Localization & Translation Costs – Breakdown Of Factors Involved

Kristina Temelkova

I am born and raised in Bulgaria, but I'm currently living in Vienna, Austria. Besides content writing, I work as a translator, video editor, and caption writer. At present, I’m also finishing my master’s degree in applied linguistics at the University of Vienna. I speak four languages: Bulgarian, English, German, and Russian.

Jun 15, 2022 | Business, Localization, Translation

Are you looking to grow your business globally? Congratulations on taking this big step. Translation and localization are essential to succeed in competitive international markets. If you’re wondering how much localization and translation cost, you’ve come to the right place!

Unfortunately, there is no short or simple answer.

Many factors might influence the cost of a translation project. While many people think translation is simply transferring a text from one language to another, they ignore the fact that every language is different and has its own complexities. Another factor is the type of text and its subject – translators usually have expertise in a particular subject(s) to provide a quality end product. Other aspects of translation and localization include the length and complexity of the project, types of materials that need to be translated, the accuracy and changes that need to be made, etc. 

The list goes on and on… Translation pricing is a complex matter, so we have decided to devote this blog to explain all the details you might need to know to make the best decision for your translation project.

Why do translation costs vary so much?

To put it simply, several aspects determine the price of a translation project:

Language pair

It is generally hard to find professional translators if a language is rarely spoken. Thus, the price goes up. In other cases, the demand for some languages is very high, but there aren’t many translators available. For instance, there aren’t many translators for languages such as Estonian, Basques, and Icelandic and thus they cost more. 

The region’s economy and the cost of living where a language is spoken also play a role in determining the price of a translation project. Because of this, Japanese, Dutch, and Scandinavian languages are among the most expensive languages and Indian languages are amongst the cheapest.

Localization & Translation Costs - Breakdown Of Factors Involved

Accuracy

Depending on the purpose of your translation project, the accuracy can vary, and hence, the price can fluctuate. For instance, if you want the translated content to be published, you should opt for translation, editing, and proofreading (TEP) to ensure high quality. If your translation project is only for internal use and thus, accuracy is not so important, then machine translation post-editing (MTPE) might be enough. 

Localization & Translation Costs - Breakdown Of Factors Involved

Source:

Deadline

It’s simple – the shorter the deadline, the higher the price. So, if you want to save some money, you might want to submit your project for translation earlier.

Complexity

More complex texts such as technical documents, medical software and legal documents, banking reports, and marketing materials require in-country specialists, which, in turn, makes their translation more expensive. Professional translators are required to have expertise in a specific field (e.g. legal translation) to produce high-quality translations.

Type of material

If you think that only text documents can be translated, you are mistaken. You can get all kinds of materials translated, such as videos, etc. Of course, videos require more work and thus, the service would be more expensive.

File type

If the content you want to be translated is editable,  you don’t have to worry. However, if you want a scanned document (which cannot be edited), for instance, to be translated, then the translation will cost more and take longer.

Length

The most common way to calculate the price of a translation project is with its word count. Each translation agency has its rates per word for each language, so you simply have to multiply the words of your document by the given rate.

Localization & Translation Costs - Breakdown Of Factors Involved

One-time or ongoing project

Sometimes you can get a discount if you are a regular customer. What’s more, most companies work with translation memories, which means you won’t have to pay for translating the same sentence twice.

Also read: Top Qualities of a Good Translation

Get in touch for a free consultation and quote

Milestone helps you seamlessly translate content & localize your website, products, and services for more reach, better conversions, and greater sales. 

Translation costs vs Localization costs

Okay, let’s start with understanding the difference between these two services.

Translation is the transformation of a text from one language to another. Here, the meaning is essential and thus, one should pay particular attention to the right terms and phrases.

Localization is the adaptation of content to a different culture. And while translation is part of the localization process, it is one of the many steps. Localization covers all aspects such as images, colors, currencies, measurements, etc. All these elements should be adapted to the culture and norms of the target audience.

Localization & Translation Costs - Breakdown Of Factors Involved

The cost of localization is computed by calculating the total number of words of your project (this means all files that are included in the project) and multiplying it by the rate per word of the given language pair.

While it sounds fairly simple, it is not. The price of localization includes services such as:

  • translation
  • transcreation (recreating content to adapt it to the local cultural system)
  • transliteration (transforming words from one script to another; it is usually done with brand or products names, e.g., ”Coca Cola” in the Cyrillic script would be ”кока кола.”)

