“I need a French translator!” – A guide for the first-time translation buyer

So, you’ve just been tasked with organising the translation of some of your company’s marketing material or technical manuals into French. You’ve never handled a translation project before, and suddenly you’re in at the deep end.

"I need a French translator! Ahhh!"

Don’t panic! You’re reading this blog, which means you’re already in safe hands. Plus, organising a translation project can actually be a lot more straightforward than you might think. Just answer these 5 simple questions to make sure you get a fantastic translation.

1. What language do I need?

Now this might sound obvious, but when you get in touch with a translation company, you will need to know the language you want the document translated into. You should also consider where in the world you want people to read your text: though they may be neighbours, there are some differences between the variants of French used in France and Belgium, for example. (Not to mention Canada and Switzerland!) This applies to plenty of other languages too, including English, so have a read of ourlanguage variants blog post to find out more.

2. What’s the purpose of the text?

If you’re new to ordering translations, then you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s as simple as taking each individual word and writing the exact equivalent of it another language. In reality, though, there are countless factors that can influence a professional translator’s choices during the course of their work, and the intended purpose and audience of your text are right at the top of that list. That’s why knowing the type of document and what the translation is going to be used for is absolutely vital.

Armed with this knowledge, a good translation company will be able to select a translator whose experience and expertise perfectly match your needs. Plus, knowing the purpose of your translation is important when it comes to choosing exactly what service you require: here at Surrey Translation Bureau, for example, we offer a range of different service levels designed to suit the various requirements you may have.

Say you’ve received a letter and just need to know what it says for internal, information purposes; then the single professional translator and automated QA checks of our core translation service (Translation and Checking) will be best. Or maybe you’re preparing marketing material to accompany a product launch on a new market? Our Translation and Revision service, with two qualified, rigorously tested professional translators working on your text, will ensure precision.


3. How big is my text, and how soon do I need it translated?

This may seem like another obvious point, but it bears repeating: the longer the text for translation, the longer you can expect the translation process to take. Taking into account all of the necessary research, planning and careful consideration that your project demands, a professional translator can handle approximately 2000 words of translation per day. Add in a day or two for project planning and QA procedures and, so long as you know the size of your file, you can easily work out a reasonable timeframe for your project. Therefore, it’s always best not to put off organising your translation and start sooner rather than later. We can sometimes get your translation back to you more quickly if it is an urgent project.




4. What format are my files in?

Naturally, a builder is going to want to see your plans before quoting you on your extension, right? Well, a translation company will normally need to see your document before providing you with a quote for the translation too. (Confidentiality is standard practice at STB, but we can also sign an NDA if you like.) We use automated document analysis software to check your file to ascertain an exact word count. This will ensure you receive as accurate a quotation as possible, and could even save you some money, so it really is worthwhile.

At STB, we’re able to work with pretty much every file format under the sun. To get the best results, though, it’s ideal if you send your file in an ‘editable’ format, like a Word doc, a PowerPoint presentation, or an InDesign file. These formats facilitate the translation process and allow us to deliver your translation formatted identically to your original document. If you only have a PDF, a JPEG scan of a physical document or something else entirely, then don’t worry! Just get in touch and one of our team will be happy to talk through it with you.

In addition, if your company has style guides, any reference material or certain preferences for terminology, send these to us. This will ensure the translation reflects the style you are looking for.


5. What do I need to know about quality and pricing?

So you’ve answered all of these questions and you’re ready to contact a translation company to make your project a reality. Great job! You still need to make sure, though, that you find a partner to work with who is every bit as invested in your project as you are. When looking for a translation agency to request a quote, keep an eye out for certain distinguishing features, such as membership of professional bodies like the ITI or Elia, or accreditation to the quality standards such as BS EN ISO 9001:2008 or the translation agency specific standard, BS EN ISO 17100:2015. These qualifications will give you peace of mind that your translation is being handled by professionals.

Once you receive your quotation, be sure to read through it thoroughly and be sure that you are all on the same page about what the scope of the project covers. Once you’re happy, you can confirm the translation project and then sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that all of your translation needs are being taken into consideration. Phew!

Whether you’re looking to organise your first translation or your hundredth, email us today at hello@surreytranslation.co.uk or give us a call on +44 (0) 1252 733 999 for a quotation.