Tips for Saving on Translation Costs

Save on translation costs

Did you know that you have some kind of power over your translation costs? There are a few things you can do or implement in your business to reduce them. Some tips might sound like a little bit more work at the beginning, but you will thank me later for the great savings!

1. Provide your documents in an editable format

Translation tools can help process documents in almost every existing format, but there might be a price attached to that. I have rarely seen a perfect conversion of a non-editable file. If you send a PDF for translation, it is almost sure that some time will be necessary to adjust the layout of the target document. On my end, I always clearly indicate separately in the quote the time required for the layout work (in hours), but some agencies or translators might incorporate this work into their regular rate (per word).

To help you implement this and lower your translation costs, here is a list of editable file formats easily processed:

  • Microsoft Office Suite
    • Word (DOC, DOCX…)
    • Excel (XLS, XLSX…)
    • PowerPoint (PPT, PPTX…)
    • Etc.
  • Open Office Suite
    • Writer (ODT)
    • Calc (ODS)
    • Impress (ODP)
    • Etc.
  • iWork from Apple
    • Pages (PAGES)
    • Numbers (NUMBERS)
    • Keynote (KEY)
    • Etc.
  • Notepad (TXT)
  • Rich text format (RTF)
  • HTML files
  • XML files
  • CSV files
  • XLIFF (bilingual file that can be processed by almost any translation tool)

2. Write in a consistent manner

If your translator uses a translation memory, you might benefit from degressive rates. This means that new text will be charged 100% of the rate and that repetitions will be subject to a lower rate (75%, 66%, 25% or less of the regular rate).

In some cases, you need to create new content, express original thoughts or translate something that you have never translated before in your business. That is absolutely normal. In other instances, you can benefit from writing in a consistent way because the translation tool will detect more matches with the translation memory, therefore providing you more savings on translation costs! Here is some content that you can easily harmonize:

  • Titles (of documents, chapters, sections, programs, etc.)
  • Job/position titles
  • Disclaimers, waivers, terms and conditions, confidentiality policies and other legal notices
  • Contact information: addresses, phone numbers and emails
  • References and sources
Style Guide icon

You can provide this information to your team by building a style guide (which will be explained in another article). If you have a communications department or a person in charge of communications, they will be familiar with this concept, but if not, your translator can create a custom style guide for you. This is an investment profitable in the long term. The style guide also enhances your corporate image by standardizing your documents.

3. Plan space for the translation

This simple measure will allow you to save on layout fees. Did you know that French takes about 10% more space than English? And a translation from English to German might take up to 15% more space. This is mainly due to the length of the words, the number of characters in the words and the use of prepositions. Since English has the quality to embed complex notions in single words, it is often shorter than a lot of languages, including French.

So if you have to translate this kind of dense document into French and need to keep all the information on a single page, you might have no choice but to reorganize the layout…

English poster for translation into French

4. Make sure the document to be translated is final

While there might be some occasions where you need to start the translation of a document before its final version is approved, it is more cost-effective to send the final version to your translator. Make sure that all people who needed to review the original document have done it before the translation starts — managers, supervisors or senior directors.

Et voilà! If you implement these four principles in your business, you will surely save on translation costs at the end of the year. You’re welcome!

If you found this article helpful, you might be interested in reading this one: How much does a translation cost?

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