Depending on the complexity of your localization project and the services it requires, the price goes up. With localization you have to consider that it is an investment in your business. Getting your content localized would attract new customers, which will eventually increase your sales and overall revenue.

Also read: Top 10 Subtitling Companies : How To Choose The Right One

Connect With Us to get a quote for your translation project

Milestone helps you seamlessly translate content & localize your website, products, and services for more reach, better conversions, and greater sales.

What services are a part of localization?

As we have already discussed, localization is a complex process that includes many services. Here is a breakdown of all of them:

Translation

The translation is a part of localization. And while translation strictly refers to the process of converting written text from one language to another, translation can be done by humans, machines, or both.

When it comes to localization, automatic translation tools are not the best choice. Professional translators, on the other hand, have the expertise in both the working languages and the working field to provide high-quality translations.

What’s more, translation is a process performed by at least two linguists. One person is doing the translation while the second one reviews and proofreads it. 

Localization & Translation Costs - Breakdown Of Factors Involved

Also read: Subtitles vs Closed Captions: Everything You Need To Know

Proofreading, editing, and reviewing

All these three services intend to improve a text.

A proofreader would edit the grammar and style of a piece. Proofreaders usually do the final check on a piece of text that you are pretty confident about or content that is only for internal use.

An editor will check the terminology and vocabulary and make changes if necessary. Editors are usually needed for highly visible content. So, editors ensure that the text is of perfect quality and ready to be published.

A reviewer might check spellings and correct readability issues while also comparing the translation to the original text. Sometimes, a reviewer might convert a text to a different variety, e.g., UK English to US English.

Copywriting

Copywriting refers to the service of creating content from scratch. You can contact a copywriter if you want original (as opposed to translated) content for your website.

If you want to launch a new product in a new market, it might be beneficial to work with a copywriter who can create authentic content in the local language of your target audience. A good copywriter knows how to create content that will resonate with the voice and style of your brand.

Transcription, Subtitling & Voice-overs

Video localization is tough work! The process consists of several steps:

  • Transcription: This process refers to the process whereby the spoken text of a video is transcribed, or put into written form.
  • Translation: The transcript is then translated into the target language.
  • Creating subtitles (optional): The translated transcript is used to create text captions in the target language.
  • Creating voice-over (optional): The translated script is read aloud by voice-over actors and recorded. Then the recording is integrated into the video.

Transcreation

Transcreation is essential if you want top-quality marketing materials that sound authentic and original in the local language of your target audience.

Transcreation is different from copywriting since transcreation requires working with pre-existing content that needs to be recreated, as opposed to creating from scratch. A transcreator needs to preserve the style and meaning of the source material while adapting it to the local market.

Transcreation is a very creative and demanding job since it requires the expertise of a translator and the originality of a copywriter. 

Transcreation is usually used for advertisement campaigns, marketing materials, and website content.

Also read: Translation, Transcreation, and Transliteration: What’s the Difference?

Website & Software Localization

Localization of websites and software is a service on its own since it requires different kinds of specialists. For instance, this type of localization includes tasks such as web development or software engineering, transcreation, testing, search engine optimization(SEO), and desktop publishing.

All these tasks require different kinds of specialists and the end goal is to provide a website or software that can satisfy every need of the end-user, regardless of their location.

Website and software localization projects involve several specialists and thus, good organization is crucial. Otherwise, such projects might take much longer until they are finished.

Multilingual SEO

Search engine optimization or SEO is the process of acquiring traffic from free, organic, or natural search results in the search engines. The end goal is to increase your website’s visibility and increase its ranking in the search results.

Through multilingual SEO, you can make your website visible in searches in different languages. In fact, SEO is a necessary part of the localization process and can help you make your localized content more visible to the local users of your target market.

Localization & Translation Costs - Breakdown Of Factors Involved

Multilingual SEO is performed by translators and web developers. The translators transcribe keywords and metadata into the target language, while web developers’ job is to integrate the translated data into the code of a website.

Also read: Multilingual SEO – Importance, Benefits & The Process

Desktop publishing

Desktop publishing is not necessarily a localization service, but it comes in handy for most localization projects as well.

Desktop publishing refers to the service whereby a translated document is made more aesthetically pleasing so that it can be published.

Sometimes a translation might look completely different from the original text. It can be due to text expansion, different character sets, or reading direction. Desktop publishing re-works the end translation to resemble the design of the original text.

As you can see, localization is a very complex process that is performed by several specialists. Professional translation agencies have localization teams with all kinds of specialists, which in turn can ensure fast delivery and high quality.

