7 Documents All Health Care Providers Should Have Translated

As a health care provider, you already know that you may be required by law to provide language access to your patients. The cost of providing interpreters is already part of your budget, right?

You might as well leverage it to provide a better patient experience and reduce your risk exposure.

A good way to do this is to have certain documents translated into the languages spoken by your patients. I will share my experience with you in helping hospitals and clinics provide translated content for their patients.

You will also be able to download several templates that were translated into Spanish for use in your practice. Read on to find out more!

For those of you in a hurry, download the templates now by clicking here and comeback when you have time to read the article.

Narrow down the languages

Before you hire a company or a translator to translate your health care documents, figure out your most frequently requested languages. I bet Spanish is probably your top language other than English.

According to Pew Research, by 2020 there will be 41 million Hispanic Spanish speakers in the United States, and not all of them speak English.

Hispanic Spanish Speakers in the U.S.

Translation can get expensive as you add more documents and languages. If you are going to have your documents translated into just one language, I’d recommend you choose Spanish.

Here is more on how translation pricing works.

Gather your documents

As you get ready to have your documents translated, you should first gather them all together. The last thing you want to do is take a paper copy of a document, scan it in and send it off to your translation vendor.

That scanned copy is most definitely going to be low quality and will need to be retyped.

Avoid scanning documents when possible

And retyping leads to additional costs.

What you should do is provide your translation vendor with the documents in an editable format such as MS Word. Editable files are much easier to work with.

Editable files such as MS Word are the way to go

Working with editable files also helps maintain quality and consistency, and reduce overall cost.

Contact your translation vendor

Since you have the editable files, you can simply email them to your translation vendor. In your email, specify what language you want them translated into and your turnaround time requirements. Your vendor will provide you with a cost and time estimate to complete the project.

Email Request for Translation

Once the translation has been completed, the translated documents will be emailed back to you. You can then start using them in your health care organization.

Recommended list of documents for translation

I’ve worked with dozens of health care clients in the past decade and helped them translate hundreds of documents. As a result, I am providing you with a narrowed down list of most popular ones.

Here are the documents all health care providers should have translated.

1. Patient Information Form

This is one of the most essential forms you should use in your practice. It captures all basic health information about the patient that you can then input into the electronic health record (EHR).

Your front desk staff will give this form to the patient to fill out before the appointment is scheduled to start. If the patient speaks Spanish, it will just make it that much easier for him or her to fill out the form.

Patient Information Form

The patient information form may include the following elements: patient’s contact info, medical history and changes since their last visit with a doctor. You can get as detailed as you need, but I’d recommend keeping this form limited to two pages.

2. Patient Rights & Responsibilities

This should also be a fairly short document. It includes the rights your patients have when visiting your practice as well as their responsibilities to you.

Remember that one of those rights is having an interpreter available at no cost to the patient.

Language access in Spanish

I’ve included a sign for your convenience that you can print and place near your reception area that will make it easier for the patient to know that interpreter services are available.

You can download it with the rest of the templates.

3. Consent and Assent Forms

Your patients have the right to consent to treatment. They also have the right to refuse treatment. In many cases, you may be required by law or corporate policy to have such decisions documented.

Signing an informed consent

Some of the common consent and assent forms include:

  1. Release of Information
  2. Consent to Treat
  3. Consent to Procedure
  4. Consent to Immunization

If your patients don’t understand what they are consenting to, it does not do you any good having consent forms to begin with.

Have your consent and assent forms translated to keep your patients informed.

4. Patient Instructions

Your patients will need instructions that they should follow after they visit with you and perhaps even before their next visit.

For some procedures, such as a colonoscopy, one has to prepare. He or she does that by following your instructions.

Patient Instructions

In physical therapy, you may have just treated someone for a sports–related injury. That patient now needs instructions for what to do and what to avoid in order for his or her treatment to be effective.

Translate those patient instructions and give them to your patients.

5. History Questionnaires and Progress Notes

This is something that you may or may not need translated. For history questionnaires, you can write down the answers provided to you by the patient with the help of an interpreter.

As you interview the patient, the interpreter will relay the information between you and the patient in English and your patient’s language. Your task is to write down the information in English.

Things get a bit tricky with progress notes. Let’s say your patient presents you with progress notes from Mexico.

Those progress notes are handwritten in Spanish. There could be critical health information in those notes and you should have them translated from Spanish into English.

Handwritten progress notes are hard to read

Handwritten text is difficult enough to read. Handwriting done by a doctor or nurse in Spanish is even more difficult.

Scan those progress notes into a PDF and send them off to your translation vendor to have them translated (this is the only time it’s appropriate to scan your documents).

Your vendor will provide you with a translation in an easy-to-read, typed-up document.

6. Missed Appointment Policy

Everyone hates untimely cancellations and no-shows. It’s a huge waste of time for everyone, including the staff at your practice. In this case, time also equals money.

If your patient doesn’t show up for an appointment, you lose money. Additionally, the interpreter will expect to be compensated in such occurrences.

Medical appointment schedule

To mitigate patients missing their appointments, many health care providers implement a missed appointment policy. According to the American Medical Association, it is ethical for health care providers to charge patients for missed appointments.

However, your patients must know of this policy in advance.

Have your missed appointment policy translated and provide it to your patients so they understand the consequences of missing appointments without providing you with sufficient notice.

7. Patient Financial Responsibility Waiver

All citizens and legal residents of the United States are now required to have health insurance, or face a penalty. I bet most of your patients are insured, with the exception of those few that prefer to pay cash.

Having the ability to bill your patient’s insurance for your services is great. Of course, until the claim is denied and you’re in an awkward spot having to contact your patient with the bad news.

Medical bills

Clear this up in advance by having your patients sign off on a financial waiver. This will cover you in the event insurance doesn’t cover a certain medical procedure or refuses to pay for your services for one reason or another.

By communicating this information to your patients in advance and having them sign a financial waiver protects you. You now have an ability try and collect from your patients directly.

Free Templates to Get You Started

The American College of Physicians has many great patient care and office forms you can download here. With the permission of the ACP, NWI Global went ahead and translated some of these forms into Spanish.

This is great news for you since you can start utilizing these forms without any additional overhead cost for translation.

Click Here to Download the ACP Patient Care and Office Forms in Spanish

These are just general templates, so if you need to customize them, make sure you work with your translation vendor to do that. You can also reach out to us for assistance.


Providing interpreters for your patients isn’t enough. You should also provide them with written content that’s been translated into their languages. You now have a good starting point and a list of recommended documents to have translated.

By doing this, you are going to improve patient satisfaction. You will also reduce your risk of not being in compliance with Title VI and other regulations.

It’s true that translating documents will cost you, but in the long run the payoff will be immeasurable.

What other documents can you think of that need to be translated for your practice?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

10 Reasons to Translate Your Business Website

You know what many successful companies have in common, regardless whether they have a dozen employees or thousands around the world?

They communicate in more than one language.

