How to get a Quick Translation Estimate from any Vendor

As a consumer of language services, you often don’t think about translating your documents until the last minute, right?

The good news is that you are not alone.

If you only require occasional translation services, it may come to you as an afterthought in your daily routine, as it does for many others. Once you’re ready to go, you will most likely contact several translation vendors for a quote and go with the one that best meets your project requirements.

As you scramble to get those quotes in from the translation vendors, keep the following points in mind so you can get a fair service comparison. These are the things you need to know to get a quick translation estimate from any vendor.

1. Have Your Files Ready

Emailing a simple description of your translation project won’t get you a quick estimate. Your translation vendor will most likely ask for the files that you need translated.

If you have the files ready, send them to your vendor at the time of your request. That will save you a few back-and-forth emails.

Source files for translation

To make things even more efficient, have your files ready in an editable format such as Microsoft Word. If you compare the same document that was created in MS Word to a scanned PDF version, the MS Word version will almost always cost less to translate.

Some files may contain confidential content. Such files should only be sent through a secure file transfer medium. Clarify your preferred file transmission method with your translation vendor before sending anything.

Your Task: Get access to editable versions of the source files and be ready to send them to your translation vendor.

2. Know Your Audience

You should know a few basic facts about your target audience (end users). The most essential piece of information your translation vendor will need is the language of your end users.

Know your audience

For example, if your end users are immigrants from Mexico that currently live in Seattle, the chances are good that Spanish is their native language.

There are a few cases where you need specify the language and script in more detail. The best example of such a case is the Chinese language.

Translating into Chinese is not as simple as translating into Korean, for example. When it comes to Chinese and a few other languages, you have to consider various spoken dialects like Mandarin and Cantonese and written scripts that go with them – in the case of Chinese, you’d be choosing between Simplified and Traditional characters.

If you do not already know what your end users need, your translation vendor will work with you to determine the best script for your end users.

Your Task: Specify the languages/scripts you need your documents translated into.

3. Know Your Deadline

Since you are already looking for a quick translation estimate, it’s probably true that you need the documents translated quickly. If time is not of the essence to you, you should still have a pretty good idea of your ideal translation turnaround time.

Know your deadline

On average a translator can translate about 2,500 words per day. Add proofreading and quality assurance to the mix, you’re looking at about 2 to 3 days turnaround time for small projects for common languages.

Languages of lesser diffusion, or projects which require advanced typesetting, may require a buffer of at least a day or two.

If you are really in a time crunch, your translation vendor may offer you an option for expedited delivery. As is the case with shipping parcels, be prepared to pay a rush fee for a faster turnaround time.

Your Task: Provide your turnaround time expectations when requesting an estimate.

4. Sample Email Template

Now that you have your source files ready in an editable format, know the languages you need them translated into and have a clear deadline in mind, contact your translation vendor for an estimate.

If you can send your files by email, that’s great! To make things even easier for you, here is a template you can use to request a quick translation estimate.

Simply copy & paste the text below into an outgoing email, customize the bold fields, attach your source files and click Send.


I would like a translation estimate for the attached documents.

Here are the project details:

  • Translate from Language into Language
  • Translated files to be delivered by Date/Time

Please send your estimate to me no later than Date/Time. Do not start the translation until you receive an approval.

Thank you!


Your Name

You can also download this template in a Microsoft Outlook-friendly format here.

Your Task: Simplify getting translation estimates by using an email template.

5. Estimate Response Time

After sending your estimate request to a translation vendor, you should receive an acknowledgement within a few hours. You may even receive an estimate within that time-frame as well.

There are no formal industry standards for how quickly a company should provide you with an estimate. However, for a basic project you should expect to receive an estimate within 24 hours.

Get a translation estimate quickly

I’d recommend you pay close attention to how long it takes for a vendor to acknowledge your request and provide you with an estimate. It will set a tone on how that vendor will treat you going forward.

If you are a serious translation buyer, you should be treated as such. If it takes a vendor more than 24 hours to even acknowledge your request, I would recommend you think twice about doing business with them.

Finally, the estimate you receive should be easy to understand and include all of the relevant data used to calculate the translation price.

Your Tasks: Make sure you receive a timely estimate and that it makes sense to you. Don’t forget to approve the project!

How much will my project cost to translate?

Every translation project is unique, including yours.

Let’s discuss your project specifics, so we can provide you with a ballpark estimate.

For most projects, we can typically provide a ballpark estimate the same day.

