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Translation Cost Estimate Explained

translation estimate

When you request a quote from a translation agency, you may find quite a few items listed on the estimate, while you expected just something straightforward, like “Translation.” Some of these items may be confusing. Read this article, so that you can understand them better next time.


This is the central item on an estimate and usually the most costly one. Translation is the main service, which involves at least one linguist translating your materials from the source language into the target one. This service may also include editing by a second linguist. This is a requirement of the EN 15038 translation standard and is recommended for high quality.

Repetitions and matches

An estimate may include repetitions, which are identical text units occurring several times across your materials. Since repetitions usually do not require much effort to translate after the first occurrence is translated, they lend themselves to a discount. For example, we charge 30% of the regular rate for repetitions.

Another source of discounts is matches with a translation memory—a database of previous translations made for your company. TM matches are similar to repetitions, but the repetitive text units are not within the current project, but across a previous project and the current one. Remember to keep your previous translations, so that you can re-use them in the above-described manner. If you work with the same vendor all the time, they will maintain a TM for you.


DTP in translation means formatting a translated document after it is translated. The more difficult the formatting is, the higher the cost. A simple Word document with no images or charts requires little DTP. A 500-page InDesign file with images, tables, charts, and cross references requires much more effort in terms of DTP.

If a file to translate does not have any formatting at all, no DTP is required. This usually applies to intermediate files produced just to provide text to a vendor in a translatable format. After translation, the text is inserted into the final format.

You may choose to do DTP on your end. For example, if you have an InDesign document that was prepared by your graphics vendor, you may want to have the same vendor format the translation as well, since he knows the document better than anyone else.

Re-creation of formatting

Whereas DTP is formatting the text after translation, re-creation of formatting is a similar service that takes place before translation. If you send a text as an uneditable image or a PDF file, or if your text is generally editable but has uneditable pictures, translating these texts will be a challenge, since translators prefer to work on editable text. As a result, your vendor will need to prepare the document for translation by making it editable and restoring the original formatting. For example, if you send a 100-page PDF file with many images, tables, and graphs, it will require a lot of preparation, which will appear on the estimate as “Re-creation of formatting” or a similar name.

Sometimes, to reduce confusion, this might appear on the estimate just as ”DTP,” even though formally this is not DTP, which occurs after translation.

Post-DTP proofreading

After your vendor completes DTP, it is important to have the final document reviewed for both formatting and linguistic issues. Ideally, this is done by someone from the translation team, such as the original translator or the editor. They will review the document and either fix the problems themselves or add notes for a graphic artist, explaining how to fix them.

With simple projects, your vendor may not charge you for this proofreading, as we do. In larger projects, however, post-DTP requires considerable effort and communication between the translator and the graphic artist, so the associated costs are unavoidable.

Project management

Whereas smaller translation agencies often include management fees in the translation rate, larger agencies may consider this a separate service. Projects with multiple language combinations and more challenging tasks may require quite a few project management man-hours.

Client review

If you are planning to review the translated files and want your  vendor to check them, you will likely pay an additional fee for this service, especially if your changes are mostly preferential. If you made changes to correct the errors made by the translation team, however, your vendor should not charge you for checking these corrections.

Minimum fee

Since each translation project involves project management and administrative tasks such as invoicing, it is usually subject to a minimum fee, even if it is just a few words.

To learn about how much some of these services may cost, read the article about translation rates.

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About the Author

Roman Mironov
Roman Mironov
CEO & Founder

As the founder of Velior, Roman has had the privilege of being able to turn his passion for languages into a business. He has over 15 years of experience in the translation industry. Roman has helped dozens of clients increase sales by making their products appealing for speakers of other languages.