Translation Embassy | How much time is needed for a translation?
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How much time is needed for a translation?

10 Jul How much time is needed for a translation?

Every translator has definitely come across a challenging, strict or even impossible deadline once or several times in their career. Customers often tend to order last minute translations, considering them as a final detail to complete their project without allocating a suitable amount of time for them. The last-minute approach definitely creates problems and tends to underestimate the translation process.

To better understand time requirements, let’s analyze the tasks a translator has to complete. The time needed for an assignment depends on the following factors:

  • Difficulty and specialization: a general (ex. informal dialogs or horoscopes) and technical, legal or medical text do not require the same effort and time of course. Depending on the difficulty level (specialized subject, language use and syntax) a one page assignment may be completed in short or longer time.
  • Research: research is done to verify the content, specify the correct terminology and identify the appropriate style. All these elements (content documentation, terminology and style) are essential to assure that the text serves its purpose and is functional and should not be treated rashly or lightly.
  • Formatting: it sounds simple, but it can be a strenuous and time consuming process. Although it doesn’t belong to the core translation duty, it is part of the whole process and can require a lot of effort especially in documents with complicated structure, like certificates, invoices, receipts, diplomas etc.

From the above one can easily conclude that a translation is definitely not a detail or a simple procedure. It is rather an important and complicated task, which adds value to the general project (whether it concerns the promotion of a product, service, cause etc.) and should be treated as such, when planning and setting deadlines.

Accepting an impossible deadline may please the customer, who feels relieved in the short-run. Imagine what a disappointment it involves though, if a superficial work produces a bad result. An impossible deadline raises serious risks for the functionality of the text, since it doesn’t leave enough space for a proper research and not all parameters are analyzed or seriously taken into consideration, when no time is left. And if a text does not serve its purpose properly, then the whole effort goes to waste and the client may need to revise or redo the work. This results in delays, waste of money and frustration.

Another solution to avoid a superficial approach is to divide the text among 2, 3 or more translators (depending on the volume and available time). This is a good solution, but a bit risky. Its success depends on coordination. The translated text should present a uniform approach with regard to terminology and style in all its parts. When it comes to terminology a good cooperation and a strict coordination of the translators’ team is required. As for style, an overall review after the text is finished will help align the translators’ personal ways of expression across all parts of the document. If time restrictions do not allow us to take these further steps, then the quality of the whole text can be jeopardized. To avoid negative implications the best you can do is assign the whole text to one professional or in case a team of professionals is needed (ex. for extremely large volumes), make sure the deadline is conveniently set to allow space for a good organization, coordination and review.


Whether you need it for commercial or personal use, a translation is not a simple, automatic process. A professional approach requires dedication, research and documentation. To ensure a good result, listen to the expert’s advice and schedule responsibly. We all strive for a quick service, but as professionals we should not compromise quality for a swift, superficial handling.

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