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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...


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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.

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