There are many examples of this, especially on the internet.

Here is a great example:

Alaska Airlines Spanish Language Website

You are probably wondering how you can make your business more successful, right?

One way to do it is to communicate with your customers through your website and do it in their language.

It seems like a daunting task, and it can be if not carefully planned and executed.

The good news is it’s now easier than ever before to translate business websites.

In this article, I won’t show you how. That will follow later.

What I will do is give you 10 solid reasons, backed by research and real business examples, on why you should translate your business website.

1. Grow revenue and increase profit

Without revenue and profit, a business cannot sustain itself.

If your company hit a revenue plateau, it’s time to think about how to continue growing your revenue.

Netflix did just that. According to a recent article in The New York Times by Emily Steel, Netflix will be enlarging its global footprint in the next two years.

Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, said that expanding the company globally is important since its growth is slowing down in the United States. Hastings believes that delivering its services in more countries will help Netflix reach its target revenue of $10 billion and allow the company to reinvest in its service.

Netflix U.S. Website

Your company may not be the size of Netflix, but it can still replicate its success.

You can start by thinking about translating your company’s website into another language to increase your revenue and profit.

2. Expand into new markets

If you are thinking about expanding your business into a new market, whether within the United States or abroad, consider translating your website as a part of your expansion strategy.

By translating your website into Spanish alone you will be able to cater to the over 37 million Spanish speakers in the United States.

And according to the Pew Research Center, that number is set to rise to as many as 43 million by 2020. Similar data provided by Pew Research indicates that more than three-in-four (78%) Latinos say they use the internet.

Internet Use Trends Among Latinos by Pew Research

If you want to go beyond the United States, consider expanding into Canada.

As part of your expansion plans you will be required to provide content in both English and French. Both are Canada’s official languages. With over 87% of Canadian households connected to the internet, Canada is a very lucrative market to consider expanding into.

3. Provide better customer experience

According to Common Sense Advisory, the first task of any visitor on a global website is to find a language he or she can read.

If they can’t understand the content of your website, they will most likely leave and go to your competitor.

Provide great customer experience by speaking your customer's language

Providing a great customer experience goes beyond translating content into another language. You have to make sure it’s done right.

This means that you should avoid plugins and services that translate your content automatically without human review. I recommend working with a company that specializes in translating content for multilingual websites.

4. Build trust and credibility of your brand

Shawn Hessinger, the editor of Small Business Trends, said that people instantly assess you and your business when they visit your website.

What this means for you is that if your visitors speak a language other than English, they will have a hard time understanding what you are selling.

You can gain their trust and build the credibility of your brand by offering them content in their language.

Build Trust with Your Customers

There are many other ways you can improve your credibility.

To find out what these are, check out the Stanford Guidelines for Web Credibility.

5. Comply with laws and regulations

You may have the best intentions to provide multilingual content on your website.

When you do, make sure you comply with all the local laws and regulations. Anthropologie, an American women’s clothing retailer, learned this when expanding into Quebec.

Anthropologie’s website was taken offline because it didn’t meet the linguistic regulations in Quebec. As a result, Anthropologie had to drive their Quebec-based website visitors to their brick-and-mortar store in Montreal.

Anthropologie Quebec Website

The lesson learned from this case is that you have to provide multilingual content on your website in certain markets and do it in a way that complies with laws and regulations.

6. Increase traffic to your website

Neil Patel increased search traffic to his website by 47% when he translated its content into 82 languages.

Even if you translate your website’s content into one language, such as Spanish, your traffic will increase. This is because people who speak Spanish use search engines such as Google.

Drive more traffic by translating your website

It is tempting to use automated translation tools, like Google Translate, or translation plugins for WordPress.

I would advise against using such tools for your business website. The reason why is because these tools are not perfect and even one small translation mistake can be disastrous for your business.

Always opt for a professional translation for your business content.

7. Not all web content is in English

Did you know that as of March 2015, English made up only 55.5% of global website content?

According to W3Techs, the other languages that round up the top 10 are: Russian, German, Japanese, Spanish, French, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian and Polish.

W3Techs usage of content languages for websites

If you compare these numbers to the most spoken languages in the world, you will find that a very significant population is underserved.

This is especially true for Spanish.

In 2014, there were 392 million Spanish speakers in the world compared with only 4.6% websites in Spanish.

8. Get news coverage

If you build it, it does not necessarily mean they will come.

In other words, launching a website in another language does not automatically guarantee you will get results you want.

One way to get results is to publicize it.

Send out a press release announcing what you are doing and why. You may not get the national coverage that Netflix got from The New York Times, but you are likely to end up in your local business journal.

Translating your website can get you press coverage

Expanding your business into new markets and translating your website into another language can be a news-worthy event.

As a result, you will get more publicity for your business.

9. It’s easier to do it now than ever before

The world is more connected than ever before.

As of 2014, there were 968,882,453 websites on the internet and that number is increasing every second.

This growth can be attributed to many factors, and one such factor is that it’s easy to launch a website.

Total number of websites on the internet

It’s also easy to have your website translated. There are many reputable translation companies that specialize in this area.

The only thing you would need to do is figure out what languages you need your website translated into and why.

Once you do, get in touch with a translation company to start the discussion.

10. Beat your competitors to it

If you made it this far in the article, you are probably intrigued by the idea of translating your company’s website.

So, why not do it?

Do some research and see if your competitors have their websites translated.

If they don’t, beat them to it.

If they do, see how they did it and make yours better.


You’ve learned that there are many things successful companies have in common.

One of those things is having the ability to communicate with their customers in different languages.

You can communicate with your customers in their language through your website.

The best way to do it is to have your website professionally translated. And if you have a boss to convince, you now have 10 solid reasons to support your case.

What other reasons can you think of to translate your business website?

Share in the comments.

Translation Pricing – How does it work?

You shop online and get frustrated when a company’s website just doesn’t give you the answers that you need, right?

One of those answers just happens to be to a very important question.

How much does it cost?

After all, before you decide to work with a particular company and buy products or services from it, you’d like to know how much you will be spending on those products or services.

And you are right.

You should be able to quantify the value you get for the money you pay, and in order to do that you need to know the price.

Professional translation and services related to it happen to fall into this category.

You won’t find many companies listing prices for translation services on their websites. The reason is that each translation project requires a unique approach and there are many variables involved in determining its price.

Sure, there are companies out there that list their prices for translation services, but I would be hesitant to work with them in a professional capacity due to their blind approach to pricing.

So, how does translation pricing work?

Read on to find out.

If you are in a rush, download this article in PDF format to read later.

Measuring the cost of translation

Pricing Models and Structures

Here is how most language services companies charge for translation services.

1. Per word

This is the most common unit you will encounter, since many translators and companies charge for their services per word.

Per-word pricing tends to be the most fair for all parties involved. The reason behind this is that the actual effort involved in translating a document may vary from translator to translator.

For example, a blog article that contains 2,000 words may take one translator 8 hours to translate, while another can do it in 6 hours.

