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Using a Translation Agency

Monday, 27 July 2009 10:11

If you are comfortable with the internet then using one of the main search engines such as Google or Yahoo! will always bring up lots of options. For those using search engines try and be a bit more specific with you search term. For example, don't just type in "translation agency". If you are looking for a local translation agency type, for example, "translation agency London" or "translation agency Bristol". If you need a translation agency with specialist knowledge of a language then type something like "Italian translation agency".

Take note of the search results. On search engines you often get advertisements as well as natural search results. It is important to consider that those paying for the advertising may need the business, whereas those that come up naturally in the search results have been established a long time and therefore don't need to invest in advertising.

The other means of finding a translation agency is to ask colleagues, friends or family. A personal recommendation is always best.

Contacting the translation agency

Once you have a list of translation agencies you want to contact you need to make sure you have the information necessary to get a quote.

A translation agency will want to know the language combination, the length of the document (number of source words), the source format, when you need the translation by and if necessary what format it should be delivered in. These details will help the translation agency price the piece of work. However, many translation agencies may not give a concrete quote until they see the document. It may be a good idea to have your translation in a format that can be emailed, such as a Word, PDF or scanned copy.

Thoroughly explain your needs. A good translation agency will always ask the right questions so they get a decent grasp of what you will need.

Questions to ask the translation agency

Once you have established the cost of your translation it is always a good idea to ask the translation agency the following questions:

1. What is their charge per 1000 words?
2. Do they charge per source or target word? (i.e. if your translation is English > Italian, English would be the source language)
3. Is their quote concrete? (i.e. they can't change it once the job has started)
4. Are all their translators qualified? What qualifications do they have?
5. Do they only allow translators to work into their native languages?
6. If they miss your deadline how will they compensate you?
7. Does your translation include proof-reading or only the translation?
8. If your translation is specific or technical, do the translators have experience in the subject matter?
9. Is payment for the translation required beforehand or afterwards?
10. What format do they propose to return your translation in?
11. If it is a large or important job it is possible to ask for a trial translation - however, this may not always be free.

These questions for your translation agency should give you some insight into their understanding of the industry and their capabilities.

Which translation agency?

Ultimately for many people, a translation agency is chosen based on cost, location and speed of service. There are no hard and fast rules as to how to choose a translation agency and it is really up to the individual to go with what they feel it best for them.

In the general scheme of things most translation agencies are bona fide and professional outfits. If when asking the questions above to a translation agency you sense a level of uncertainty then it may be best to go with the agency that seems to know what you want and how to give it to you.


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