Contact us to get started.


Your source documents are ready and now you need them translated. You are inclined to get estimates from various translation vendors to determine which one meets your needs.

You need to receive the estimates quickly, so you can make an informed decision and use your allocated translation budget. Getting translation estimates quickly can be easy.

Remember to gather your files, clarify the language of your end users and determine how quickly you will need the translations completed. These are the things you need to get a quick translation estimate from any vendor.

Share your thoughts in the comments!

10 Best Tools for Creating & Managing Multilingual Content

There is a technical side when it comes to creating & managing content. This is nothing new to you, since you already create great content in English, right? You also know that the tools you create your content with play a big role in your overall content strategy.

You’re now ready to take your English content and translate it into another language. Or perhaps you’re looking to create multilingual content from scratch. As with any project, you need the right tools for the job to make your life easier.

If you already have access to these tools in your organization, that’s terrific! If not, you should consider getting them if you plan on taking your English content and making it available in other languages.

What I will do is provide you with a list of the best tools you can use for creating & managing multilingual content – from basic to advanced – along with tips to help you in your business process.

10 Best Tools for Creating & Managing Multilingual Content

As a busy professional, you can’t waste time. This is why you should learn about the best tools for creating multilingual content and implement them in your organization. Here are the tools:

1. Email

You need to communicate with your translation vendor and email is by far the best way to do this. You can send your English content as an attachment and specify all of the project details in the body of the email. Once translated, the content will be delivered back to you by email.

This makes email by far the most essential tool you will need for creating and managing your multilingual content, as it allows you to communicate with your project team quickly and efficiently.

Email to translator with an attachment

Outlook is a great email tool. I use it on a daily basis.

Additionally, written communication is vital for project record keeping. If a question ever comes up about project instructions or the project needs to be revisited for updating or revisions in the future, written communication is the best and clearest way to retrace the project’s life cycle.

However, as great as it is, email is not meant for all communication. If you need to transmit files that are large in size or contain confidential information, email is not the best way to do it. Use FTP or secure email in such cases.

Pro Tip: Many email servers block ZIP file attachments. To avoid having your attachment blocked, change the ZIP file extension to something else that won’t get blocked or filtered out, like ABC. Then let the recipient know to rename the ABC extension back to ZIP in order to open the file.

2. FTP

FTP, also known as File Transfer Protocol, is a great way to transmit large files that cannot be sent by email due to size restrictions. It’s also great for secure file transfer. If you don’t have one set up on your end, don’t worry. Most translation vendors know how to use FTP and can set you up with an account on their end.

FileZilla FTP Client

FileZilla FTP can be used to transmit files that are too large for email.

Once you finish transmitting and receiving all the files via FTP, don’t forget to delete them from the server. This will free up hard drive space for more files to be transmitted later.

Pro Tip: You can now set up cloud-based portals to transmit files securely. While they’re not true FTP sites, they pretty much accomplish the same thing by allowing you to transmit large files. ShareFile does just that for a small monthly fee.

3. Notepad

Notepad is one of my personal favorites. It’s a very simple tool that can open just about any file out there and display its contents. If you just need to view and edit plain text without any fancy formatting, Notepad is the way to go. You can basically view and edit files in their raw form without worrying about losing markup. Very basic, easy to use and comes standard with almost every operating system out there.

I also use Notepad for real-time project notes as I am working and as a copy/paste staging area. There are other practical uses you can find for Notepad since it’s doesn’t consume many computing resources and is very minimalistic in functionality. I’d be curious to hear how you use it.

Unicode Chinese HTML file open in Notepad++

Traditional Chinese characters inside an HTML file opened in Notepad++

Pro Tip: For advanced file editing, opt for Notepad++. What you get with Notepad++ is usability and readability of files that you don’t get with a standard Notepad application. There are also many options, including encoding for foreign language fonts.

4. Unicode Fonts

If you’re going create any multilingual content, stick with Unicode fonts. When you’re creating content in English, you probably won’t think twice about the technical aspect of the fonts you’re using. You’re more concerned with their appearance and how your target audience will perceive them, right?

The good news is that many common fonts are Unicode, so you are in good shape! You can find an extensive list of Unicode fonts here.

Here is why it’s important that you use Unicode fonts for multilingual content: Each font character has a unique number associated with it which conforms to an international standard for all systems. This makes it easy to distribute all sorts of content across different platforms, programs and languages. Whereas with non-Unicode fonts, you don’t have this flexibility.