Paying per word helps you keep project costs in control as opposed to paying per hour.

Another thing to look for in per-word pricing is whether you are being charged based on the source or target word count. For example, if the source word count is 2,000 words and you are charged $0.25/word, the total cost will come out to $500.

But let’s say your document is being translated from English into Spanish, and the target word count will increase by roughly 20% in the Spanish version due to expansion.

In other words, 2,000 English words all of the sudden become 2,400 Spanish words after translation is completed and your bill comes out to $600.

The difference between paying per source as opposed to per target word could have a significant impact on your translation budget, so be aware of that.

Finally, sometimes you will see quotes from companies quoting “per thou”, or per thousand words. This is common for projects that are over 1,000 words in volume.

In the example above you would be paying $250 per thou (or $0.25/word).

2. Per page

Some companies will charge to translate your content based on the number of pages your document contains.

Per-page pricing works well for documents where an electronic word count cannot be obtained. A good example of this would be any documents that were scanned to a PDF file, such as medical records, court documents and IEPs.

Per-page price is determined by an estimate number of words on a single page.

Let’s say you have 50 pages of medical records you need translated. We can assume there are roughly 500 words of content on each page.

The content may be typed and include handwriting as well, since many medical records have progress notes on them. Your language services company quotes you $100 per page.

The total project price you will be paying is $5,000.

This sounds expensive and there is a chance that you could probably pay less, since not all pages have 500 words of content. The way to do that is to ask for per-word pricing.

However, in order for per-word pricing to be accurate, you should provide the language services company with editable files whenever possible and avoid scanned PDFs.

3. Per hour

It’s not very often you will find companies charging for translation services by the hour.

As I’ve previously noted in the per-word pricing, it’s hard to estimate the amount of effort each translation project will take.

You will encounter per-hour pricing for editing and updating content that’s already been translated.

For example, that 2,000 page document you had translated into Spanish is now due for an update. You update a few paragraphs in the English version and send it along to your language services company, so they can update the Spanish version accordingly.

Sometimes it doesn’t make economic sense for the language services company to charge for such updates per word.

Instead, they may quote you to complete the updates on an hourly basis. And this usually works in your favor anyway.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you make many revisions, your source content may suddenly yield a whole new document. In such cases it might be more cost effective for you to translate the content from scratch, rather than having it revised.

Just be sure the Translation Memory the company is maintaining for you is updated as well.

4. Flat fee

When per-word, -page or -hour pricing just doesn’t make sense; you may see a flat fee estimate for your translation project.

I can only think of a few examples that I’ve encountered over the years that required flat-fee pricing.

One such example included content in Traditional Chinese that needed to be translated into English. Per-word and per-page pricing didn’t make sense for this project since the contents were actually JPG files with Chinese characters.

Per-hour pricing would’ve worked in this case, but we decided to keep things simple and quote it as a flat fee. Our client was satisfied with this approach and approved the project.

Perhaps the biggest downside to flat-fee pricing is that you don’t get the fine details of what you are actually paying for.

If you are okay with this, flat-fee pricing may work great for you. You just won’t see how your language services company arrived at the price you are paying.

5. Minimum price

Be ready to pay minimum fees to language services companies for small projects.

A small project is considered to be any document that contains up to 250 words of content. Please note that this number is arbitrary. Some companies may have a different threshold for a translation project to fall in the minimum fee category.

In other words, whether you need 25 or 250 words translated, you will still be paying a minimum fee. The minimum fee covers not only the translation part of the project, but other tasks associated with it, such as project management.

Translation ingredients

Factors that Determine the Price

Now that you learned about the most common translation pricing models and structures, you must also understand other factors that determine the price.

These factors include:

1. Number of words to be translated

Do you have a one page document with a few hundred words or a series of manuals with over 50,000 words?

The price you pay will largely be driven by the number of words you need translated.

Generally, the more words you translate, the lower the price per word will be.

2. Complexity of the subject matter

How complex is the subject matter of your content?

If you have highly technical content that requires a scientific level of expertise, be prepared to pay for such expert services.

Be cautious of companies that provide you with the same pricing regardless of the subject matter. If it’s quality that you are after, you need to budget for it accordingly. Here is more on that.

3. Language combination

Some languages are more common than others.

At NWI Global, Spanish is by far our most frequently requested language. This applies for both English into Spanish and Spanish into English translation.

As a result, we’re able to offer competitive pricing for those language combinations. Same can be said for other language services companies as well, since all companies will have a specific language combination that’s more in demand than any other language combination that they service.

When you have a rare language such as Chuukese or Marshallese, a competitive price similar to Spanish is tough to achieve.

This is a simple supply and demand issue. There are very few translators that specialize in rare language combinations and there is simply not enough demand for those language combinations.

So, when you need something translated into a rare language, be prepared to pay a premium.

4. Turnaround time

How quickly are you looking to have your content translated?

A good baseline to use for realistic turnaround times is 2,000 words per day. On average, a translator can translate about 2,000 words per day.

You should note that this is for translation only. It doesn’t include editing and proofreading by additional translators.

Can a project like this be completed in less than 24 hours?


But you’d probably be looking at paying rush fees since you are pressing for a quicker turnaround time.

Ideally, you should expect a 2 to 3 day turnaround for a 2,000 word translation that also includes editing and proofreading.

5. Volume of work

Are you looking to form a solid partnership with a language services company or have only one piece of content you need translated and be done with it?

The company is more likely to give you preferential pricing if you are willing to make a volume commitment.

Customers translating 200-page user manuals every quarter will definitely see more volume discount than those translating a one-time birth certificate.

Be upfront about the volume of work you anticipate and let your language services company know about it.

They should give you a discounted price for your ongoing commitment.

6. Formatting & DTP requirements

All I’ve mentioned so far really focuses on the translation part of the process, with perhaps some editing and proofreading thrown in as well.

In reality, your content may not be a simple MS Word document. You may have charts, graphs, tables, graphics and other visual content.

Your document may even be laid out in Adobe InDesign or one of many other popular content creation tools discussed here.

You’ve now taken a simple translation project and added an extra level of complexity to it. Advanced formatting and DTP (desktop publishing) layout services are usually billed as a separate line item.

Keep that in mind as you create those wonderful brochures in Adobe Illustrator or Microsoft Publisher. You will have to budget to have them typeset.

Formatting & DTP services are generally billed for on a per hour basis.

Translation companies are like apples and oranges

Comparing Apples to Apples

Are you feeling more confident about your ability to understand translation pricing?

You should be now that you’ve learned about how companies charge for translation services and what factors determine the price.

You are now ready to shop for translation services and know what to look for.

Your instincts tell you to make an apples to apples comparison, right?

They absolutely do.

Why pay more for the same service that others are offering for a lower price?

If it’s a true apples to apples comparison, you should go for the most cost effective option, right?

Here is where you should stop.

And consider what it is that you are getting for the price you are paying.

