Factors affecting translation costs

Imagine that you have a text and you need someone to translate it for you. After asking yourself where to find a translator and wondering how long it will take, comes the question of cost. Do you really think that the price is your decision criteria? If yes, enclosed you can find some of the main factors that influence  translation cost.

Every market has its own rules; however, there is a universal law that works in almost any industry. This is the law of supply and demand. Usually, high demand (popular language combination) and high supply (a large number of translators) means lower translation rates, while high demand and low supply mean higher translation rates.

But since there are many other factors in the translation industry that may cause price fluctuations, this law cannot be applied to the translation market in every possible case.


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What are these factors? The list starts right here:



Do you really need a professional translator? This answer depends on the quality and importance of your document and will determine whether or not you will hire a translator with experience or your nephew studying English to translate it for you.


When do you need it? NOW; ASAP; IT’S REALLY URGENT.  The faster you need a translation done the higher the cost will be.

Nevertheless, there is an exception from this statement too. If you choose a translation agency for an extensive and urgent project, the agency may not apply the extra charge if they are able to distribute a translation between several translators (certainly provided that such distribution is possible and the deadline is realistic).

If the translation is not urgent, the quotation in most of the cases is reasonable.


Translation of technical, legal, medical, industrial text is not the same as translation of the text for a travel or the entertainment industry. This kind of translations requires special skills and knowledge; therefore, you should know that the price will be higher than general subject text.


Normally agencies can give you discounts for large volumes and ongoing translation projects. Typically, more than 100 pages.  It is good to take into account that not all freelance translators offer this type of discount; it is an unwritten rule for the agencies.





Your audience defines the processing stages of the translation, hence the rates.  If you need a translation of in-house documentation that do not require high quality and accuracy, translation rate for such tasks can be notably lower, especially if you have trustworthy LSP’s on an ongoing basis. In this situation, only translation is enough to get the required results.

But if you need to translate a scientific article, rates will be significantly higher than in the previous case as this kind of translation requires additional quality control, adaptation to the need of a specific audience, review of style, terminology, the entire translation process may involve several people (translator, industry expert, proofreader, technical editor, copy editor, DTP specialist, etc.).

The reasons stated above are causes higher translation costs.



With the development of technology and launching of new software, we have to be versatile.

Nowadays, most of the documentation comes in MS word, Excel; PowerPoint. However, there are many other file formats used in various industries. For example, engineers use AutoCAD software to prepare drawings, designers use CorelDraw, Photoshop, and other tools to develop their concepts.

These software tools save documents in different file formats, therefore it is important to find a translator who is familiar with that specific software and can work with certain formats. This also may cause additional charges.

Another example, of when an extra charge can be applied, includes PDF files or OCRed handwriting. In this case, your LSP would have to process and prepare documents for translation or provide DTP service after translation.

As a conclusion, we suggest you to inform yourself on all the above mentioned before choosing a company or before saying “oh it’s too expensive” as translation prices will vary.