Table of Various Unicode Characters


Latin Capital Letter A
Cyrillic Capital Letter Be
Arabic Letter Zah
Hiragana Letter Small A

Unicode Number






Pro Tip: A Unicode number follows this syntax: U+####, where #s are replaced with variable digits and letters associated with a specific character. Here is a cross-reference table you can use. It shows various characters and their corresponding Unicode numbers, and HTML equivalents.

5. Microsoft Office

Word, Excel and PowerPoint are the premier applications of the Microsoft Office suite and have been for decades. The chances are good that you already have them installed.

When you’re ready to create your content, just like I did with this blog article, you are most likely to do it in Word. You will then have the ability to export the text to another application if needed.

Almost all translators and language translation companies work with Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These applications are also designed with other languages in mind, so font compatibility and usage is rarely an issue.

Perhaps the most critical part of all is that the files you save in these applications can be edited.

It’s much easier to translate content when you can easily edit it. If your content can’t be edited (such as a scanned PDF file), it has to be recreated from scratch in an editable format, adding unnecessary costs to the project.

Microsoft Office for Multilingual Content Creation

Word, Excel & PowerPoint can all be used to create and edit multilingual content.
Image Source:

Pro Tip: If you feel confident you can make edits to translated content yourself, you can do so by enabling multilingual keyboard support in Windows. Although, I’d recommend you have your translation vendor with handle this part.

6. PDF Reader/Creator

Portable Document Format (PDF) files are used everywhere in business to present documents and other content in a quick and efficient matter. What makes PDF great is that, like Unicode fonts, it’s cross-compatible across different platforms and operating systems.

There is no doubt you or someone you know “printed a document to a PDF” before. It’s very easy to do with Adobe Acrobat, perhaps the most popular PDF Reader/Creator software on the market.

PDF files are great for showcasing your multilingual documents once they’re created. Content created in Word, for example, might be difficult to share with a U.S.-based audience.

How many people do you know who have fonts for Amharic or Khmer installed on their computers?

I bet not many.

But if you save your multilingual content in PDF format, even readers who don’t have a specific font installed on their computer can usually see the text displayed correctly, as it is generally preserved in PDF format.

PDF is a good way to save costs as well. Instead of printing thousands of user manuals in different languages, you can now provide digital copies to your customers in PDF format.

Apple iPhone User Manual in Spanish

Apple iPhone User Manual displayed in Adobe Acrobat. When was the last time you saw a printed copy of one?

Pro Tip: In case you do end up having trouble viewing non-English text in a PDF file, there’s a way to fix that. You can do so by embedding the fonts in a PDF file upon creating it. Just ask your translation vendor to do this for you.

7. Adobe Creative Cloud

If you’re thinking of creating great visual content and anything that requires advanced formatting, Adobe InDesign and Illustrator are a must. These two applications are now more accessible than ever before, through the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

They’re also great when it comes to supporting different languages and character sets, which is why you’re here, right?

Japanese Translation inside Adobe InDesign

A brochure that was translated into Japanese and typeset in Adobe InDesign

For your next brochure or user manual, I’d recommend skipping Microsoft Publisher – and I’m a fan of Microsoft. It’s simply not robust enough to handle the needs of multilingual content. Go with Adobe InDesign for publishing and layout, and Illustrator for graphics.

Pro Tip: When working on lengthy content, write it in MS Word and then import it into InDesign. Here is a tutorial on how to do that. Also, be prepared to provide the entire InDesign package to your translation vendor. The package includes all fonts and linked files.

8. Translation Memory

Unless you work in a large organization with its own localization department, you probably won’t need to have a translation memory system (TMS) in-house.

However, when you engage a translation vendor to work on your translation project, make sure they’re using a TMS.

Kilgray memoQ Translation Memory

Translated content exported from memoQ TMS in a bilingual table.

Since quality is important to you, a TMS is a must-have tool in your multilingual content creation process. It tracks and leverages previously translated material, and helps to maintain quality and consistency throughout your content. Inconsistencies in translation can lead to customer confusion, and it goes downhill from there.

Pro Tip: If you decide to implement a TMS in your organization’s localization department, give memoQ a try. This tool is easy enough to use for beginners and has capabilities for most advanced users.

9. WordPress

As of January 2015, WordPress is by far the most popular content management system in the world. And it’s one of the best ways to showcase your digital content on the web.