More often than not, it’s not a true apples to apples comparison. You might see some companies charge half the price per word compared to what others are charging.

But they may be charging for translation only, not editing or proofreading. Those could be priced out separately.

Or worse, they may be charging you pennies and then running your content through an automated translation tool and presenting the finished product to you.

You think you are paying for a professional human translation, but really you are getting something else. Find out what makes a good translator here.

How to avoid such experiences?

When a company quotes you a price for translation, whether it’s per word or any other way always clarify with that company what’s included in the price.

Otherwise, you can’t make a fair comparison. You will end up spending less upfront, but it will cost you more in the long run.

Leveraging translation technology leads to quality & consistency

Leveraging Technology

Perhaps the best way you can save money on translations is by utilizing technology.

I don’t mean that you need to do anything technical on your end. Your language services company will do this for you by using a Translation Memory System (TMS).

In a nutshell, a TMS allows the company to maintain all your translated content and leverage when needed. This leverage will yield you cost savings in the long run.

The more similar content you have translated, the more savings you get. This is often done through fuzzy matching. At the same time, you improve quality and consistency of your content as well.

Always make sure the company you work with uses a TMS and that they start a dedicated translation memory for your projects. It’s important that they do this, because should you decide to switch to another company, you will have the translation memory you can take with you.

Professionals are not going to work for peanuts

What’s a Fair Price?

If you see companies charging pennies for professional human translation services, that should be an immediate red flag.

I will show you why.

As I’ve mentioned before, on average a translator can translate up to 2,000 words of content per day.

Let’s take that number and divide it by an 8-hour work day. You get about 250 words per hour.

You then find a company that’s offering you translation services for $0.05/word. Multiply 250 words by $0.05/word. That comes up to $12.50/hour.

That company then needs to keep some of it for a profit, since they’re outsourcing the translation to a contracted translator.

The translator will probably end up getting less than $10.00/hour for his or her work.

I don’t know of any professionals that get paid less than $10.00/hour, do you?

I’d certainly question the abilities of a company that’s charging such a low price and claiming to provide professional translation services.

It simply doesn’t make sense from a mathematical point of view.

According to ProZ, here is how much individual freelance translators charge. TranslatorsCafe.com also has a similar rate table here.

When you work with a language services company as opposed to a freelancer, expect those rates to be marked up.

What about Free Translation?

If you are serious about having your content professionally translated, stay away from free translation tools.

Free translation has its own place in the market, but it just doesn’t work for business content.

Find out if you are truly ready to have your content professional translated here.


You are now an expert on translation pricing and how it works.

You’ve learned about different pricing models and structures, along with the factors that impact translation pricing.

You also have a high level understanding of the translation memory technology and how it can be leveraged to save you costs.

Most importantly, with this information you now know what to look for to make a truly informed decision when buying translation services.

Don’t be fooled by companies offering unbelievably low prices.

If those prices look too good to be true, they probably are.

What other questions do you have about translation pricing?

Ask them in the comments.

Download this Article

Get the PDF version of this article now by downloading it here.

How to Save Costs When Updating Translated Content

You know that professional content translation comes at a price.

The more content you need translated, the higher the price will be.

It’s a direct relationship between the number of words being translated and the cost associated with translating those words.

If you need to translate only a few documents or other content pieces per year, this may not seem like a big deal.

However, if you have content that needs to be translated frequently and then updated on a yearly basis, the costs can add up fairly quick.

Would you like to learn some methods for reducing your overall translation costs?

If you do, read on.

I will show you how to save costs when updating translated content. You can then take the money you save on translation and use it elsewhere in your organization or just have it fall to the bottom line.

Business Case of Saving Translation Costs

Let’s say you have an employee handbook that you need translated into Spanish.

Many organizations do, since they employ Spanish speaking employees who may not have the best command of the English language. Making HR content available to your employees in their language is not only a good practice, but also may be a matter of law.

Employee Handbook

An employee handbook is perhaps one of the most important documents you use with your employees. It’s essentially a contract that your organization and its employees must adhere to.

You probably had several people work on your handbook and most certainly had it reviewed by your attorney, right?

And I bet that you’ve already spent valuable time and money creating the handbook in English and are now ready to have it translated. Not to mention, you have other related documents such as workplace policies, procedures, training materials and employee communications that also need to be translated.

You’re Ready to Translate Your HR Content

You find a language service company to translate the content into Spanish and get a quote for the work. The company comes back with a fair quote and you approve the project.

Let’s assume this company you’re working with has a great reputation, resources, technology (such as translation memory) and works with professional linguists who have subject-matter expertise to work on HR content, so you’re in good hands.

You get the translated content back and it looks great! You’re ready to implement it in your organization and do so immediately.

What happens next?

A year later, your attorney recommends a few changes to the employee handbook, or your training department changes the content of the English materials.

Editing existing content

You now scramble to have your Spanish materials updated, but for some reason can’t remember the language service company that originally did the work. Or you simply decide to try another language service company to see if you can save costs.

You find a new language service company to complete the work, but are shocked when you see the quote. The new company quoted you to translate all of the content from scratch.

That doesn’t seem fair to you. And you’re right. It’s not.

It doesn’t need to be like this. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your budget from over-paying for translation services when updating your content.

1. Avoid “Free” Translation Tools

If my assumption was correct, you’ve already spent a significant amount of time and money in creating the English versions.

Why cut corners on the translated versions?

Trusting a free online translation service with your HR material is like not having your original English employee handbook vetted by human professionals, such as your lawyers.

Are you prepared to invest in quality translations?

By doing this, you’re opening yourself up to potential lawsuits. Or worse, your employees may not understand what you’re trying to communicate to them due to poor quality of the translated content.

This will create a poor user experience and lower employee morale.

There’s a place for free online translation tools. However, that place is not in your business.

Since you’re quality-focused, trust your translations only to humans who know what they’re doing. It will pay off in the long run.

Savings Tip: Content that was created by professionals should be translated by professionals.

2. Save All Editable Files

If there’s only one thing you can do to help you save money on updating your translated content, do this.

Make sure you save and keep track of all native files. This includes your English source files, as well as the files that have been translated into other languages.

A native file is any file that can be edited with a native application it was created in.

Microsoft Office for Multilingual Content Creation

For example, a DOCX file is native to MS Word and can be edited. An INDD file is native to Adobe InDesign and can be edited.

Here is an example of a file that cannot be easily edited. It’s a PDF file that has been distilled from another format such as DOCX.

Or worse, a PDF file that was created using a scanner. Sure, there are ways to edit such files, but they will not save you money. In fact, they will likely add formatting and typesetting costs to your project.

Just remember, if a file can be easily edited in a native application, it will help you save costs.

Make sure to always provide all native files to the translation company you’re working with. If the native files are not available, be prepared to pay for formatting and typesetting costs.

Savings Tip: Always work with native files that can be edited in applications they were originally created in.

3. Remember Your Translations

You probably took a few foreign language classes in high school and all you remember is how to count to ten.

