5 Tips for Minimizing Translation Costs

Tips for minimizing translation costs

5 Tips for Minimizing Translation Costs

Posted by Anne Quach on May 2020.

Translation and Localization might not be included or accounted for a large proportion in the budget of many companies. However, at some point of your businesses, you will need to translate and localize your business documents, website, or app to reach a new potential foreign market. With such sudden need arises, the question is how to balance between a high-quality translation and a limited budget? Or in other words, how to achieve a cost-effective translation project.

Here are 5 tips to minimize translation costs without sacrificing quality.

1. Plan ahead

Plan ahead

Does this tip seem too obvious to you? Well, although it’s the first and most essential step of every project that you can not miss out, mistakes can still be made. To minimize translation costs, you need to define the scope of your translation project. Which market(s) you are planning on entering? Will you sell all your products or services in this market or just some product lines? From which, you will have a scope of what to translate and what to not and save a great deal of money from translating unused content.

What’s more, you also need to decide which language(s) your content will be translated into? If you are testing the waters, choose 1 or 2 potential languages to start with, then depending on the results, you will plan your next moves. A good plan gives you time to prepare and find the most suitable resource to implement your translation project. Plus, a rush translation might cost you 1.5 or even 2 times than a normal translation. So planning gives you time to heads-up the translators and of course, reduce the costs.


2. Optimized source content

Most translators charge money based on the number of words they translate. That means if you can cut down on the number of words, you reduce the translation costs. So you should start by optimizing your source content before sending it to translators. This might take you hours to complete but it will be worthy. Below are some tips to have an economical translation-friendly content:

      • Reduce wordy sentences and lengthy words. You should paraphrase the original long sentences with shorter and simpler words.
      • Remove unnecessary part of your content such as idioms, jargon, metaphors, or expressions that are only familiar with your local culture.
      • Avoid text in graphics. To translate the text in a picture or chart, the translators extract the text out of the graphic, translate them into the target languages, then insert them into the graphic again. The process takes too much time, and time is money. So instead of embedding text into graphics, try using the captions.
      • Blank space is important too. The length of your content tends to expand as you translate it from English to other languages. Thus, to keep the eye-catching original format, you should adjust your content and leave enough white space for the additional length.


3. Make the most of technology

Make the most of translation technology

The translation industry has long been mystified as a “human-only” industry while in reality, it is assisted by many software and apps, especially the CAT Tools. Thanks to the Translation Memory (TM) in CAT Tools, you can reduce the translation cost significantly as you only pay for new words that translators actually translate. Also, less time is needed for your translation while the consistency of the translation increases. By making the most of this technology, you can easily achieve both targets: best quality and low costs. CAT Tools are even more effective for long-term translation projects. As the TM is getting bigger and bigger after each project, the money you pay is lessened.


4. Decide to work with freelancers or translation agencies

To minimize translation costs, make sure that you choose the right translation provider for your projects. In general, freelancers offer a lower rate. However, you have to find the translators, test them and coordinate the project yourself. It can be a time-consuming task. In contrast, working with translation agencies, you can rely on their PM team to do all the coordination tasks. All you need to do is send them the files and they will give you the translated versions. A problem is, their rates are much higher than those of freelancers. So who should you work with? Unfortunately, there is no right answer. Below are some factors you should consider before making your decision.

BudgetNo strict budgetLimited/Tight budget
Number of languagesMany pairsOne pair
Number of servicesOne step to the whole processOne to two steps
Amount of volumeHigh – ModerateSmall – Moderate
(for high-volume projects)


You can read more about the advantages and disadvantages of working with freelancers and translation agencies here.


5. Prepare guidelines for translators

A detailed guideline with clear instructions and examples will help translators understand exactly what result you expect and how you want your documents translated. Instead of sending the file back and forth to fix errors, translators will follow strictly follow your instructions and save time as well as translation cost for both sides. Additionally, a glossary of terms is also needed. A glossary and context provide translators with all related information and the concept of a term. They don’t need to look up the dictionary or spend too much time searching for the terms online. In a nutshell, the glossary helps you cut down on costs while increasing the consistency and accuracy of the translation.


Here’s an infographic to summarize 5 tips for minimizing translation costs:

Infographic - Tips for minimizing translation costs


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