You already learned about Unicode fonts in this article. WordPress leverages the Unicode standard to make multilingual content creation as easy as possible.

Creating a WordPress Blog Post

This blog and website are both powered by WordPress.

There are plenty of other great content management systems out there, such as Joomla and Drupal. From the ease-of-use perspective and ongoing support, WordPress is the way to go.

Pro Tip: Avoid free translation plugins for WordPress. Always have a professional linguist translate your content. Here is what happens when you play it cheap.

10. Social Media

Your multilingual content won’t do you any good if your target audience is not exposed to it. Social media is a great way to spread the word about your content and engage your audience. But before you use Facebook, Twitter or any other social networks, make sure they’re right for you.

Don’t waste your time promoting multilingual content on random social networks if you are not certain people will get your message. Communicating via social media with your audience is important, but must be done right.

Pro Tip: Create dedicated social media communities for specific languages and cultures, like McDonald’s did here. Be prepared to communicate with your customers in their languages.


You’ve now learned about the tools you need to create and manage multilingual content, and some practical use cases associated with them. Depending on the size of your business and the type of content you create, it may not be critical you have access to all of them, but I highly recommend you use at least some.

For project communication, you have email and FTP. For multilingual content creation, you have Notepad, Unicode Fonts, Microsoft Office, PDF Reader/Creator and Adobe Creative Cloud. If you can live without one tool, it’s the TMS, since your translation vendor should be using one on their end. You are now ready to use WordPress and Social Media to publish your multilingual content and share it with your multicultural audience.

Now that you know which 10 tools to use for creating multilingual content, you can apply them in practice within your organization.

What are your experiences with these tools? Do you have more to add to the list?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

The Ultimate Checklist for Your Business Localization Strategy

You are looking to sell your products in other countries, whether directly or through a distributor. Your products are popular in the United States and you believe there is a market for them overseas. In fact, there is data that confirms your beliefs. You’ve also heard the word Localization and maybe saw other companies “localizing” their content, but may not fully understand how it works.

In order for your business to succeed in other countries, you must have a documented localization strategy. What I will do is show you some of the things you can add to your strategy that will set you up for success.

Importance of Localization

Why localize your business content anyway? It seems like a costly endeavor. You might be thinking that you can just provide your content in English and succeed, right?

That thought process will not set you up for success, and I will prove it to you.

Here is how.

I recently went to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for vacation, a wonderful destination to relax and enjoy some sunshine on the beach. My proficiency in Spanish is mediocre at best, so communicating with the locals proved to be a challenge and at times a frustrating experience. Thankfully, many locals in Cabo San Lucas speak a bit of English since it’s such a popular destination for U.S. tourists.

I went to purchase some goods at a local convenience store, including sunscreen, trail mix and other items that I charged to a credit card. When I looked at the receipt I was shocked. The total shown on the receipt was $300. I only bought a few things, how can the total price be that much?

I later realized that the currency displayed was in Mexican Pesos, not U.S. Dollars, even though the $ was shown on the receipt. Understanding that put me at ease, although it wasn’t immediately clear whether the charge was in pesos or in dollars.

Luckily, I also know how to use sunscreen since the directions on the tube were not of any use to me, since they were in Spanish. I can only read some Spanish, but not enough to understand the specifics.

Sunscreen in Mexico

The trail mix that I bought contained a variety of nuts. The package included a nutrition information label, and possibly allergen information as well. Even though I was not allergic to any ingredient in that trail mix, it would have been nice to see allergen information in Spanish as well as in English, since it’s sold to consumers who speak both languages, and food allergies can be life-threatening.

Overall, this made me think of the importance of localization, because as a consumer I was going through a confusing customer experience.

Now, imagine someone buying your product in Mexico that was manufactured in the U.S. and you are expecting them to read the user manual in English. The customer experience will be equally as confusing, and if your product is not intuitive to use, you risk losing that customer for good. And who wants to lose customers? I am sure you don’t.

Checklist Items for Your Localization Strategy

As a business looking to expand overseas, what do you localize? Here are some essential items to include in your localization strategy.

1. Country

When you are looking to localize your content for a specific locale, there is no better example than the country you are localizing for. After all, the country is the location you are targeting. A good example of such localization is for the Spanish language. Spanish is the official language of Spain and is also spoken in many other countries around the world, including Mexico, Argentina and the United States.

Last thing you want to do is have your content translated into Spanish intended for audience from Spain and then distribute it in Mexico. You will create a poor customer experience for the consumers in Mexico, because the dialect of Spanish there is unique to the country and culture.