I know I did and that’s the best I could retain from two years of learning Japanese. Luckily, that was years ago and you’re not being tested on it.

The memory I’m referring to is translation memory, also known as a translation memory system (TMS).

Kilgray memoQ Translation Memory

Your language service company should be using one. If they’re not, you should look for one that does.

Here’s why.

Using translation memory in your process will help you save costs.

HR content and other types of business content will generally have a lot of words to be translated.

Once that content is translated by human translators, it is stored in the TMS. A translation memory is essentially an asset that you own and your translation service company manages for you.

Here’s how you save money with a TMS.

Last year you had your employee handbook translated into Spanish.

Roughly 30,000 words of content!

You now have some edits you need to implement, which come out to about 1,000 words. Your translation service company will then make sure that the new content is translated and the existing content is updated respectively.

You need to make sure that the savings are passed on to you.

Why pay for 30,000 words at full rate, when you can pay that for only for 1,000 words and get a substantial discount on the rest?

Savings Tip: Make sure your language service company uses a Translation Memory System (TMS) and creates a dedicated translation memory for your organization.

4. Make Friends with Templates

Chances are good that your content will contain a lot of redundant and repetitive text across many documents.

Instead of creating such content from scratch every time, get in the habit of creating templates.

Editable Templates

For example, in HR settings you may have a disciplinary action form and policy that can apply just to about any employee. Instead of writing a new one up every time, create a fill-in the blank template.

You can then share the templates with your language service company and have them translated. Once the templates are translated, they can be reused by you without incurring additional costs.

Remember, the more words you need translated the more expensive translations will get. Using translated templates will help you reduce costs.

Savings Tip: Use translated templates whenever appropriate to save time and money.

5. More is Better than Less

If you just have 1,000 words of edited text to implement in a 30,000 word document, you’re better off doing it all at once.

If you decide to do 100 words here and 200 words there, by the time you get to 1,000, you’ve already requested at least 4 to 5 revisions – each of them potentially charged at a minimum fee rate.

Volume discount when you buy translation in bulk

Translation service companies treat such revision requests as separate projects and bill you out accordingly.

Whenever possible, combine as much work into a single content update project as you can. Not only will you save money doing it this way by avoiding minimum fees, you will also save yourself time in getting everything done and published.

Savings Tip: Combine all updates and edits into a single project to reduce costs and improve turnaround time.

6. Communicate with Your Partner

The translation service company you’re working with is your partner.

Any successful partnership requires good communication. If you’re not communicating your exact needs to your translation partner, you’re likely to spend more money on translation services and not get your desired results.

Communicate with your partner

The reason behind this is simple – You’re leaving it up to the translation service company to figure the scope of your project out for you.

Conversely, your translation partner should be actively involved in figuring out your project scope and making sure both of you are on the same page. It’s not unheard of for a translation company to decline projects it’s not qualified to work on.

Savings Tip: Communicate your project scope clearly, because the more you leave to interpretation the higher the cost may be.


You’ve now learned 6 methods for how to save costs when updating translated content.

Whether you’re in human resources, or any other business sector that requires translation services, you can learn and apply these tips to save costs.

If you only have one or two documents that you translate here and there, some of these tips may still be useful to you.

If you require translation revisions and updates on a larger scale, you’re looking at saving some serious money. You can then spend this money elsewhere.

What is your experience with updating content and then having the updates translated?

Please share in the comments.

2 Things You Should Know About Certified Translators & Translations

Certified Translators & Translations

This year I had the pleasure of attending the American Translators Association (ATA) conference in Chicago on behalf of NWI Global.

As a first time attendee, I did not know what to expect or where the experience would lead me. I hoped that I would network with fellow project managers and meet some great new freelance translators, but what else was in store was a mystery.

I ended up attending some beneficial sessions that helped broaden my perspective regarding my own work, the work our translators do, and how to better serve our clients.

My passion for the language services industry was nurtured and reinforced, and I hope to use my new skills and inspiration to cultivate the same fire throughout our entire translation department.

Languages spoken at the 2014 ATA Conference

I also came home with a bag full of business cards and resumes from translators to sort through.

As I settled back into my routine here in Vancouver and attempted to pick the “good” translators out of the bunch, I realized how very many ways there are to define what a “good” translator is!

What does “Certified” Mean?

One distinction that we look at closely is whether or not a translator is certified. This is particularly emphasized because our clients often request certified translations.

But there is a difference between a certified translator and a certified translation… so which do you actually need?

I will explain what “certified” means when it comes to translators & translations.

If you are looking for a “certified” service, these are the two things you should know.

1. Certified Translators

Certified translators are linguists who have passed some kind of exam which assesses their ability to accurately translate from one language into another.

The exam is usually given by a professional organization, such as the ATA or by a state or local government. A degree in translation from a university, while impressive, is not the same thing as a translation certification.

It is important to note that translation exams, unlike interpreting exams, are one-directional, meaning that if you are certified in translation from English into Spanish, you are not certified in translation from Spanish into English unless you have taken a separate certification exam for that combination as well.

I ran into quite a few certified translators at the ATA conference!

ATA-certified translators are often regarded as top translation experts, as the ATA examination is viewed as one of the most prestigious certifications with the most rigorous standards in the United States. When our clients ask us for certified translators, we frequently recommend ATA-certified linguists as their best option.

However, there are thousands of languages in the world, and ATA certifications are currently offered in only 27 language combinations. Depending on the language you need, you may not have the option of using a certified translator.

2. Certified Translations

Certified translations are translations that are certified by the language services company or the linguist who provided the service.

They usually will provide a signed and dated certificate saying that the completed translation is true and correct to the best of their knowledge.

This is a great option for translations that are going to be used in legal situations. Especially when the translation is in a language for which there is no translator certification available.

What This Means to You

Certified translators do not automatically produce certified translations, and certified translations are not always done by certified translators.

Another way of looking at it is that a certified translator is an individual who is certified in a specific language combination. A certified translation is a document that has been certified by a translator or a language services company to affirm translation quality.

Now that you’re more knowledgeable about certified translators and translations, you will know which one to request for your next translation project.

What are your experiences with certified translators & translations?

Share your thoughts and questions in the comments.

How To Get the Right Translation

When it comes to language, things are rarely “right” or “wrong”.

There are so many ways to express the same feeling or convey the same point, and everyone seems to have a preference.

In spontaneous conversation, this is rarely a problem. Differences in preference either go unnoticed, or are good for a laugh.

We’ve all poked fun at a friend from a different part of the country for a slightly different word choice or pronunciation, but even if you say “y’all” or “yous” instead of “you guys”, the meaning behind your statement is flawlessly conveyed.

These kinds of variances are fodder for laughter, rather than a real communication problem.

But when it comes to your translated content, deciding whose way of saying something is “right” can become much more serious.

Matching the Language to Your Brand Image

Your brand image is important to your business, and using “y’all” may not be in keeping with that image.

In fact, small linguistic choices like this may be damaging to your brand!

