If you take a moment to learn a bit more about the translation process you will learn what questions to ask in order to reduce the translation cost. Like anything else, the cost of translation services can get expensive so it may be tempting to throw your business materials into google translate or having a non-professional linguist translating your important material to save costs, however, this can damage your reputation, result in embarrassing mistakes and can harm your company’s credibility and trustworthiness. Luckily, there are a few ways to reduce the translation services costs without compromising on the quality of the translation.

First, you need to know how translation companies charge and what you’re paying for. The translation price is typically based on the number of words, the number of pages to be translated, or the amount of time and expertise the translator must use or have in order to complete the translation which is reflected in the translation rate charges.

When you compare vendor translator costs you need to ask yourself what level of service they are providing. Is translation done simply all in one go, or will it be edited also? – and how about proof checking? Do the translators have a process in place of ensuring consistency?

Oftentimes translation is seen as a commodity, but it’s important to ask the translation company the level of experience of the translators and the steps they take when creating the translation to make sure you’re getting the best value for a professional translation.

Translation Fee Structure

  • Content TEP Translation, Editing, Proofreading: translation rate per word
  • Desktop Publishing (DTP): Per page or DTP rate per hour
  • Language Review: Review rate per hour
  • Editing and Proofreading of legacy text: review cost per hour or editing rate per word
  • Voiceover: per minute of audio or set fee, depending on number of recording artists required



One way to cut down on translation costs is to simplify your content so that it is concise and to the point or select only part of the content for translation. You can get rid of any particular length paragraphs and provide only the most important information to a client base in a specific geographic locale. Or there may be pages and sections that might be reduced and you will see that the bill for your translation is smaller and you are still able to afford a quality translation at the fraction of the cost – and you may afford to translate the text into additional languages.


Ask the translation company if the content can be checked for repetitions. On a basic level, repeated content leveraging is exactly that; repeated strings that can be recycled by the translators and translated at a greatly lowered cost. For example, there may be repeating terms such as letterhead content or disclaimer statements nearly identical and repeated on all pages. As the translation company normally set the translation fee per word, you want to make sure they have a method to leverage the translation so you don’t pay for translating the same paragraph over and over again – remember you’re paying per number of words in the source content. Localization agencies with transparent processes should also be able to leverage so-called fuzzy matches.

Within the translation and localization industry, there is localization software that helps the translator identify repeated words – but also partially repeated and partially matching words within segments. Such words are called fuzzy matches. If you have previously translated content, or if you have e.g a legal or financial or technical content with terms frequently occurring you may be able to get a much better price if you hire a localization agency well versed in content leveraging. This technique is not only cost saving but also ensures consistency of the translation as it enables identification of the repeated terms and matching its translation.


If you have content that you need updated over time you can ask the translation agency to build a Translation Memory. For larger projects with larger volumes that needs to be updated over time, this tool is indispensable as it retains legacy translation and enables the translators to store the translation and only update freshly created content at a fraction of the price. If you already have professionally translated existing content it’s always best to share it with the translation agency and to check if they’re able to build a translation memory from the source, or a term-base. Translation memories can be great cost savers for companies translating a lot of content.


If you’re on a budget and willing to put in some time yourself there are ways to save even more money by getting organized.

Collate the material

Properly organizing your files and content can often reduce translation costs. Collect all materials and bundle as many files that are available per handoff to the translators instead of sending them file by file. This accomplishes two things; namely first reducing any minimum fee applicable. Translation agencies typically charge by the word, but for small volumes, they normally have a flat minimum fee in place so by handing off more content per request you avoid the minimum fee and ensure you get their best per word rate. Secondly, it allows for the translation agencies to leverage any repeated content between files which can save you money as well.

Source Preparation

If the translation budget is the main concern, you may also consider only paying for their core expertise –translation! To do this take a moment to check the state the source documents before passing it on to the translation agency.

As yourself:
Are you sending scanned documents or text saved as images (.jpg files)?
Are you sending PDF files with text, graphics, images or infographics?
Are you asking them to translate spoken audio or video?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions please step into the shoes of the translation agency for a second. The files they just received from you can’t have the translation ‘inserted’ directly into the files as the files are un-editable. The processing, therefore, involves tasks like transcription (typing out the content) from the source files. For large files, this can be time-consuming. It may also involve working with an OCR (Optical Character recognition program) to recreate the source, or typing out narration of audio to create a source-script for the translators or typing out text that is embedded inside of images.

While most localization agencies are more than happy to help with this, it actually has nothing to do with translation and the truth is typing out text is something that most office workers will be able to do themselves.

Another tip is to retrieve the original source working files the PDF was exported from. If you send the original editable source file the translation team doesn’t need to recreate the source. This format can be InDesign, PPT, word, illustrator. If a design company created it for you give them a call and ask for the work files in addition to the PDF, after all, it will save you money and you already paid the design company for it.

Make sure the design company (or marketing department) sends you the complete file package with any font included, folder with images and that the text is still editable and that the text is not converted to outlines. Outlines are when you save out text as graphics so is no longer editable.
Photoshop files should be retrieved and passed on with each element in separate layers PSD format so that your desktop publisher and localization company can quickly edit your graphics.

Translating an audio file? Ask someone within your company to type out the audio narration and ask someone else to double check and send the transcript to the translation agency. This way you save money by waiving the transcription fee. Another cost-saving action is to type out text contained within images and save out as an editable source document, this saves time for the translation firm and reduces desktop publishing fee.

If you are translating e.g flatten documents in PDF such as scanned company certificates, diplomas, in addition to retyping the document if you have access to Microsoft Word you can draft a mock-up layout corresponding to the original source to save more on desktop publishing fees.


A good way to cut translation costs is to reduce the number of edits required by ensuring the content is final. Ensure the file you send to the translator is final. If you know it’s a draft only, it makes more sense to wait to pass on the file to the translator until the source content is finalized as resending the file will most likely incur additional costs. If you are working with version control and release of newer versions and resending updated source is inevitable, then try sending it in the same format so the translators can easier leverage the legacy translation and update the translation with the changes to keep the cost of updating the document under control.

Oftentimes translation agencies offer one round of revision of the translation they create for free. You should also set up a system so that everyone who needs to review the translated document can do so before edits are sent back to the translator as one reviewed translation. If you send edits prematurely on the same translated text or revision by different reviewers that contradict each other, you may incur additional costs.

Can Google Translation Save you money?

We’re often asked; ‘Can you edit a Google translation’? The short answer is, it’s faster and cheaper to translate from scratch. Editing a google translation will not save any cost. Automated translation identifies the exact meaning of a word and gives a translation based on that, not on the context surrounding it. Therefore Google translation’s confusing sentences are harder to work with, it’s also hopeless with idioms. We sometimes receive google translated texts as an editing job without the original source. This is very risky as the editor may not be forewarned a poor translation was, in fact, a word by word translation of an idiom which results in an inaccurate translation. A popular American idiom is “hit the books” which means to study. Translating this word by word may make your target audience think they should beat up popular literature!


Don’t wait until the last minute to translate your content. Sure, there may be unforeseen circumstances but if you have translation projects in the pipeline such as localizing your entire website or translating 100 page don’t’ send it to the translation company on Thursday afternoon if its due on Monday, you may end up paying rush fees that can break your bank. As with almost any other service available today, rushing a job can result in additional fees. Be sure to adequately plan out your translation job ahead of time so that you and your business have plenty of time to have it completed before your materials are needed.

To receive more advise or a quotation, please get in contact with the VEQTA Team today.