Select the country, then the language

Another example includes countries where multiple languages are spoken, such as Kazakhstan, where Kazakh and Russian are both official languages. You will have a group of consumers that only understand one or the other, not necessarily both.


Localize content for specific languages and cultures in the target countries.

2. Language

Language translation is perhaps the most important aspect of your localization strategy. When you are expanding into a specific market, you must understand the language of your customers.

A good approach in this case would be to identify the official language or languages in the country you are looking to sell in. For example, in Germany the official language is German. With over 95% of the population speaking German, you are in pretty good shape translating your content into German for that specific market.


Identify the language or languages of the target market.

3. Units

United States remains one of the few countries that don’t use the metric system for measuring units. In other words, when doing business in Mexico or other countries, have a unit conversion calculator handy.

Units to consider include length, area, volume, temperature, mass and weight. Think miles to kilometers and pounds to kilograms conversion.

One important consideration is to tie the units to the locale you are targeting and not to the language you are translating into. This is because different countries display units in different formats.

For example, if your content is translated for the Spanish-speaking population in Portland, Oregon, the translation will be in Spanish, but the units may be displayed according to U.S.-standards.


Localize units based on the target market standards.

4. Date & Time

The way date and time are displayed differ from country to country.

For example, 5/12/15 (mm/dd/yy) is understood as May 12, 2015 in the United States. In many other countries, it would be understood as December 5, 2015 since the local date format is (dd/mm/yy).

Localized Date & Time

This is an important detail, especially for legal documents such as contracts and financial statements.

Date & Time

Format the date & time display for the target market.

5. Currency

When doing business in other countries, be ready for financial transactions using the local currency. If you are selling your products on the internet, display prices in the currency of the countries you are targeting.

Foreign Currency

If you are selling something to consumers in Mexico, and display prices in U.S. Dollars, you will cause confusion.


Quote prices in local currency.

6. Colors

Color psychology plays a huge role in determining how consumers perceive your brand. What may work well in the U.S. market, could have negative effects in China and other countries.

Localize colors to send a positive brand message

Source: The Logo Company

Be prepared have separate brand identities that are localized to specific cultures. This could mean going away from your corporate color scheme.


Research the psychology of colors for your target market and use the colors that will get your desired results.

7. Logo & Slogan

Your logo and slogan are closely related to the colors you use in your brand. Your logo and slogan may have to be adapted to the country you are doing business in. There are many companies that do this successfully, including Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola understands localization & global branding


Again, you want to do this so you don’t offend your target audience and lose their business. When you do it right, you will only gain their trust and establish yourself as a reputable brand.

Logo & Slogan

Adapt logo & slogan to the country/culture you are doing business in.

8. Local Presence & Customer Service

One of the best things you can do for your business is having local representation in your target market. Preferably, the persons representing you are familiar with the local language, culture and customs. It will make customer interaction a lot easier.

Of course, local presence may not be an option for all businesses due to cost associated with it. Alternatively, you can provide customer service in your customers’ language, whether online or by telephone. If you do it by telephone, you can establish an agreement with a telephonic interpreting service provider or hire bilingual staff.

Local Presence & Customer Service

Research local presence & customer service options, including bilingual staff.

9. In-Country Review

A friend recently told me a story about a project his company completed for a multinational manufacturer headquartered in Germany, with production facilities in Poland. The project scope was to “fix” the translations another company completed.

The translations included training and human resources materials for factory workers in Poland. The problem was, that those materials were not well received by the factory workers and didn’t provide the desired results the manufacturer expected.

The reason was that the content was translated for a more sophisticated audience, such as business executives. When the factory workers read it, they found it offensive and felt like they were being talked down to. The translation was simply not the right fit for the target audience.

As part of the fix, my friend’s company hired a team of subject-matter experts in Poland to help localize the translated content in a way which was not offensive to the factory workers. This included in-country review and feedback by a few select workers. With the feedback in mind, changes were implemented in the translated content.

The result was a much more successful training and human resources program that yielded desired results.

In-Country Review

Consider in-country review for your translated content before making it available to your target audience.


You’ve now learned about several aspects of localization and what to include in your business localization strategy.

To position your business for success, you must communicate with your target audience in their language. If they can’t understand your message, they won’t buy from your company.

One way to do this is to translate and localize your business content. And now you have a checklist to help you with your business localization strategy.

Please share your localization story in the comments.