Maybe your clientele is high-end and requires a more formal tone. Or maybe the exact opposite is true, and you want to make your brand seem accessible and need a more relaxed attitude.

The tone you use to communicate with your customers is not the only important linguistic decision you make.

Using the correct vocabulary for your industry and for the context of the text is also important. No matter who your target audience is, the linguistic choices and the way you communicate with them is important – both in English, and in other languages.

You take great care in producing your content in English, and now you need to make sure your linguists pay the same attention when translating your content.

There are different tactics you can employ before, during, and after translation in order to ensure that you end up with the “right” translated content for your target audience.

Before Starting the Translation

Tactic 1 – Choose a professional, qualified linguist or language services company to assist you with your translation.

Tactic 2 – Work with a linguist or company that works with a Translation Memory (TM) program, so consistency can be maintained throughout current and future translation projects. And send any relevant existing TM files to the linguist/company so they can leverage the content you’ve previously created.

Tactic 3 – Inform the linguist/company what level of formality you need.

Tactic 4 – If you have terminology or abbreviations that are specific to your industry or to your current project, put together a glossary and provide it along with the content you’re having translated.

The glossary can either be a monolingual list providing definitions, or it can be a bilingual list indicating how you’d like specific words to be translated.

During the Translation

Tactic 5 – Make sure you are available to answer any questions that come up about your preferences. Professional translators will never guess about anything, and will always check with you if they are unsure of a definition, how to handle an abbreviation, or any other linguistic issue related to the project.

After the Translation

Tactic 6 – If you have the resources available, have a native speaker who works with you internally review the translation and make suggestions.

Tactic 7 – Don’t panic! Professional translators are used to receiving feedback, and they will be open-minded and review your suggestions fairly.

Tactic 8 – Be prepared for the linguist to disagree with some of the suggestions. If you have chosen a good translator/company, they will not be led astray from what they know to be correct.

But if you still prefer a different translation after they have voiced their opposition, continue the dialogue – even professional linguists are capable of misunderstanding the context and may need more clarification.


Translators and language service companies share your same goal – to successfully convey the meaning of the original source content in another language.

If all involved parties are open-minded and remember that there is always more than one way to say the same thing, an agreement on the “right” translation can always be reached.

Please feel free share your experiences with getting your ideal translation in the comments.

Photo Credit: Missy Martinez on Flickr

Navigating the Translation Process Obstacle Course

I’m a big fan of obstacle course challenges and have competed in multiple Spartan races in the past few years.

In a typical obstacle course you have to run, walk, climb, crawl and roll your way through various physical and mental challenges along the way.

While not as physically demanding, a translation process is very much like an obstacle course.

Navigating through it can be mentally draining and costly depending on the size of your project. Each step in the translation process is an obstacle that must be completed.

Whether you are completely new to language translation or have experience in working with language service companies, learning about the translation process obstacles steps is the key to success.

Navigating the Translation Process Obstacle Course

Here is what you can do to successfully navigate the translation process obstacle course.

Which One to Choose

Choosing an obstacle course to run in is no different than choosing a language service company to work with on your translation projects.

They all appear to be selling the same thing. Now you must determine which one is right for you.

If quality is important to you, be cautious of low cost providers.

One thing I like about the Spartan Race is that you never know the about the types of obstacles, until you’re actually racing the course. While this level of unpredictability is exciting for running through rugged terrain, it could be a bit unsettling when you have important documents that need to be translated.

When choosing a language service company, you’d probably want a predictable translation process, where quality can be measured.

Make sure the company you choose can describe its translation process to you, so you can determine how it will fit within your overall communication strategy.

Prepare to Navigate

Unless you’re an exceptional athlete (I’m not), running an obstacle course without any training or preparation is a terrible idea.

In the most recent race I participated in, more than half of all competitors didn’t finish the course. Even though I finished, my overall time wasn’t as good as I’d hoped to achieve.

The good news is that you don’t have to be athletic to prepare your documents for translation. Make sure you gather all native files for the documents you need translated, have an idea of how quickly you want them translated and into what languages.

Your language service company will help you scope out the project.

Execute to Perfection

On a 5K obstacle course you’re looking at conquering 10 to 15 obstacles that will test your physical & mental toughness. This is something you can do alone, or with a team.

Having a solid team to run with makes things a lot easier as you help each other push through the obstacles. Take a look at this awesome team at K International that just completed the Swanbourne Endeavour in the U.K.

Your translation project also needs a great team to make sure it’s executed to your specifications. It all starts out with the project manager (PM).

If your translation company didn’t assign you a dedicated PM, make sure you ask for one as he/she will be the team leader. The PM will work to coordinate translators, editors, proofreaders, terminologists, desktop publishing professionals and other key personnel assigned to your project.

Each step of the translation process is as unique as a race obstacle. It requires a calculated approach to complete by a team member and do so in a timely manner.

You should be able to sit back and have the confidence that your team will deliver the project on time, within budget and according to your specifications.

Get to the Finish

There’s no better feeling on race day than crossing the finish line. Once you finish the obstacle course, no matter how long it takes, you have sense of achievement and relief.

You may also be rewarded with a beer in the end and have something to look forward to in your next race.

Your translation project should also be completed with the same type of dedication, so you can trust your assigned PM and the translation team with more work.

Remember, it’s the people involved that make the translation process go smoothly. You always want the best people on your team.

When Not to Translate Content into Other Languages

Creating excellent marketing content could take months for a solid and intriguing campaign.

It involves your marketing, sales, operations and executive teams.

Now that you have your content ready in English, you are thinking of translating it into other languages.

You then decide to reach out to a language service company to discuss your project and get a quote.

But what if that’s not necessarily the best approach?

Let’s discuss why.

Timing and planning are critical when it comes to content translation, just like with any other component of a well-executed marketing campaign.

If you haven’t planned for your content to be translated and thought of it as a post-marketing campaign activity, you might be in for a surprise.

Since timing is essential in marketing, I am going to focus on the when instead of the why.

Here is when not to translate content into other languages, as it may hurt your overall marketing efforts.

1. When you are not sure about the difference between translation & interpretation.

Yes. There’s a significant difference between the two.

The overall concept is the same, as it involves converting one language to another. However, when we in the industry talk about translation we generally refer to translating the written word.

You wouldn’t have your content interpreted, but rather translated. Now on the other hand if you really need your content “interpreted”, then I recommend having a professional interpreter assist you with the task. Interpretation refers to communicating orally or using sign language.


Now you know the difference between translation & interpretation and can figure out how to integrate either or both into your marketing campaign.

My Recommendation: Study up on the basic language service industry terminology so you know exactly what to ask for when procuring language services.

A good language service company will guide you along. A not so good one may take your request literally and deliver unexpected results.

When to Do: Before you contact a language service company to engage them to work on your project.

2. When you’ve not thought about translating your content at all.

I’ve seen thousands of content translation projects in the past 10 years. More than half of those projects fall into this category.

