How do I save money on translation?

How can I save money on translation?

That’s a good question! Tembua always wants our clients to receive good value for their money.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Delard your text before you send it to us. Translation is charged by the word, so this single step can save you some green.I picked up the term delard—cut the fat—from my Business English professor in grad school. She said, “Every word should have a reason to be there.” After my first assignments came back bleeding to death in red pen, I learned what she meant. Take the first sentence in this paragraph. Instead of picked up the term, I could revise to say Instead of my Business English professor, I could write a professor.
    Obviously, you don’t want to destroy the style of your document, but many business documents, particularly legal documents, have a great deal of lard. Look for introductory phrases like in other words, however, in short, in summary. Some of them can be simply deleted without affecting the meaning.
  2. Review the text for information that only applies locally. For example, you may have directions to your office or phone numbers that won’t work overseas. Tembua always notes these areas for our clients, but some translators simply translate everything you send.
  3. Review the text for information that is out of date. Perhaps a coupon has expired or the logo has changed or a service mark has become a trademark. To save money on revisions, remove old information before translation.
  4. If you are sending a desktop publishing file, clean off the Clipboard. DTP files often have old text strings sitting out there. They will be translated as part of the document text, or the translator may charge to clean up the file if they’re not discovered in time.
  5. Know the usage location of your translated files. Will your Portuguese documents be used in Portugal or Brazil? Your French ones in Canada, France, Senegal? Tembua always asks, but it sometimes amazes me that the contact we’re dealing with may not know where they are shipping their product.
  6. Think ahead and allow enough time. Ask your translator in advance how many days are needed. And don’t forget to add time for revision, proofreading, subject matter expert editing (if appropriate), and final formatting and QA. Tembua works miracles for clients who need them, but we apply rush rates, particularly if the teams have to work overnight or through the weekend or over a holiday.
  7. Please send final files. I know that sounds obvious, but we have experienced clients who expect us to start on a translation, only to send a revised file, sometimes more than once. The project manager then has to identify the changes in the file and communicate them to the translator, some of whose work may now be irrelevant. We understand that sometimes there’s no way around revisions, but please let us know if a file isn’t final.
  8. If you have native speakers in your office who are trained on DTP software, they can handle the final adjustments needed to make the translated text look like it was created in that language. That saves you the DTP costs.
  9. If you possibly can, lay out the file in an Office program like Word or PowerPoint. Because the linguist teams can work directly into those programs, not only does the work go much more quickly, but you aren’t charged for DTP costs. Publisher is an exception. Those files have to undergo full DTP.
  10. One more hint: proofread the file before you send it for translation. Our linguist teams are professionally trained in their languages, but ambiguities and grammar errors can create problems.Not every language has the flexibility that English offers. Take this sentence:
    Joe and his friend went to the movies but he got sick. Who got sick? Joe or his friend?


If the translator guesses wrong, the entire meaning of your paragraph suffers. It’s a good idea to have someone not familiar with the text do the final proofread and ask questions of the writer. If the linguist team or project manager has questions, please don’t be insulted (or doubt their intelligence). Our goal is a perfect text.

Do you have something to add to this list? Let me know!

Patricia May