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How to Create a Quote for Document Translation Services

Many of us find ourselves in team meetings or on phone calls where someone needs to know how much it will cost to translate a document. Whether you are a trainer who needs to translate a user guide for new European markets or an advertiser who must advise a client on brochure translation costs into five languages, the question of translation costs come up frequently, and usually without warning.

This is the first in a series of three blogs in which I will share a quick approach to calculating translation costs for document, software and website translation services. Translation project managers are frequently asked to help a client pull together a “quick” translation quote. The components listed below are a good foundation to help you understand the tasks required to build a document translation quote.

Getting Started with a Document Translation Quote

In order to create a quote for a document translation project, a series of tasks and metrics are required by your translation agency to build the quote and determine translation costs, including:

  • The common metrics used for actual translations, known as translation-editing-proofing (TEP), are typically calculated per word.
  • Desktop publishing (formatting) costs can be calculated per hour or per page.
  • Translation companies should also include a glossary development step and project management fee.

Technical document translations are priced differently than copy writing or transcreation of marketing collateral. The steps below cover the details of a generic document translation quote.

A Sample Document Translation Quote

Let’s assume your project includes the following:

  • 5,000 words
  • General subject matter
  • 26-page brochure
  • Adobe InDesign source files
  • No graphics have text requiring translation/localization
  • Translation from English into two languages: Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese
Tasks Cost per hour / word / page # of hours / words /pages Subtotal Total (2 languages)
Glossary Development
Translation-Editing-Proofing (TEP) $.18 /word 5000 words $900 $1800.00
Desktop Publishing (DTP) $55.00/hr 2.5 hour $137.50 $275.00
Desktop Publishing QA (DTP QA) $55.00/hr 0.75 hour $41.25 $82.50
Subtotal $2157.5
Project Management Fee 10% $215.75
Total $2373.25

Please note:

  • Per word rates can vary between languages and results of translation memory usage.
  • DTP hours can vary depending on complexity of the formatting.
  • The glossary is assumed to be completed in the above example as part of account management.
Overview of Basic Tasks Included in Document Translation Quotes

The basic tasks in a translation services project are:

Glossary Development

Key terminology is identified and extracted from the source files provided by the client. The terminology is translated and provided back to the client for review and approval. Following review and approval, the terminology is imported into a translation memory tool and updated as needed.

Translation-Editing-Proofing (TEP)

This includes translation of text, editing of the text by a separate translation team and final proofreading. Price depends on language and word rate classification.

Desktop Publishing (DTP)

DTP encompasses formatting of all target language materials including text and graphics to match the source language documents. GPI will utilize client-specified DTP applications.

Desktop Publishing QA (DTP QA)

After initial formatting/creation of new target language materials, GPI conducts a page-by-page review of the new target language materials for formatting issues against the original source materials.


GPI can provide client deliverables in any format requested. This could include Acrobat PDF, laser printed, offset printed and/or application source files.

Project Management Fee

This fee includes all aspects of project management by your GPI team including scoping, scheduling, project coordination, client review and approval process, status reports/calls and budget tracking.

Two Ways to Obtain a Quote

If you’d like to get a translation quote for your project, there are two ways to do this:

1. GPI’s Translation Portal has a Quick Quote Calculator to help you calculate a quote on a specific document translation project. It calculates the cost and schedule if you can provide the basic metrics of language pairs, word and page count. To use the Quick Quote Calculator, simply create an account on our Translation Services Portal.

gpi-how to quote a doc-qq

2. Free translation quotes can also be obtained from GPI by submitting source files through our Request a Translation Quote page.