Don’t just look at the price
…often the product that is economically the most convenient does not give the best quality… especially if the text to be translated concerns legal matters, you may run risks if you choose the lowest price! A small saving today may lead to severe damage tomorrow… not only at the economic level, but also and above all at the level of image…
If the price is low there is a reason, and these are the situations that lead to the infamous translations of very poor quality, full of misunderstandings, nonsense and errors in both grammar and style. Always choose a professional translator with years of experience in your particular sector. This will protect you against bad experiences.
Mind the times
Urgency comes at a price! This applies to all sectors, and all the more in the case of translations at a professional level, because the human brain cannot be replaced by an assembly line operating 24 hours a day. Translating activity requires minimum times that cannot be compressed.
It is best to be on your guard against anyone who never turns down a request for a translation, no matter how urgent it may be. Often you will end up with a translation done using automatic translation software and then rapidly revised.
It may also be suggested that the text be divided between a number of translators. Be careful! This will affect the quality and coherence of the final product. Even supposing that all the translators involved do an excellent job, each one will have a different style and the end product will not be homogeneous, but written by different “minds”.
Even if they are feasible, urgent translations mean that all current projects have to be stopped, priorities and deadlines have to be rescheduled, and several translators may even have to work simultaneously, requiring a subsequent check of consistency. All these additional activities inevitably involve a surcharge which may vary depending on the urgency and the length of the texts to be translated.
Give the translator the final version of the document
Send only the final text for translation: this is important to save money and obtain the best quality in the translation. In fact, modifications while work is in progress cause additional costs and increase the probability of error.
Do the simplest advice we can give is: only send the final version to be translated.
But when this is not possible, it is good practice to highlight any changes made, so that the translator can concentrate only on updating the altered parts.
To avoid the risk of errors, especially in the specific case of financial statements, it is recommended not to send more than 3 versions (the so-called “revision controls”) for each financial statement.
Lastly, remember that for all documents intended to be published or for legal use, to which several people may have contributed at different times, it is advisable to ask your translator to correct the proofs of the final document (“OK for printing”).
Draw up a company glossary and keep it up to date
Many sectors use what may be called “jargon”: a set of terms, expressions and turns of phrase typical of that sector.
It is often believed – erroneously – that a good technical translator should have a perfect knowledge of the sector jargon. There are thousands of sectors and different niches, and each one uses a different jargon.
In the absence of references, a good technical translator has to devote a lot of time to research on terminology. This time may even be much greater than the time spent on translating alone.
In these cases the presence of a glossary is a great help and allows the translator to be faster and more precise.
The glossary is also an asset for the company
It promotes the use of the same language in different documents and at different times, while always maintaining consistency of terminology.
Technical and specialised dictionaries are very useful during translation. However, some sectors and some companies use terminology that no dictionary considers and in these cases only a company glossary can solve the problem.
Supply the texts in the right formats …
Make sure that the files to be translated can be completely overwritten, including any graphs and tables. Otherwise it is important to try to obtain editable files, to avoid any graphic work that would result in additional costs and to ensure greater productivity and lower costs.
In fact, the cost of the translation also depends on the format of the text.
The easiest text to translate is in Microsoft Word (doc and docx) or similar formats, such as odt for OpenOffice.
Other editable text formats are also easy to work with, for example txt, rtf ecc…
Less easy than Word but still absolutely feasible are electronic spreadsheets, (Excel, Lotus, and others) and slides (PowerPoint and similar).
But often, especially slides, they require rearrangement of the pages of the document after translation and this may involve considerable additional costs.
What formats are absolutely to be avoided? Texts that cannot be edited, because they require text entry work and the graphic recreation of the document.
The worst document to translate is one that is sent by fax (especially if barely legible). The same applies to scanned documents and images.
Considering its widespread use, a few words must be said about the pdf format, which in order to be translated requires that the document be recreated also at graphic level (DTP), leading to increased costs.
There are various software tools on the market allowing the user to obtain a Word document from a pdf, or which recognise characters (OCR) from a fax, for example. Unfortunately, even in the most fortunate cases, they require an enormous amount of manual rearrangement to obtain a satisfactory result.
Lastly, beware of pdf with copy protection: they prevent any exporting of the text to other editable formats, thus resulting in higher costs.