise filters on one of our new CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools.

However, if we are translating your website, we still prefer working from your source files than with copied and pasted Word files. For one, it’s easier for you to reintegrate the translated content into your site, and it helps make sure that everything was translated properly.

Generally, the more time we must spend on a project, the more it will cost.

4 – No rush


I’m sure you’re well aware, it’s expensive to put a rush on anything! However, it’s not always easy to understand what requires a rush service when you aren’t sure of how long a project should take. That is why we let you know exactly what to expect with a normal urgency request before you have to request a rush. What’s more, putting a rush on a project may cost an additional 30%.

5 – All in one (and not a lot of small files over time)

It’s better to send us one 2,000 word document than to send us ten 200 word documents!

Why? Each time you send us a project, your project manager will have to perform a number of actions to prepare it for translation, actions that they must only perform once if you send your 2,000 word document.

However, if the very nature of your project requires numerous documents to be translated constantly and quickly, we can make a simplified translation platform available to you. Your documents will automatically be passed to your assigned and approved translators.

6 – Translation memory and glossary

If you already have a translation memory or glossary, it may help to reduce your final cost. Don’t forget to talk to us about it!

All reference documents are welcome! They will help our translators immerse themselves in your sector, and help them understand and use the vocabulary unique to your company.

We can never say it enough, but a good initial brief is worth more than gold!

7 – Send us your final version

It’s often the case that the file a client sends us when initially requesting a quote evolves and changes before we receive the final validation to begin translating. Obviously any additional work will be billed, so think about waiting for the final version! It’ll be easier for everyone, especially if your colleagues wrote another ten pages. The initial quote won’t be worth anything at all at that point!

8 – Avoid school holidays!

avoid working on holiday

Many of our freelance translators chose this career for the style and pace of life it allows. So, it isn’t rare that a number of our translators take school holidays off with their children. That is why if you want to optimize your translation cost, we invite you to contact us outside of school holidays. Otherwise we will be able to contact our back-up translators, though if we use them as back-ups, it’s probably because they request higher than average rates. And that may have an impact on the cost of your translation.

That said, if you’d like to await the return of your regular translator, that’s entirely up to you! It’s so rarely the case that the projects we manage aren’t on tight deadlines…

9 – Context elements to avoid time consuming research

Sometimes our clients send us “wording” files: a list of all the small messages that a web-surfer may run across while searching any random website (“Your shopping cart is empty” for example). Often these lists are made of short two or three word phrases. Far from being easy to translate, these phrases are often the most complicated for our translators because they completely lack context! If you don’t think to send us screen shots corresponding to these files, our translators are going to have to spend an enormous amount of time researching where your users will run into this or that phrase.

10 – Avoid sending us the same content multiple times (honestly, it’s already happened!)

You may find it funny, but it wouldn’t be unheard of for multiple people within the same organization to send us the same document multiple times. And since we often work with pairs of translators, it is possible that no one at TradOnline will notice the error. Think about communicating internally and share your translation needs. Good organization is often the start of good savings!