Reduce Localization Costs Upto 30%

6 ridiculously simple tried and tested ways to reduce localization Costs on your next localization project. Save time, and money and improve translation quality with these dead simple but effective strategies.

How to get the best value for money?

You might be asking yourself if there is a way to reduce the translation costs without having to compromise length, language pairs, or quality. 

Well, we have news for you! There are, indeed, some ways you can save a buck or two:

Translation Memories

Translation Memories(TM) are probably the best way to reduce translation costs long-term. Translation Memories can make the translation process not only cheaper, but also more efficient, while increasing the quality and the consistency of the end product.

But how can you save money?

Translation Memory is a database in which previous translations are stored. If a previously translated phrase or sentence appears in a new translation project, it can be directly used from the database. Hence, you don’t have to pay for its translation. As a result, the total number of words that need to be translated is reduced, which, in turn, reduces the overall cost of the project.

Localization & Translation Costs - Breakdown Of Factors Involved

Also read: Translation Memory: A Powerful Tool for Localization

CAT  tools and TMS

CAT (computer-assisted translation) tools and TMS (translation management system) are greatly beneficial to any translation or localization project. Hence, you have to make sure that you work with a translation agency that utilizes these tools.

Localization & Translation Costs - Breakdown Of Factors Involved

Both CAT tools and TMS help automate the process of translation. All mundane, repetitive tasks are performed by a computer, while the most important part – the translation itself – is left to professional linguists.

These tools can not only improve the overall productivity but also improve the workflow. Through TMS, everyone who is working on a project, regardless of their location, time zone, etc., has access to all files around the clock and can easily communicate with the other team members. The project managers themselves can control the whole project through this software so that the translation project is finished on time.

Reliable partner

Finding a reliable partner for your translation and localization project is crucial. Indeed, working with a language service provider (LSP) that can guarantee high quality can save you a lot of money.

If your partner provides you with a faulty translation, you have to pay another LSP to correct the mistakes or translate your content from scratch. This will cost you money and valuable time. 

Thus, it is crucial to find a reliable LSP who can not only guide you along your translation and localization process but also provide you with an accurate end product.

Concentration

If you “concentrate” your translation projects with one language service provider, it may lead to lower per-word rates for a particular language pair. You might be able to even discuss the application of minimum charges (the rates for translations that are shorter than 250 words).

Indeed, concentration or working with the same provider is also the best way to gain the most leverage from Translation Memories.

Machine Translation and Machine Translation Post Editing

Machine Translation (MT) is not the best solution for most translation projects since it cannot ensure high-quality output. It is suitable for translations for internal use or lengthy materials that don’t need to be stylistically perfect (e.g., annual reports).

In some cases, Machine Translation can be used in combination with human translators. This service is called Machine Translation Post Editing (MTPE).

Localization & Translation Costs - Breakdown Of Factors Involved

Initially, the content is translated via a Machine Translation engine. Then a professional translator reads through and edits the piece to provide a high-quality end translation.

However, know that not all content is suitable for this service. MTPE works best with straightforward content with short, simple sentences, such as manuals or product reviews.

The pricing is calculated depending on the changes a translator is required to make while reviewing the Machine Translation output.

Also read: Machine Translation and Post Editing : Everything You Need to Know

Plan ahead

Having a clear plan from the beginning is the best way to ensure that your project is finished on time. Start planning early on, even before launching, so that you have a clear idea of how much time you will need for each step of the translation and localization process. 

Contact a Language Service Provider to discuss your project in more detail and any possible implications. Don’t forget to set aside some buffer time in case something doesn’t go according to plan. Localization can be a bumpy road, especially with longer projects, so be prepared! You won’t regret it!

In conclusion

Translation and Localization are complex services that require various specialists. This, among other factors, such as language pairs, project length, deadlines, etc., can determine the end price. Still, you have to keep in mind that localization is an investment with handsome returns.

And while there is no clear formula that will give you the exact translation cost of a project, you can always contact an agency and discuss it with them. An agency can analyze your content, providing you with an overview of the services you will need for your next translation project.

Get a Free Consultation & Quote

Get in touch with us for a free consultation & quote of your Translation & Localization Project.

Top 10 Translation Companies in Taiwan

Top 10 Translation Companies in Taiwan

Taiwan is an island nation located off the southeastern coast of China. Despite its relatively small size, Taiwan is home to over 23 million people and is recognized for its prosperous democracy, advanced economy, and vibrant culture. It plays a significant role in...