10 questions to ask yourself when preparing a quotation for translation services

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One of the most common and drudging challenges a project manager faces in their daily work is getting a quotation — or many quotations — assessed, produced and delivered to their clients and prospects. Especially when there’s a deadline to get everything done.

If you already have “hard-coded” rates for translation services, you can simply multiply it by the number of words and use a simple tool such as this free one to prepare a professionally looking translation quote online.

But if your translation agency hasn't settled down on the pricing yet, or if you want to approach each project individually, there are many things to keep in mind when calculating the quotation.

We prepared a quick checklist of questions you want to ask yourself when preparing your translation quotation so that you don’t accidentally miss something.

1. What is your base rate?

First of all, think of the rate you want to take for the most common kind of a translation request, in an average-priced language pair, with no additional requirements such as DTP or editing/proofreading. If you’re completely at a loss, average the rates of your last ten orders.

2. What kind of translation is this?

Does the source text include specialist language, such as is the case for technical, medical, legal or financial translations? If yes, you will need to find professional translators specializing in these fields, whose rates are typically higher. Add 30–50% to your base rate.

3. Is this a rare language pair?

Translators in rare language pairs can be harder to find and will generally charge more for their services. So unless this is a language pair that your company specializes in and has in-house translators for, be ready to add 30–50% more to your base rate.

4. Do you quote plain translation, or editing/proofreading as well?

If it’s a critical piece of content that requires a really high-quality translation, you might want to include editing and proofreading in the workflow. Editing costs around 50% of the translation price, and proofreading around half of that, so add 70–80% to your base rate.

5. Can it be a machine translation post-editing project?

Some documents and use cases don’t require a super-diligent translation. For example, if it’s a listing on a travel or e-commerce site, you’ll be quite well off with light post-editing over a machine translation. In this case, you can subtract up to 50–70% from your base rate.

6. Does the source content require pre-processing?

Whether it’s a scanned PDF requiring OCR or a localization file format with lots of untranslatable texts, some documents will have you spend a while before you can submit them for translation. Factor in that time when calculating the overall project price.

7. Does the target content require post-processing?

Similarly, you might need to work on post-translation layout/formatting for PDFs. Sometimes you can do this yourself, other times you’ll need a professional DTP specialist. Whichever the case, make sure to “dilute” the price of those hours/services in your rate.

8. How many translation memory matches do you anticipate?

If you have worked for that specific client before, or if the subject area involves repetitive wordings — say contracts — you might save quite a bit on reusing your translation memory matches. Whether you want to discount the price for your client is up to you of course ?

9. Do you need to prepare & maintain glossaries?

If the job involves potentially long-term work, you might want to start with creating glossaries to avoid quality issues down the road. If you plan to hire a professional glossary creator, don’t forget to include their rate in your translation quotation.

10. How much effort will project management require?

Last but not least, you want your own effort to be included in the fee you charge to the client. It is common to charge 10% for project management, but this will differ greatly depending on the project complexity and your experience working with the current setting.

Now that you have all things sorted out and know what rate you want to charge, it’s time to upload your documents, get the word counts, and download the shiny professional quotation you will send to your client. Here’s a simple, free tool that does just that. Don’t thank us!

Did we miss anything? Do you know any better alternatives? Let us know in the comments!