Advice for translation clients

If you have little or no previous experience of procuring translations services and need some advice, here are a few tips to help you provide your chosen translator (either agency or freelance) with the information that s/he needs to produce excellent work.

  • What’s the format of your original document? An editable copy of your original is generally preferred. Some translators may charge extra for working from formats that cannot be edited (e.g. image-based PDFs).
  • In what format would you like your completed translation? PDF? MS Office formats? Hard copy? Please specify which formats are acceptable for the completed work. If a hard copy is required, please say so as most translators return work by email these days.
  • Is there any other work involved besides the translation? Some translation jobs (e.g. legal documents) may require certification/authentication. A translator may charge you extra for this.
  • What language pair is involved?Translation involves language pairs called the source and target languages: the language of your original document is the source; the language of the translation is the target.
  • Please be realistic about deadlines. Translators are not multilingual copy typists; one awkward word or abbreviation can hold up a translator for half an hour or more! Consequently, most translators produce 2,000-3,000 words per day. Don’t leave commissioning a translator till the last minute; giving the translator sufficient time for the work in hand is essential.
  • Can you supply a glossary or reference materials? Many clients have terms they would like translated in a specific way; many have in-house terminology or abbreviations that your translator needs to know about. Please supply the glossary or reference materials as quickly as possible – ideally before the translator returns the completed translation!
  • Please provide a good quality, legible original for your translator to work on. That means no files written entirely in 6 point Arial, as well as no scans of documents that look as if they’ve been on the floor for the last 6 months or have passed through every fax machine in Christendom. 🙂
  • Do you have a contact person who can answer questions from the translator? This is vital if you’re working with a freelance; it helps save your time and aids the translator in producing high quality work.
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