The content was originally created in English and it was later needed to be translated into other languages.

There are a few issues when approaching a translation project in this matter. Perhaps the biggest one is that the content was written in a way that can only be understood by an American target audience.

The language and concepts used in the English copy did not translate well into other languages. This is because those concepts don’t exist in those cultures.

Another issue is being overly verbose. I’m talking about cramming as many as 1,000 words on a single page without any graphical elements.

While the document looks fine in English, it may not look as good in Spanish. The reason – Spanish expands by 20% to 25% in volume of words compared to the English source.

All of the sudden you have 1,250 words you have to fit nicely on one page. This makes it really difficult to read without a magnifying glass.

Remember: White Space is Your Friend

There are many other issues that are worth mentioning, but they would require their own blog article. So, I will just focus on these two for now.

My Recommendation: If you can do two things when you are creating the English source, do these. First, make sure your text is easily translatable. Use clear and objective writing style without any jargon or slang.

Finally, remember that large fonts and white space are your friends. Stick to 300 to 500 words per page and use plenty of white space. For more information, check out the best practices for easy reading.

When to Do: While creating your source documents.

3. When you don’t know your target audience.

English into Spanish is by far the most common language combination for language service companies in the United States.

With so much supply and demand, it must surely be easy to integrate in your content, right?

This is true as long as you know your target audience. Whether it’s Spanish or any other language, the same concept applies.

For example, your Spanish-speaking target audience could be from Mexico or Puerto Rico. Some live in the Pacific Northwest, others in New England.

Or you might be planning an expansion into Europe and require Castilian Spanish.

7up targetting the wrong audience

The reading level is also good to consider. How literate is your target audience?

It’s important to establish and clarify the reading level while scoping your project out. Are you targeting scientists or high school students with your efforts?

Your English copy may work well for English-speaking audience, but if the translated copy inadvertently changes the reading level, you may not get the results you expected. Or worse, you may completely alienate your target audience.

My Recommendation: Understand who you are targeting and make sure your language service company does to. Consider the variations in languages, including common ones such as Spanish and French. Make sure your intended reading level is conveyed in the translated text.

When to Do: During the project scoping phase.

4. When you’re not prepared for the costs associated with translation.

If you are serious about producing quality content in other languages, you should start thinking about how it will impact your budget. Quality translation and related language services will come at a price.

The question is, are you ready to pay that price?

Are you prepared to invest in quality translations?

Here’s a suggestion to help you prepare for costs associated with language translation services.

The way most language service companies charge for their services is per word. The more words your English copy contains, the higher the translation cost will be.

One way to reduce the costs is to prepare your content in a TM-friendly format.

TM stands for Translation Memory. It’s a tool that human translators use to help improve productivity, consistency and quality, while leveraging the text that’s already been translated.

The more text a translator is able to leverage, the more cost savings you can take advantage of. MemoQ is a great TM tool if you are looking to deploy one in your organization.

My Recommendation: Budget for translation services in advance. Be prepared to describe what you need done, so a language service company can provide you with an appropriate quote.

When shopping for translation services, keep in mind that there will always be a company out there that can do it for less. Going with the cheapest alternative now may cost you more in the long run.

When to Do: At the time you are planning your overall budget.

5. When you don’t have a post-translation strategy.

You had all of your content translated and published.

What’s your plan now?

This is where the post-translation strategy comes in play. You’ve got to be ready for all the incoming business that you’re projected to get from non-English speaking customers.

The problem is that those customers don’t speak English and will be contacting you in their language.

If you had your materials translated into Spanish, make sure you at least have bilingual staff on your team to handle inbound Spanish requests. If you don’t, it will certainly cause a frustrating customer experience.

Same applies to inquiries that come in electronically or in writing. Do you have a plan to have those back-translated into English?

Be ready for inquiries in other languages because they will come.

My Recommendation: Plan on handling inbound business in foreign languages. Include a communication plan in your post-translation strategy.

Think beyond the translation phase and how you will handle all the inbound business. This could be as simple as hiring bilingual employees to interact with your customers.

Alternatively, you can partner with a language service company to assist.

When to Do: Before you publish your translated content to the public.


Whether it’s a marketing campaign or a simple brochure that you need translated, consider these concepts when approaching your next project. They will help you get the results you want.

You now know when not to translate content. Plan things out first and do it the right way!

Share your stories about content translation strategies gone wrong (or right) in the comments.

Why International Translation Day is Important

If you look at a calendar of holidays, you will find at least one to celebrate every day of the week.

There’s practically a day of celebration for just about everything. September 30, is the International Translation Day that also shares the spotlight with the Ask a Stupid Question Day and a few other interesting ones. For the purpose of this article, I’ll focus on the former.

A Brief History

The International Translation Day is celebrated once a year on September 30 on the feast of St. Jerome. St. Jerome translated the bible back in the day and is considered the patron saint of translators.

In 1991, the International Federation of Translators (FIT) proposed an idea to officially recognize the International Translation Day to show solidarity in the language services industry and to promote the translation profession across the globe.

The translation profession is one of the oldest in the world. Ever since human beings started to communicate using language, a need for translators and interpreters came about.

The International Translation Day recognizes the importance of the profession and celebrates it every year.

Why is this Important

Translators and interpreters are professionals and it’s important to recognize this fact.

When you have mission-critical content that you need translated, you wouldn’t trust just anyone to do it, or would you?

Here in the United States we’re used to a fairly stable economic and social life. You may engage a translator to help translate a few documents here and there.

Some may be more complicated than others, such as a one page letter or a patent filing.

You will often find interpreters help patients communicate with doctors, as well as students with instructors.

All of these are complicated language translation & interpreting scenarios that require a professional linguist, but they’re are done in stable and reliable conditions.

Creating Awareness

What we don’t often see is the work that translators and interpreters do in conflict zones around the world.

To recognize their efforts, FIT passed a resolution this year to recognize the dangers professional linguists have to go through to guarantee at least a minimum of communication between otherwise “speechless” parties in the conflict.

Interpreting in a hospital has a different level of risk associated with it than interpreting in a war zone.

With the resolution, the 2014 FIT Statutory Congress calls upon national governments and the international community to:

  • protect the local translators and interpreters in conflict zones
  • ensure a life in security during and after their work in the conflict zone
  • respect the impartiality of the work of translators and interpreters
  • work for a UN Convention and/or an international safety document for the protection of translators and interpreters in conflict zones during and after their service.

How You can Help

There are two great non-profit organizations that focus on improving multicultural communication around the world, while protecting the health and safety of the interpreters & translators.

  • Translators Without Borders – Focuses on increasing access to knowledge through humanitarian translations.
  • Red T – Is dedicated to the protection of translators and interpreters in conflict zones and other adversarial settings.

The International Translation Day is about creating awareness of the language services industry.

I encourage you to learn more about both of these organizations as they play key roles in facilitating global multicultural communication.

17 Attributes that Make a Good Translator

Your company is about to expand its operations into other countries and you have a localization project in the pipeline to go along with the expansion.

