Frequently Asked Questions

What should I look for in a language provider?
Are you a Company or an Agency? Does it matter?
Why don’t you offer “all languages” like others do?
How long does translation take?
What does translation cost?
Are my payment details secure?
What’s the best format to send for translation?
Why are some languages/subjects more expensive?
Quotes for translation vary enormously. What’s a fair price?
What’s certified translation? And do you need the original document?
Are you an approved translation company?
How much should I pay for interpreting?
What’s typesetting?
What’s transcription?

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What should I look for in a language provider?

Size is no guide – there’s super small ones and rotten big ones. We’ve been finding great language partners for 25 years, so here’s some of what we look for!

1. Can you trust what you see? Fancy websites DON’T guarantee good translators – buying a website’s easy so always dig deeper! In particular distrust “boilerplate” language pages – if a company offers a huge list of languages which all generate identical “Our [insert language here] translators are all…” type pages, they’ve probably little interest in the language beyond selling it. Look for language pages that are specific, informative and knowledgeable – it’s a good indicator the company CARES about the language (and getting it right). Perhaps something like our French or German pages.

2. Location, location, location! A really capable company’s probably not based in a bungalow so check the address – this SHOULD be on the Contact page. If there ISN’T an address – ask yourself, “what are they hiding?” If there IS one, Google the street and town – if no other businesses come up, it’s probably a residential “home office”, so a one- or two-person operation. Google’s marvellous Street View tool is even better!
Ask yourself – would a “leading language company” really be based in “Flat 3, Robin View, Camber Sands“? Oh – watch PO Boxes too, these can be VERY dubious.

3. They serious? Websites are a good guide – if they’re poorly worded and contain spelling errors, inaccuracies or bad links, it’s like walking into a car showroom with grubby oil-dripping vehicles. A company that neglects its own shop window probably won’t look after you either. That said, a shiny website’s easy and cheap so however good it looks, DO dig into the detail.

4. Got history? Everyone starts somewhere – it’s up to you whether to choose a new entrant, cheaper but lacking experience, or an established player with reputation and experience. Reputable providers will be proud of their history – we’ve been going since 1990, delivering over 33,000 projects (that’s 34 million words and 11,000 interpreting assignments)
Newcomers can be good, and we’ve found some crackers over the years, but we’ve also ditched many less able. Unless you’re able to QA language yourself, it’s safer to leave trying-out new providers to professionals able to spot – and fix – poor product.

5. Qualified? Language is big business and has inevitably attracted many less capable players (just Google “MoJ interpreting fiasco”). For a language company that “understands the question”, you should – as a minimum – be looking at senior and project management with good language qualifications. Always check a potential provider’s About Us page. If you don’t see good, specific language qualifications, beware…

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Are you a Company or an Agency?
Does it matter?

Unlike most language services we’re a Translation Company, NOT an Agency.

And yes, it matters! Translation Companies should translate and proof-read in-house and add value by assuring quality; we have 7 professionally-qualified linguists in-house, while all external translation services used are also professionally qualified and experienced.

Work is 100% reviewed and completeness and formatting checked. Better Companies follow strict Codes of Conduct to maintain high translation services standards, as the professional bodies demand – ours are the Association of Translation Companies (ATC) and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI – we’re Corporate Members).

Here’s a funny thing – did you know anyone can start a translation agency in the UK? Setting-up a “translation agency” requires ZERO language qualifications or translation ability, so sourcing translation that way really is a case of buyer beware. That’s why these FAQs offer advice on seeing through marketing hype to spot capable providers – check out What should I look for in a language provider?

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Are my payment details secure?

Yes. We hold no details of payment cards on any electronic system, and all card transactions are entered manually directly into the card machine by the Project Manager. The card machine uses a dedicated analogue phone line, so is outside any computer system so cannot be hacked into. You’ll receive your card payment slip attached to the receipted invoice we’ll provide with your translation, and no other copy is retained.

We are certified as PCI DSS compliant. PCI_DSS

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Why don’t you offer “all languages” like others do?

No provider can support “all languages” and it’s worrying some claim to – it takes years to build expertise in one language, never mind hundreds, and there’s over 6,000 in the world. We offer over 150 languages from trusted and experienced partners and our professional in-house team, and while we’re happy to source new ones for you, we won’t pretend we can do something if we’re not fully confident.

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How long does translation take?

Depends on the document; a one page certified translation can usually be done in a few days. Most translators can translate 2000-3000 words per day depending on the material; however, good ones usually have existing workload so there may be queue time as well.

If urgent, it’s often possible to split a project across two or more translators, although stylistic differences can be difficult to avoid.

Since we also properly review all work in-house to ensure product quality we may quote longer lead times than less diligent providers.

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What does translation cost?

That depends on the language, subject and degree of legal, technical or other specialist nature of the document. Our rates are charged per thousand source words (or a minimum charge if applicable) and vary between language combinations.

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What’s the best format to send for translation? PDF?

The more accessible text is, the easier and quicker it is for us to translate. Word, Excel, Powerpoint, or Open Office files, or HTM or PHP webpages, are ideal. We’re unusual in being equally able to handle Quark, Illustrator, and InDesign “DTP” or “Typesetting” files – which most translators can’t use at all – and provide full multilingual typesetting services in these.

