How to Create a Quote for Document Translation Services

July 28, 2011

Many of us find ourselves in team meetings or phone calls where someone needs to know how much translating a document costs. Whether you are a trainer who needs to translate a User Guide for new eastern European markets, or an advertising agency team member who must advise a client on brochure translation costs into 5 languages, the question of translation costs come up frequently, and usually without warning.

This is the first in a series of four blogs in which I will share a quick approach to calculating translation costs for documents, software, websites and multimedia 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 basis to help you understand the tasks required to build a reasonable document translation quote.

Getting Started with a Document Translation Quote

*In order to create a quote for a document translation project, a few simple tasks can help build the quote and determine document translation costs.

  • Common metrics used for actual translations, or as the trade calls it, Translation-editing-proofing (TEP), are typically 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 would be priced differently than copy writing or transcreation translation of marketing collateral. The steps below cover the ingredients for a generic document translation quote.

A Sample Document Translation Quote

Let's assume that your project encompasses:

  • *5,000 words
  • General subject matter
  • 25 page brochure
  • Adobe InDesign source files
  • No graphics have text that requires 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 (DTPQA) $55.00/hr 0.75 hour $41.25 $82.50
Output (PDF) - - - -
Subtotal $2157.5
Project Management Fee 10% $215.75
Total $2391.25

Please note:

  1. Per word rates can vary between languages and results of translation memory usage
  2. DTP hours can vary depending on complexity of the formatting
  3. Glossary is assumed completed with above example as part of account management

Overview of Basic Tasks Included in Document Translation Quote

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. Hourly pricing is also available.

Desktop Publishing QA (DTPQA)

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 including client review and approval process, status reports/calls and budget tracking.

GPI's Translation Portal has a Quick Quote Calculator to help you calculate a quote on a specific document translation project, calculating the cost and schedule if you can provide the basic metrics of language pairs, word and page count. To use the Quick Quote Calculator for a no-fee Quick Quote, simply create an account on our Translation Services Portal.


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

Useful resources on translation industry definitions

Globalization Partners International (GPI) has created a series of blogs and website resource pages to help you understand key concepts and vocabulary used in the translation and localization process:

Globalization Partners International frequently assists customers with translation and desktop publishing of user guides, books, fact sheets, menus and brochures into a variety of languages, utilizing a variety of publishing software, including Adobe Technical Communications Suite. You may contact GPI at or at 866-272-5874 with your specific questions about your target global markets and your project goals. You may also request a Translation Quote for your project as well.

Document Translation
Translation cost, Translation services, Desktop publishing services, DTP, Document translation, glossary, project management

Optimizing InDesign Documents for Translation with TablesLocalization Kit Essentials for a Website Translation Project


  • Carbone TraduzioniOn Jul 30, Carbone Traduzioni said:
    Thank you for this post. You are providing really useful information. Actually, when a customer needs to know translation costs, it is quite difficult to quickly reply. There are many factors to take into account and they can vary according to the project and client's needs. This is why you should set at least some standard criteria to look at when starting to calculate you document quote. And I think the ingredients you are suggesting are essential for this purpose.
  • Daniela BustamanteOn Aug 01, Daniela Bustamante said:
    Carbone, thank you for sharing your input. You added some useful issues to the discussion.
  • Frederic ErkOn Aug 04, Frederic Erk said:
    It is an interesting article written with business in mind. I am writing a series of articles (let's say, a collection of notes!) about the excellent book "A Handbook of Translation" by Peter Newmark. And it is good to read about how to handle an essential part of the process of translation, which is to present and explain to the client how much he will have to pay to get the job (well) done. I like the fact that the project is presented to the client with options, so he can decide what he wants and how he wants it. I have found your mentioning Project Management Fees and Preliminary Engineering very useful (and entertaining!) Because this is exactly what it is: engineering!

    I look forward to reading your new articles!