You are now ready to build your localization project team. Project managers, translators, proofreaders, editors and desktop publishing specialists are just some of the key people that may be included on the team.

Working with a language service company would ease the burden of putting such a team together, since the company will handle most of the sourcing.

However, there may be a time where you need to work directly with a professional freelance translator.

Finding a good freelance translator can be just as hard as finding a quality employee. Maybe even harder, because the interviewing and vetting portion is modified at best, and eliminated at worst.

Here are the 17 attributes you should look for when recruiting a new freelance translator for your localization project.

1. Native Speaker

This is perhaps the most important thing to look for in a translator. The translator must be a native speaker of the target language. This ensures a thorough knowledge of the language’s culture.

The art of translation is not limited to linguistics. It also requires cultural adaptation that only a native speaker can provide.

A translation should never sound like a translation – it should sound like it was originally written in the language in which the audience is reading it. A fluent, non-native speaker may be able to produce a “good” translation, but a native speaker will be capable of producing a natural translation every time.

2. English Skills

Assuming English is the source language, it is equally important that the translator have a near-native command of the English language.

Without near-flawless English, a translator may miss some of the nuances in the source text, and thus will leave them out of the translation.

3. Pricing & Rates

You must always be mindful of the project budget. A translator should be mindful of the going rate for their language combination and expertise, otherwise they may price themselves out of work that is suited for them.

It is also important for the translator not to under-value themselves, as a too-low price should make you question the quality of work that the translator might deliver.

Learn more about how translation pricing works here.

4. Experience

A translator’s experience is a factor in deciding if the translator is qualified, and determining a reasonable rate for services. Both years of experience and type of experience are important for you to consider.

Education and work experience related to linguistics, language teaching, and translation are all desirable. Years of experience doing translation work are also desirable, but too many years can sometimes be something to take an extra look at.

Here’s why…

If the translator has been living in the United States and working as a translator for 30 years, for example, they clearly have a desirable amount of experience. But it is important to consider whether they have been able to keep up their language skills after being away from their home country for so long.

If a translator has many years of experience, but have lived away from their home country, they may consider adding a section to their resume or profile outlining how they keep current in their native language.

5. Certifications

Your project may require a certified translator. Collecting certifications from organizations with national or state recognition is a good idea in order to expand the number of projects a translator is eligible to work on.

If there are no specific requirements for certifications for a certain project, a translator with good experience can be considered.

Oftentimes, a more qualified translator can be overlooked in favor of a certified translator simply because of the credentials.

You should be careful to balance the weight of a certification against the actual quality the translator can provide.

6. Flexibility

Once the terms are negotiated, it is important for a translator to be open-minded to a flexible pay-scale for special scenarios. Special scenarios can include high-volume projects and other unique situations.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate with the translator since you’re in a contractor relationship.

7. Location

Although a translator’s location is most likely a factor that can’t be changed, it is something that you may consider when looking for a new freelancer. This can be a logistics issue.

For example, you may have specific requirements for where the translator is located, or you prefer a translator in the same time-zone because of tight deadlines and a need for easy communication.

Location can also be important for the quality of the translations – the translator should be a native speaker of the target language and an expert in the target culture, and familiar with colloquialisms and linguistic standards for the target audience.

For this reason, a Spanish speaker who has never lived in the United States may not be a good fit for Spanish translations for a U.S.-based audience.

8. Knowledge of CAT Tools

If you are working with a language service company, that company will almost surely be working with one or more CAT tools on a regular basis, funneling all their projects through them.

Depending on the size of your organization, you may also have in-house CAT tools, such as memoQ Translation Memory, and have translators logging into it for project work.

For this reason, you should consider a translator’s experience using CAT tools when deciding whether they are a good fit.

As a translator, it can be helpful to have experience with all of the major CAT tools so as not to be eliminated from consideration right off the bat.

9. Specialization

It’s important to have a pool of translators for everyday projects. But many projects require specialized knowledge that a general translator cannot provide.

You should focus on recruiting translators that specialize in your particular field. Having qualified translators is the only way to guarantee high-quality translations.

10. Honesty

A translator shows that they are credible and professional when they only accept assignments that they are truly a good fit for. It is always better for a translator to decline a project if they are uncomfortable with it or do not have time for it than to accept when the circumstances aren’t right.

A project that is rushed due to a translator’s overloaded schedule, or a project that is done by a translator who is not familiar with the topic, will inevitably be of low quality.

11. Responsiveness

After reviewing the content to be translated, it is also important for a translator to promptly respond to you. Your job is fast-paced, and translators who can keep up may be favored over those who must be contacted multiple times.

You may have different expectations for a reasonable response time depending on the project – but faster is always better. A translator should check their email several times a day and should respond immediately to decline or accept a project once they have made their decision.

12. Availability

A translator who is always available moves to the top of the list very quickly. Turning down projects due to heavy workload or not being familiar with a topic is a good thing, but rejecting too many projects may lead you to believe that the translator is uninterested in working with you.

If you are always sending projects for topics the translator is uncomfortable with, the translator should remind you of their areas of expertise.

13. Communication

Translators who communicate well are significantly easier to work with. Communication about availability, such as travel plans, is just as important as project-related communication. Project-related communication should be timely and clear.

If a translator has doubts about your expectations, they should never guess, but instead should ask questions about the project. This type of communication will reassure you that the project is going smoothly.

14. Manners

It may sound like common sense, but it is important to have good manners. If a translator is unpleasant to work with, you may stop sending them projects all together, even if they produce very high-quality translations.

It is particularly important to be polite when communicating about contract terms. This topic can be sensitive and uncomfortable for both parties.

It is important for a translator to stand up for themselves and not settle for less than they are worth, but there is a way to do that which will not end a relationship with you.

15. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is one of the main components of a solid quality assurance process. Things like numbers, formatting and punctuation are paid close attention.

Translators who make mistakes in these areas stand out – in a bad way – and may be excluded from future projects if the mistakes are too frequent.

On the other hand, translators who catch inconsistencies in the source files (such as misspellings & mismatched dates) stand out in a very positive way. These types of details should be brought to your attention.

16. Meeting Deadlines

Perhaps the most important thing a translator can do well to stand out is to meet deadlines. You should always provide a deadline when a project is assigned.

If a translator accepts the deadline, they are expected to meet it.

No excuses.

That being said, if a translator needs extra time, it is always better to ask sooner rather than later.

Best case scenario, a deadline can be negotiated before the translator even accepts the project.

17. Response to Feedback

You may have an internal reviewer check through the completed translations and provide feedback. When this happens, a translator is expected to review the feedback and provide their professional recommendations as to how to proceed.

A translator should be professional and open-minded, but also do their best to persuade you to choose the best option by providing a clear explanation for their recommendations so you can make an informed decision about the final version.

To wrap up, you can now feel more confident in recruiting new translators for your project.

You can also download this article in PDF format for future reference.

If you have additional attributes you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.