10 top don’ts when ordering a translation

Whether you are a company manager who needs to order a translation at a Chinese translation company, here are 10 simple rules that will help you be successful and avoid hiccups in your project:

Ordering Translation Services

Don’t order translation unless you know the final price.

Always get a final and fixed price before you order. Find out if there are any hidden costs in the proposal. For example, if you anticipate extra rounds of proofreading, let your vendor know in advance and make sure that it is included in the price.

Don’t use companies or translators that are a long way from home.

Ordering a Chinese translation? Don’t be tempted to order from a company or translator located in the South Pacific. Chinese is not widely used there.

Don’t assume anything.

Spell out the details of your project to the smallest detail. Does your requirement have a regional preference (e.g., Chinese for the mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Singapore)? Does your file have any specific DTP requirements? Avoid surprises by getting all the details to your vendor in advance.

Don’t wait until the last minute.

Since translation is a human process, delays can occur (e.g., sick translators, quality issues which require extra time). Try to factor in some extra time in the process to allow for the unexpected. Give your translation agency a deadline which is sooner than the real one.

Don’t get complacent.

No news may be good news but not when managing a translation project. Stay on top of things by sending frequent reminders to your people and ask for status updates. Often, people assume that the work is due today only to find out that the project started late or did not start at all.

Don’t send many different file versions.

Many times clients send files for a price quote and then replace the files with new ones when the project actually starts. This confuses the translator and can lead to errors. If you pulled a switcheroo on your vendor, make sure that they are working on the correct version of the document.

Don’t start to evaluate the translation only after it is done.

Ask your translation vendor for a partial delivery at the beginning of the project cycle and evaluate the translation carefully. It is much easier to provide feedback, change terminology etc. at that point then at the end of the project when everything has been delivered. If the work is very poor, it may be possible to cancel an order at the beginning. Once the vendor has sent you the 500 page manual, it may be too late to do anything about it.

Don’t antagonize your translators.

Professional translators take pride in their work and some will get insulted if you provide critique on their writing style or use of words. Remember, there are usually 100 ways to correctly write a sentence and anyone can mark up copy with a red pen. It is legitimate to get a second opinion but a smart project manager will be diplomatic and avoid confrontations which can harm teamwork later on.

Don’t delay payments.

Translators and translation companies like to get paid on time. They tend to get pissed when they are paid late and may not be happy to work with you again if that is the case.

Don’t hesitate to pay compliments.

I find that people like to get feedback on their work and that a sincere compliment can help establish a good relationship that lasts long after the work has been completed.