translation services project timeline
How Long Does a Translation Project Take?
January 16, 2020
Multilingualism - languages
Celebration of Mother Language Day
February 6, 2020

Translation Services Pricing Guide

Translation Services Company

Last updated on June 23rd, 2023 at 01:46 pm

Translation Services Cost

How Much for a Translation Project?

One of the most common questions asked about translation projects is, how much will it cost?  Establishing a budget is important for the client and for the translation company. There are many factors that affect how much a translation project will cost.  We want to explain some of those factors as well as tell you how you can save money and be as efficient as possible when requesting translation services.

One of the first things you’ll want to ask your translation company is what units they use for pricing.  For instance, your translation company might charge by word, by character, by hour, by page, or use a flat fee. That unit will depend on the type of work needed for your project.

Read on to find out the most important components of a translation company’s pricing structure.

How Translation Services Are Priced

Type of Translation Services Project

There are different pricing structures for different types of translation projects since different projects require different steps and activities to complete the translation process. For example, if your document is a PDF without the source document, that PDF needs to be converted into an editable text and some file preparation might be required.  In a long document, that can amount to hours of work. That will not be the case with a simple Word document were file preparation is not needed.

Another example is an InDesign file.  After the translation of a document in InDesign, the translated content will require adjustment or typesetting work due to contraction or expansion of the target language.  That work will be done in InDesign to make the document ready for printing or publishing, and is usually charged per page or per hour depending on the project.

There are other translation services projects that have more complexity in their execution.  For example, video translation and website translation.  In video translation you have transcription of the audio as the first step, a timecode to create the restriction in time, translation processes restricted or delimited by the time code, and the generation of a voiceover file or a subtitle file.  All those activities will be impacted by the size of the video, and pricing is based on the steps needed and on the length of the video.

In the case of a website translation project, often our engineers are required to extract content for translation, publishing or return of the translated content into the website plus time for testing and verification of the display.  All that work is usually charged by the hour on top of any translation work.

Translation Pricing by Industry

The industry the project is based on will influence how much it will cost.  If you have a medical paper to be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that is going to require the work of an industry professional fluent in the source language, the target language, and medical terminology, plus years of experience in medical translation.  That is going to cost more than a one-page marketing flyer.  If you have a thick HR manual, that is going to cost something different than some legal witness statements. The complexity of the subject matters within the specialty is also a pricing factor, glossary development and research might be needed and that impacts the work.

Consider localization as well.  A marketing presentation that needs to be localized by native professionals for Spain and Mexico will require time for the localization of the piece after the translation work is done.

Translation Pricing by Language Combination

Languages that are widely spoken will cost less to translate than less commonly spoken languages. There are fewer professional translators available for Haitian Creole than for Spanish for Latin America.  Also, some language combinations are less commonly translated into each other.  Consider a situation where you have content in a website written right to left in Arabic, and you need it translated into English written left to right.  That is going to cost more than a document of equivalent length translated from Latin American Spanish into North American English.  Common languages like Simplified Chinese will be priced differently than languages like Hebrew, spoken by a much smaller population.  Also consider dialect.  The variety of French spoken in Canada will need a different translator than the translator for French for Africa or French for France, and they might have different rates for translation.

Translation Pricing by Project Volume

A long document is naturally going to cost more than a few pages. Depending on the subject matter and language combination, the translation company may use machine translation software for a first draft and then a professional for post-editing.

Within the volume of a large project you might have repetition of content that will share repetitions in the translation, which will help reduce cost.  This highlights the importance of using CAT Tools for consistency and reusing previously translated content.

Another element that impacts a translation services quote are the steps in the execution. If the content is translated by only one translator, the cots will be lower than a translation that follows a 2 step approach using 2 professional translators, one as a translator and the other as a reviewer.

The approach to translation in a project might change the pricing. So always make questions about the level of service you are receiving to compare apples to apples, and to understand the workflow followed by the translation company.

Translation Pricing by Turnaround Time

A rush job is going to cost more than one that has been planned and has a team reserved.  Always try to plan in advance to ensure that the project is executed with the best workflow and quality control, and that the translation company has enough time to select the best resources.  We have professionals available and ready when you need them, but we also want to fit into your budget.  No matter the timeframe, we will evaluate the elements of your project and offer options for the execution of the translation services project to help you make an informed decision.

Translation Pricing by Formatting

Are you working with a simple Word document?  Or do you have a lot of graphics like captioned images, tables and graphs?  What about videos and audio files?  Every layer of complexity is going to change the level of time and effort, and thus cost, involved.  Again, translation often involves text expansion and contraction, which can affect the look of a piece.  JR Language offers formatting and DTP services to make your material look polished in every language version.

How to Save Money on Professional Translation Services

We want every client to be confident that they’re getting the best translation services available at an affordable rate.  When you’re planning for a translation project, take the following tips into consideration to save money.

  • Create your own glossary and style guide. If you have industry terminology that is repeated, having a prepared glossary will save time and money.  A style guide promotes consistency and brand uniformity while a glossary helps industry accuracy.  This way, the translation company can save time by using the resources you provide.  These elements are also useful internally for the client.
  • Plan ahead. Never leave a translation project to the last minute if at all possible.  Contact the translation Services Company early to understand what you need to provide. Gather everything you need translated so nothing gets left out.  Keep in mind, there may be a discount for a certain level of volume.
  • Have your source content ready so re-work is avoided.
  • Identify and country reviewer, if you have one in your organization, and get him involved from the beginning.
  • Be responsive and provide your translation company the files and information they ask for in the format requested. JR Language assigns a project manager to each translation job for efficiency and consistency.  We keep lines of communication open at all times, and we always want feedback from our clients.

Translation Services the cost of opportunity – Getting what You Pay For

A low cost may be attractive at first glance, but you want the best for those who will be using your translated work.  If a translation company charges rock-bottom prices, that might mean that they aren’t using professionals or are skipping steps.  If you are in a specialized industry, that could spell disaster.

When scouting for a professional translation company, look for one that has gotten good reviews consistently.  Shop around and get quotes from multiple companies.  Ask to see examples and learn about their technologies and workflow so you can compare it to other translation companies.

Contact JR Language today and tell us all about your project so we can work up a Translation Services quote that will fit into your budget and give you the professional, accurate, and perfectly localized translation you will be proud to use.


Sergio Ruffolo
Sergio Ruffolo
Sergio has more than 25 years of multinational experience providing consulting services and leading IT organizations in Africa, Asia and America, which has given him plenty interesting and insightful lessons to teach about global business. He is fluent in Spanish and English, in addition to conversational Portuguese. He has lived in more than 12 cities around the world, moving around and working in different cultures has left him with a real global perspective. Sergio is a real citizen of the world.