By Sandra Bologna
When you need a quote for your translation, you simply call or email the agency and ask for one. What you don’t expect, is the array of questions about your translation from the agency quoting your request. From what format the documents are in, to how you would like the files delivered to you and everything in between –when requesting a quote for translation, or typesetting services, there is certain information that you will be required to provide to the translation agency. If you have this information readily available, you will save a great deal of time in back and forth emailing, or, if the request was made by phone; you can bypass some overwhelming and sometimes intimidating questions regarding your files. The more information the translation agency has regarding your documents, the more accurate your quote will be. This will also allow you to see exactly where the costs are coming from.
What should you have on hand before you call? Outlined below are some questions that you should expect to be asked and the information that you should have ready.
What language is your document in, and in what language do you want your translation?
Although this might be obvious; you must know what language the source documents are in, and into what language you need the translation. You might also be asked where the target country is. In addition to knowing the source and target languages, you will also need to know where, or for whom the translation will be used. This is important because some languages vary depending on the target country.
For Spanish, you will be asked if you want Latin American or Mexican Spanish for use in Mexico, or if you would like the translation to be in European Spanish —which is most commonly used in Spain.
If you require a French translation, you should request a translation into Canadian French for the Canadian market, and into European French, for the European market.
For Chinese, there are two distinctions; Traditional Chinese, which is used in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and Simplified Chinese, which is used in Mainland China. If you are not sure where the document is to be used, it is best to ask for a translation into Traditional Chinese.
Portuguese will vary depending on whether your translation will be used in Portugal or Brazil.
What is the subject of your documents?
You will also be asked what the document is about. Knowing the subject of your document is necessary for determining how technical it is. Sometimes there will be a surcharge for highly technical documents. The agency should only select those translators who are professionally qualified and experienced in the specific subject field. If you know what field the subject of your document is in, the agency will be in a better position to select a translator and editor team.
What file format are your documents in?
The agency will need to know what format the document is in, and what format you will be providing them with. Is the document in Word, Excel, or Access? Is it a PowerPoint presentation? Is it a website that requires localizing? Are they Quark files?
You might also be asked if you need typesetting services for your translation. If such services are needed, you will have to provide all source files with finalized designs (Quark, InDesign, etc.) and all image files. These files are required to produce print-ready files of your translation.
What about word count?
You do not need to know the exact word count of your documents. The agency will figure this out for you. Depending on the length and type of your document, the agency may use translation software to evaluate your data and count how many repetitions there are in the document. Discounts should apply to documents with a lot of repetition. If translation software is used, the agency should send the Translation Memory with final delivery of your documentation. You would then be able to use this Translation Memory in the future, if you require revisions to the translation, which would reduce time and costs considerably.
What if you have a website to translate?
If you are requesting a quote for your website: it is possible for the agency to download your website, analyze the data, and provide you with a cost estimate. Although often this method does not prove to be accurate, and large inconsistencies can result (particularly if you have a dynamic site). The preferred, and most accurate method, would be to send the agency all of the source material (i.e., HTML files, images with text, and text files). You should then be provided with an accurate cost structure and delivery time. If you are concerned about confidentiality matters, and prefer not to send the source files; the first method should be employed.
What else should I know?
The agency should be capable of delivering the files in your preferred format. If requested, the agency should be able to provide you with a methodology of the processes involved in your project from start to finish.
Having these answers handy before you call will help you get an accurate quote in no time.