    Kind regards,

  • Daniela BustamanteOn Aug 04, Daniela Bustamante said:
    Thank you for your comment Frederic - I will be posting another blog on quoting website and software projects in the near future as well!
  • Glenn DomagalskiOn Aug 04, Glenn Domagalski said:
    Great article Max. We have created what I call a “translation calculator” for estimating costs, as more often than not we don't have a word count as nothing has been produced for source yet. A simple Excel file that calculates based on an average publishing word count per page. Simply plug in your page count and it will calculate translation cost per language, Editorial Review, DTP and final in context linguistic review. Totals them all up for you. Really great for quoting!
  • Daniela BustamanteOn Aug 04, Daniela Bustamante said:
    Thanks for the post Glenn ... Excel is a great tool for developing budgeting and ROI calculators for sure! We use it for all sortss of localization planning applications.
  • ranaOn Aug 22, rana said:
    Please provide me with an online university that would teach you how to translate and interpret from one language to another. I live in the USA. Thanks.
  • SecoyaOn Nov 07, Secoya said:
    hey there I want to translate the quote never regret something that once made you smile and i want to know what that is in spanish. I might be in a completely wrong area can you help
  • How to Create a Quote for Document Translation Services | Business School for Translators | Scoop.itOn Dec 12, How to Create a Quote for Document Translation Services | Business School for Translators | said:
    to know how much translating a document costs. Source: Show Original …
  • How to Create a Quote for Document Translation Services | The Translation World | Scoop.itOn Dec 12, How to Create a Quote for Document Translation Services | The Translation World | said:
    to know how much translating a document costs. Source: Show Original …
  • Hieroglifs Translations RomaniaOn Jan 08, Hieroglifs Translations Romania said:
    Very valuable information given to all who needs translation services. Post allows to understand better the traslation service management. Thank you a lot for it.
  • Weekly favorites (Aug 1-7) | Adventures in Freelance TranslationOn Mar 26, Weekly favorites (Aug 1-7) | Adventures in Freelance Translation said:
    g! Translation & Languages Do you want a CV that will get you more translation jobs? (free e-book) by Marta Stelmaszak How to Create a Quote for Document Translation Services by GPI Translation Blog EMpTy Pages: Translation Crowdsourcing by Kirti …
  • Quote document | AbrajanvigilOn Jun 28, Quote document | Abrajanvigil said:
    cument Quotes from BrainyQuote, an extensive collection of quotations by famous authors, celebrities, and newsmakers. How to Create a Quote for Document Translation ServicesJul 28, 2011 … Many of us find ourselves in team meetings or phone calls …
  • Quotes translated | TransportesjmgOn Oct 01, Quotes translated | Transportesjmg said:
    any bi… Lost in Translation (2003) – Memorable quotesLost in Translation Quotes on IMDb: Movies, TV, Celebs, and more… How to Create a Quote for Document Translation ServicesJul 28, 2011 … Many of us find ourselves in team meetings or phone calls where …
  • Getting Started with a Website Translation Quote | andreasalatraduccionesOn May 14, Getting Started with a Website Translation Quote | andreasalatraducciones said:
    much will it cost?” This is the second in a series of four blogs in which I will share a quick approach to calculating translation costs for documents, software, websites and multimedia translation services. While the approach described is somewhat …
Contact Us FREE Globalization eBooks Request Demo Request Quote

Daniela has over 16 years' experience in the translation, localization and language instruction professions. She holds a degree in Sworn, Literary, Technical, and Scientific Translation from the Instituto Nacional de Enseñanza Superior Olga Cossettini in Rosario, Argentina. Starting her career as a translator for English-Spanish/Spanish-English in 1990 over the years she has worked for several Localization Agencies as a translator, assistant project manager and senior project manager. She has completed a wide range of professional certifications in document and website localization with emphasis on translation, budgeting, quality control and project management including The Localization Institute’s Triple Certification in Localization Project Management (Localization Institute Chico, CA, USA). She has managed a wide variety of document, website, software and audio-video localization projects utilizing different Translation Management Systems (TMS), Translation Memory (TM) and I18n and L10n tool suites.