How much will my translation cost? 

January 29, 2018

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Failing to incorporate professional translation into your global marketing budget could end up costing you dearly. Typing ‘translation fails’ into a search engine produces an eye watering array of embarrassing translation errors, many from large household names with extensive budgets. However amusing these may appear to an outsider, these translation errors would have caused considerable embarrassment to the corporations involved, and could have created significant financial losses.

The cost of translation mistakes

While not all translation errors are as sensational, simple lack of clarity or inconsistent tone of voice can lead to confusion in foreign markets. Authenticity and credibility are essential to ensuring your company will be taken seriously by customers and stakeholders. Potential customers are put off by poorly-written or confusing content, which will create an impression of poor quality control and a lack of respect for your target audience.

Your decision to use a translation service could affect whether your venture is a success, or a failure. So, how much should you pay for translation services and how do you evaluate the quality of the service provided? The first step is to consider all your options and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Free translation software

While free translation software can help you understand the general gist of a document, the purpose of this software is to help you interpret foreign documents which have not been written in your language. The software is not yet capable of producing reliable outward- or client-facing copy - and will often provide clumsy literal translations for sensitive cultural references.

While translation software has undoubtedly advanced, even the most sophisticated software cannot generate translations of the quality required for commercial content.

Cheap translation services

Choosing the least expensive company may initially appear to make financial sense, but it is important to consider what makes such low costs possible. Low prices and fast turnaround are often an indication of work outsourced to unqualified freelance translators or language students. So the work may not be of the required standard to start with, and may not have been proofread for consistency and accuracy. A translator working in isolation is also less likely to identify their own mistakes.

Quality translation services

Quality translations are rigorously checked at multiple stages by experts. The translations are performed by a professionally qualified translator fluent in the original language, a native of the target language, and also experienced in producing commercial copy. The copy should then be proofread by a second translator to ensure the content is accurate and appropriate for the readership.

Quality matters

When assessing costs, you should consider that it will take a professional translator almost as long to create the translation as it took for your company to generate the original text. This is because the same quality checks apply; the tone, grammar, flow and brand messages must all be tailored for your local markets and must be culturally relevant.

While a translation company will come at a price, the service should be calculated within your marketing budget. A service that prevents public embarrassment or loss of reputation and enhances sales is invaluable in the long term.

Quality translations from AST

At AST we provide translation services for over 65 commercial languages from around the world. We specialise in producing multilingual commercial copy for a variety of sectors, including industry, finance, legal and global branding.

To find out more about our range of translation services, or to obtain a no obligation quotation, contact our friendly team on 0115 970 56 33 or email

The Translation Guide

James Hunt

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