What we are usually asked about

Why chose BabelOn-line? What is your USP?

Over 18 years’ experience and still hungry for quality. We treat every project with great care. We use technology (it helps with consistency and speed) but still translate by hand.

In short, we provide superior translations at a competitive price.

If it is worth translating, it is worth translating well.

What languages do you translate from and into?

We obviously do a lot of English into other languages: we very often translate into French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese or Arabic. But we also have specialists for more “unusual” languages, ranging from Hungarian to Kannada or Icelandic.

We also translate from all these languages back into English. In any case, our approach is always to select the right linguists – a seasoned translator who understands your industry.

Why not call or email us to tell us about your project?

How much does a translation cost?

The industry standard is to charge by the word.

BabelOn-line rates will usually vary between 0.08 and 0.14 GBP per word. The cost per word will vary according to a number of factors:

  • bigger projects can benefit from volume discounts
  • if you have many repeated words, our translation memories will help bring the cost down
  • the rate will vary depending on the target language(s)
  • technicality and timeframe: translating a complex PowerPoint on a tight deadline will be more expensive than a non-urgent, non-technical text.

We respond to quote requests very quickly. Take the guesswork out of the equation and request a quote.

How long will it take to translate my document?

We know that speed is often of the essence.

  • most short translations of less than 1,000 words into widespread languages (French, German, Spanish…) will be processed well under 48 hours, usually 24 hours after our order confirmation.
  • translations in the region of 2,000 should take around 48 hours or less
  • longer projects can be allocated to a team of linguists. Please contact us for a quote.

Who will translate my document?

All our translators are professional translators with many years’ experience. They can be based in the UK or abroad. They always translate into their mother tongue.

We select the best individual for your project in our database of talents. That is, the linguist with the most experience but also the most qualifications in your specific subject matter.

We pay our translators fairly, thus ensuring that they work to the best of their ability.

Which industries or specialist topics do you cover?

We only translate for businesses. With over 18 years’ experience, we now have a database of 256 linguists (to date in March 2018) covering most industries and languages. We work hard to match each project with the best linguist for the job.
Here are a few industries we very often translate for:
  • Automotive
  • Brand magazines
  • Brochure, collaterals and commercial documents
  • Risk management and Insurance
  • Foreign aid and development
  • Internal Communication
  • Advertising, transcreation (adapting texts to foreign markets), rewriting
  • Telecoms
  • Hotels and hospitality
  • Engineering and Defence
  • Renewable energy and waste management
  • Oil
  • Luxury timepieces

Translation rates seem to vary significantly from an agency to the next. Please explain?

Translators and agencies are a very much like tradespeople.

Big Dave down the road says he is happy to redecorate your double bedroom  for £450 all in.

Elite Decorators come in at £250 a day times 5 days plus cost of paint, so probably £1,500.

Big Dave comes to your place with a bucket of paint, old trainers and no protection sheet. Elite will painstakingly fill in all cracks, rub them down, carefully lay masking tape and keep the site immaculate.

You have got the idea. Translation works in the same way. Some linguists will research the current terminology, polish the text so it reads like an original. Some other will work for agencies paying offering very low rates and have to work unsustainable volumes to survive.

BabelOn-line believe that if it is worth translating, it is worth translating well. We will try to help you reduce the volumes to translate and will offer competitive rates.

Can you quote for the translation of a document that is still in progress?

This is a classic question, in particular for the media industry – it is indeed difficult to estimate the future word count of a magazine or a document.

We will be happy to provide you a ball park figure that will help you flesh out your budget. Having a sample of the document you plan to translate will help us refine our estimate.

How can I keep the translation costs down?

Quality translations are labour-intensive, which explains their price.

We will be happy to help you keep costs down:

  • strategy: sometimes, you do not need to translate a document in its entirety (some sections can be summarised or left in English altogether)
  • sanity check: we will flag material to translate that is out of date, low value – or can be left in English and translated only if requested by the end user.

Can you provide a test translation?

Yes. For businesses with potential repeat project, we will be happy to discuss your requirements and arrange a free translation sample – up to 250 words.

This sample will be translated by the translator who will actually be in charge of your project. This is important : many agencies will use a top notch linguist for the tender sample and then sub-contract your documents to cheaper translators.

Please contact us to arrange a sample translation.

Machine translation is free. Why not use it?

Some of the best things in life are free. To date, translation is not one of them.

Machine translation (or MT) is definitely improving, but still has glaring issues:

  • Machine translation still reads clunky and unnatural. This is because the syntax, the way words are organised in a sentence, end up sounding like a poor duplicate of the original language. Of Yoda in Star Wars think. If you are the reader, you will not feel valued. Your brand image may be damaged.
  • When machine translation gets it wrong, it can be on an epic scale: if the computer misses a double negative, your translation may read the exact opposite of what you meant.
  • many companies offer human-edited MT. It is a slight improvement on “straight from Machine Translation”, but rewriting the translation to improve the syntax is simply too long.

What file formats can you translate?

We handle all the usual formats (Word, PowerPoint, Excel). We can also work on PDFs or more technical formats (XML-based formats). We can also translate and sub-edit files such as InDesign files and offer a translation that is ready for print. Oh, and WordPress too!

How do I work out the number of words in my document?

You can use the word count function in Microsoft Word to find out.

Windows: word count is visible in the bottom menu bar of MS Word, double click for info. On a Mac: in the top menu bar, simply go to Tools –> Word count.

If your document is not a Word format, it is usually fairly easy to do a “copy all” and paste the resulting text it in a Word file.

In any case, we will be happy to help you calculate or estimate your word count. Just contact us!

Are there any dos and don't when ordering translations?

Glad you asked! There are indeed a few rules of thumb that will help you get the best results – and keep costs down!
Things to DO
  1. Tell us briefly about the purpose of the translation: is this an internal document for which the deadline is the main priority? Or is this a high visibility document that requires 100% correctness?
  2. If available, send us any previous similar material in the target language. This helps us align our translations with your preferred terminology. In the same way, let us know if there terms that have to be avoided for trademark or legal reasons.
  3. How do you want the document to address your readers – depending on the country? Should the tone be formal, informal, jazzy? Do you want us tu use e.g. the French “vous” or the “tu”? Or do you want us to help you decide?
  4. Is the text to translate final and signed-off? Amends made a later stage can generate delays and extra costs. It is always better to schedule your project and send us a final (or almost final) version.
  5. Is your document in a specific format such as InDesign, xml, or is it even a WordPress Site? In most cases, we are able to translate and carry out the final layout edits directly in your original format.
  6. Are the documents confidential or subject to a time-embargo? Will you need NDAs?
  7. Is it OK for our translators to contact a client representative in the target country to clarify ambiguous wordings or find about the client preferred terminology?
Thing to AVOID
  1. Send us all your files in bulk without carrying out a quick sanity check. Old blog entries, descriptions of products that are no longer in your range, long non-essential legal pages all add up to the cost and deadline.
  2. Leaving it to the last second – if you can avoid it. Translation are processed “by hand”. We want to pick the best linguist for the job. Usually, if an agency say they can start your project right this instant, you should worry about who will be processing your translation.
  3. Sending documents that are still “in progress”: this usually saves a little time upfront but may well hit your budget as amends coming a later stage will not benefit from volume discounts. If you anticipate a substantial volume of final amendments, let us know. We can keep the translation team ready to carry out the last changes and help you find the t right balance between speed, quality and cost.

More questions?

Call or email us!