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Translation Deadline

How to Estimate the Deadline for a Translation Project

A translation deadline is an important consideration when you are thinking about translating a piece of content. The translation services that your company needs may not be available in the time frame that you have allotted for translation, or it may come at a higher cost than what was anticipated.

In order to avoid these problems, it can be helpful to first estimate how long a translation will take and then set a realistic deadline accordingly. Keep reading to discover how you can estimate translation deadlines.

Factors to Consider When Estimating a Translation Deadline

The rough estimate is usually 2000-2500 words per day, which equals 8-10 pages (of 250 words each, approximately). We are speaking of an 8-hour workday.

However, this estimate will always be imprecise because of the number of factors that need to be considered. For example:

The complexity of the text

A blog article is not the same as a machinery manual or a pharmaceutical drug analysis. Each type of text requires a different degree of research, terminological work, etc.

Availability of reference material

The more reference you provide your translator with, the less time they will need to spend researching and studying before beginning the translation. 

How clear the original document is

If the document has unclear or illegible passages, lacks logic or presents any other defects, the translator will need time to make sense of it, solve the problems, consult with you on them, etc.

The software used

Some professionals translate from scratch while others rely on translation memories to speed up their productivity.

Whether you hire only one translator or a whole team

The more people involved in the project, the faster the turnaround. That’s why here at Crisol we always involve more than one expert in every project.

The length of the document

If a project requires several days of work, the number of words a translator can complete per day will vary. It may take them a while to get familiar with the subject at first, and then they will translate more quickly.

The specifics of your assignment

If you have hired a professional linguist to only translate a text, they will deliver faster than if you ask them for TEP (translation + editing + proofreading). The rates vary accordingly, as well.

What translation method will be used

Some content types require special services such as transcreation or blind transcreation (a mid-point between copywriting and creative translation), which usually take more time than simple translation.

Whether the translation needs certifying

Some legal translations require the translation to be certified before it can be used in court or other legal proceedings. This, too, will add time to the translation deadline.

My Translator Says Their Output is 10,000 Words a Day

Careful! If this person told you they are working on their own, 10k words a day is unrealistic. It’s highly probable that they are using machine translation to speed up the process! This poses a serious risk to quality, so you want to be wary.

While machine translation has progressed considerably in recent years, translation done from scratch still comes out with much better quality than translation using translation memory software. This is especially true for the translation of complex or highly creative texts, such as legal documents, marketing materials, or websites. For translation of this kind, you should insist on translation from scratch.

My Translator Asked Me for an Urgency Surcharge

As explained in an article by Nation 1099, most freelancers will eventually have a client contact them to say they need something done urgently.

As this restrains the translator’s capacity to deal with other projects or alters their management plan by pulling resources away, they usually charge a rush or urgency fee. In other words, to complete your project in an urgent manner, the translator will need to do one of the following:

  • Spend their time on something that pays less than their usual activities
  • Stop working on their business plan
  • Stop getting more prospective clients into their pipeline
  • Work nights or weekends

This is why the less time you give your translator, the more they will charge you. Take it into account next time you hire a linguist.

My Translation Vendor Wants to See the Original Document Before Estimating a Translation Deadline

This is a good sign. It means your translation vendor is professional and treats translation as a serious business with integrity. You can expect them to deliver you quality translation if they have clearly defined requirements from the very beginning.

It’s also common for translators to ask that you sign a translation contract or translation service agreement, which outlines all the details of their translation services and stipulates that they agree not to misappropriate any proprietary, confidential, or legally protected information.

Bottom Line: Clear Communication Is Key for Translation Deadline Estimation

Good translation isn’t just about the translation, it’s also about communication. When your translation vendor and you both clearly understand what deliverables you expect from each other and when by, then you will avoid miscommunication and have a better translation experience.

Always try to set reasonable translation deadlines. This will ensure that your translation vendor does not deliver their work too late and avoid last minute rush fees. If anything is unclear, ask for clarification before agreeing on even an approximate translation deadline.

When both parties keep their end of the bargain, then translation can be an efficient process that delivers quality to its audience on time and within budget.

Translation isn’t easy; it requires time, money, and effort from everyone involved. A good translator will deliver before or right on time if they respect their clients and are honest with them.

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