Ask anyone working within the translation industry what the number one reason is for people not buying a professional translation and you can bet your bottom dollar it’s price. “It’s too expensive”, “We didn’t realise it would be that much”, “We only budgeted $100” are just some of the many responses translators and agencies alike hear on a regular basis.

Whether a translation is expensive or not is totally subjective. Regardless, there are means and ways of saving money on translations. For those working outside of the industry, these might not initially be obvious.

So here’s 5 ways of saving money on your translations next time you think the quote is too expensive.

1. Cut Down Your Word Count

Most translators and agencies charge you on the number of words they have to translate. Rates usually work on a per word basis, for example, English to German translations may be $100 per 1000 words. A quick way to save on costs is to simply reduce the number of words in your document. Before sending a document or text to a translator look at how you can edit it to shorten it and therefore reduce your costs. Condense sentences and paragraphs, remove text that isn’t needed and identify any repetitions or duplications. If some website copy you have says, “We provide legal template contracts so that businesses can reduce their legal costs. The contracts are written by expert lawyers in accessible language and you can fill them in yourself, or ask a lawyer to check it over for you,” you could instantly save 30% by editing it to become,  “We provide legal template contracts to help reduce  costs. Written by lawyers, you can fill them in or ask a lawyer to check them over for you.”

2. Use Plain English

Although translators are talented people, they won’t know every single word in the language they are translating into; especially specialist terms, jargon and technical vocabulary. Texts of a technical nature are much of the time charged at higher rates due to the research time involved.  Review your documents and try to simplify them. Carry out a process of “jargon busting” by simplifying vocabulary. The less technical the better, although in some industries this may not always be possible. Culture specific idioms, phrases and sayings should also be scrapped; how does a translator deal with “a sledgehammer to crack a nut” or “hold your horses”? Sporting phrases like “no holds barred” and “par for the course” are unnecessary; remove them.

3. Create a Glossary

As mentioned above, some industries will have a certain amount of technical terminology due to their specialist nature. Where these sorts of terms can’t be edited from a text, help the translator by providing them with a glossary. This is a document which contains all your technical jargon, explaining what the words mean and if possible capturing any translations that already exist which the translator can use. This helps standardise your translations, creating a more robust final product as well as saving the translator time and yourself money. Where glossaries don’t exist, use people in-house with this knowledge to create one or work with your translator/agency to create one.

4. Ask for CAT Tools

Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools help translators and agencies by memorising translations. Once a document is translated through a CAT tool, it keeps a record of the translation which can then be used in the future. The next time it sees the same word, sentence or paragraph in another document it carries out the translation based on this memory. As a result, most translation professionals pass on a discount of anywhere from 50-90% on these repeated translations.  If you carry out a lot of translations, or do so regularly, always ask the translator if they can use a CAT tool. If they can’t, look for someone who does as in the long run this will offer huge cost benefits.

4. Context is Crucial

One of the biggest headaches for translators is a lack of context. How would you translate “green light” if there was no context to guide you? Is it a light that is the colour green? If so, is it a traffic light or a bulb? Could it mean “go” or “start”? How about the word “press”? Press a button? Press a shirt? Or the written press, i.e. newspapers? Without context a translation can take twice as long and if the wrong option is chosen by the translator, could result in an incorrect translation and even financial loss. Give translators context in the form of explanations, screen shots, interface access and examples. The less taxing and complicated you make your translation, the quicker and cheaper it will be.

5. Accessible Formats

Sending documents for translation that are images (such as scanned documents), handwritten, or in “read-only” formats should be avoided as much as possible. Firstly, translators strive to return documents in a mirrored format, meaning the translated document perfectly matches the original. However, where the documents or text can’t be accessed, this makes it very difficult. Secondly, the word count is difficult to assess if the text is inacessible. As a result, to err of the side of caution, word counts are often inflated by translators to cover any nasty surprises.  To keep your costs to a minimum, ensure the text in your files is accessible.

These tips are 5 of many ways of reducing costs within translation. A little collaboration with your translator or agency can really help bring those costs down as there are always means and ways of identifying areas for streamlining pricing.