Least usable are scans – usually TIFF or JPG files. These are totally inaccessible – you’re looking at a “photograph” of text that can’t be overtyped or edited and must be re-typed, in the same way as hard copy.

PDF is (usually) somewhere in the middle – the PDF must be first converted to something more usable which takes additional time and can incur cost. It’s also worth remembering that making a PDF (or “Portable Document Format”) is essentially a printing process, so can destroy many document features.

A PDF is always produced FROM another format or application, so wherever possible please provide us with the source format from which the PDF was made. More accessible formats can generally be delivered more quickly, and may also bring some cost benefits.

You’ll find lots more helpful advice on obtaining the best translation in our Really Helpful Friendly Guide to Language Translation

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Why are some languages/subjects more expensive?

Because there are fewer good translators for them. Take Finnish – Finland is a popular export market, but because the population’s small there are few Finnish translators (and fewer good ones). Half the size of France, it has less than 1/10 the population – the translator shortage makes the language about 50% more expensive than French.

Indian languages have the reverse problem – the population’s vast, but generally poor education means there are again few good translators – worsened by the fact that these translators are spread across 5 main Indian languages and several others.

Similarly, fewer translators specialise in robotics than in finance, so robotics tends to be more expensive to translate than annual accounts.

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Quotes for translation vary enormously.
What’s a fair price?

Like anything else, you get what you pay for. Consider buying a car: you could pay a few hundred quid for a banger or £30K for a new Jag, more, or somewhere in between, depending what you want or need.

Just to know roughly what simple text says, translation can be free – Google Translate for example can give you the rough gist and if that’s sufficient it’s a great solution.

If however you’re looking to market in another country, or have your material taken seriously with good, accurate translation that reads properly – professional quality-assured translation by qualified mother-tongue translators that has been fully reviewed and formatted – in other words, translation you can trust and use – a professional language Company is probably (!) a better bet. We’d advise against the cheap end of these too – in our 25 years’ experience, there’s ALWAYS a reason for low prices.

Our rates reflect our use of professional, qualified, and experienced translators and reviewers we trust, and the diligence of our in-house team to ensure an excellent standard.

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What’s certified translation?

This is usually required for use by the authorities; higher levels of certification, such as notarization or legalisation, may be required for legal use.

There’s much more information on our certified & notarized page here.

Do you need the original document?

In most cases, no. A scanned, faxed or photocopied version is acceptable. The original is only required if legalisation or notarization is needed.

What do I do if I want to use you?

Just tell us what you need, and please send us a copy of your document. We’ll send you a quotation, and once price and delivery timescale are agreed we’ll get your project underway.

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Are you an approved translation company?

Yes.

We are Corporate Members of the Institute of Translation & Interpreting and Members of the UK Association of Translation Companies.

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How much should I pay for interpreting?

This varies greatly with format – our interpreting page describes the different types. By far the costliest is conference interpreting – the interpreters are very highly trained and work under great pressure, reflected in the rates.

The vast majority of commercial and public sector users only need face-to-face (“F2F”) “liaison” interpreters. As a result of non-ideal procurement policy and some unprofessional providers, liaison interpreting in the UK is now really split between two camps. In the first are the providers like ourselves who insist on providing only professionally-qualified, trusted and approved interpreters, ensuring accurate and impartial communication from experienced and trained professional linguists.

In the second camp are providers who sell purely on price to win contracts, bullying interpreters down on rates or using interpreters ones who are under- (or un-) qualified – circumstances unlikely, or unable, to deliver good service. We know this because our own interpreters encounter this second camp in hospitals and courts while delivering our own assignments – and will often be asked how to GET qualified. The ongoing UK public service interpreting situation is worth bearing in mind if you’re procuring interpreting.

A liaison interpreter is charged on an hourly rate; usually a minimum fee of 2 or 3 hours (depending on the interpreter) is chargeable, plus travel time (typically charged at 50% of the hourly rate) and travel expenses. To minimize your costs we always try to find the nearest available qualified interpreter; fortunately, our reputation means we’re generally well-provided with resources in most areas.

Finally, you have the less costly option of telephone interpreting – while it’s also considerably less effective in many circumstances, it can work in the right situation.

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What’s typesetting?

The text effects and polished appearance in glossy brochures are almost always achieved by a designer in a “typesetting” or “DTP” (desk-top publishing) package, the industry standards being Quark, Illustrator and InDesign, although there are others.

However, these packages are expensive and require a lot of training, and as very few translators work in them almost all translation is done in Microsoft Word.  However, that then needs placing back into the designer’s Quark or InDesign layout to produce a translated version of the attractive source. We’ve been providing multilingual typesetting services since 2000, getting great reviews.

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What’s transcription?

A huge amount of data exists only as video or audio files, fairly unfriendly from the point of view of finding anything or using the content in a document.

Skilled transcription (audio typing) converts the audio content accurately into indexable text. Our mother-tongue multilingual transcription services handle large amounts of English and many other languages for research, software development and other purposes.

Again, it’s unfortunately a business that’s attracted a lot of low-end entrants who subcontract to non-mother-tongue transcribers, often in India or other low-cost economies, and many clients coming to us from these providers report issues with poor quality that’s inappropriate to professional use.

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