• There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.



When you are looking to translate materials, whether it’s your website, patient handouts, or other documents, you may decide to look for quotes from a few different agencies to ensure you are getting the best price and services for your needs. The quotes you receive might look very different and have a huge discrepancy in the pricing and breakdown of services. We’re hearing from customers who are frustrated that the quotes they get don’t seem to have much in common and are therefore hard to evaluate and compare. They ask, “How do I compare these translation quotes?”

Translation quotes can be very perplexing these days, and we’d like to share some information on what you should look for and consider when evaluating the quotes.

Per-Word Pricing

The translation services industry has historically provided quotes based on a per-word price. With this pricing method, it should be easy to see which providers cost more, and which are the least expensive. Agencies that provide quality translation services are still using similar per-word prices – those will be easy to compare. Some agencies have figured out that they can offer a lower per-word price by breaking out individual line items to work in additional fees which drive the cost back up. Be aware of this practice and examine the quote to find these extra line items so you can compare the value of what is included in each quote.

Additional Fees

Often additional fees for services typically included as part of an all-inclusive per-word rate, like quality control, project management, service delivery, and file preparation are added in separately. By charging separately for routine elements of the translation service, they can reduce the per-word rate, making the quote seem less expensive (and therefore more attractive) than others who fully load their per-word cost. Yet once you add up all the services, the cost savings is questionable.

When evaluating translation service quotes, determine if the quote uses comprehensive per-word pricing or offers a low rate with several add-on fees. Don’t be fooled by the lure of an outrageously low per-word price; look a little closer for the hidden fees and do the math before making your decision.

evaluate translation costsModels of Translation Services

Translation companies today employ several different methods of delivering their services. Not only do these methods differ in the way the services are performed, but they also impact the quality, confidentiality, and cost.

With different models of translation services available, it is even more challenging to evaluate dissimilar quotes. The first step is to identify what model of translation service is indicated in the quote and decide which mode is appropriate for your project.

Human Translation

This service model uses professional translators who are native speakers to translate the text from the source language to the target language. These translators are highly qualified, skilled writers, and fully bilingual, often native speakers. When converting your content from the source language to the target language, they will ensure that your message is conveyed correctly and is culturally appropriate for the target community. You can expect the greatest accuracy from a human translator. Look for agencies that use trained, skilled, and experienced linguists, and ask about their qualifications. Learn more about the Benefits of Using a Professional Translator.

human translation professionalHybrid Translation

Combining machine translation with human post-editing sounds like a great way to leverage technology and reduce costs while keeping that human touch. If using this method, remember that despite advances, machine translation still can’t pick up on the nuances of your content. Those nuances could be lost in translation well before a human looks at it for postediting. Documents and projects that are straightforward, such as forms or simple instructions, may be appropriate for the hybrid model. Identifying the purpose of a translation helps determine if a hybrid translation model is sufficient and could result in cost savings.

Crowdsourced Translation

This new practice takes advantage of the internet by publishing your content online and asking for translations from readers around the world. The benefit of this method is low pricing. This sounds like a great way to save money – what could go wrong? The disadvantages are that you cannot control who does the translation, you have no guarantee of translator qualifications or skills, and your content has been posted online with no confidentiality guarantee. Learn more about the potential issues with crowdsourced translations.

Identifying what type of translation model the agency is quoting can help you evaluate costs, suitability, and value. Compare like services to evaluate cost – don’t compare apples and oranges.

Other Elements to Consider

  • Confidentiality. If the nature of the materials you need translated is proprietary or falls under regulatory rules, such as HIPAA requirements, you need to make sure your translator or agency guarantees confidentiality. Don’t see it specified in the quote? Ask what measures they take to ensure confidentiality before deciding.
  • Delivery. Does the quote include a specified turnaround time, and does that time frame meet your needs? You may get a quote with an inexpensive price, but if they can’t complete the project when you need it, it will end up costing you more in the long run, in delays or rush fees. Be sure to evaluate quotes with your required timeframe – and an understanding of its flexibility - in mind.
  • Satisfaction. Look for a guarantee on the translation. The agency or translator should stand behind their work; if you don’t see a 100% satisfaction guarantee, ask about it. What happens if you are not satisfied with the results or find errors in the translation after delivery? What quality control measures are in place? A professional translator should be confident enough to offer a guarantee.
  • Matchmaking. Linguistic matchmaking is when the agency finds the right linguist for your job and assigns that same linguist to your future projects. This ensures a higher quality translation and consistency of voice for all your projects. It’s possible you only need one document translated and don’t foresee future needs, yet if you have several documents in mind or are looking to establish a long-term relationship for translating, linguistic matchmaking should be a factor in your decision. Learn more about the benefits of linguistic matchmaking.
  • Relationships. Your relationship with the agency is going to be with the project managers. To get an idea of what it will be like to work with them, look at your relationship during the quote process. Take note if they are responsive, answer your questions promptly, take the time to understand your goals and the project needs, have good relationships with the translators, etc. Communication between you and the project manager, and between the project manager and translator will be an important part of the translation process.

Breaking Down the Translation Quote

When trying to evaluate translation costs, look at what’s behind the numbers to make sure you’re getting what you need. Look at the pricing structure for per-word pricing and/or additional fees. A comprehensive, fully loaded per-word price is the most straightforward and helps avoid unpleasant surprises when it’s time to pay the bill. Identifying the model of translation services offered can help explain cost discrepancies between quotes and is important when considering confidentiality and quality. Finally, consider the value of building a relationship, consistency of voice, confidentiality, on-time delivery, satisfaction, and other variables.


Rapport International specializes in multilingual communications, providing language translation and interpretation services that are accurate and culturally appropriate. We use the right voice and the correct terminology to avoid liability, customize services to your needs, and deliver on time and within your budget. With our 100% satisfaction guarantee, you can trust that it’s done right. Contact us today if you would like more information or to get a free quote.


Have questions? Contact Us 

Categories: Project Planning & Management, Cost & Turnaround, Problems & Solutions

Recent Posts


Ready for your free quote?

Considering translation or interpretation services from Rapport International? Get started today!