8 factors to calculate the cost of a translation

Published on 07/07/2020

The total cost of a translation does not only depend on the volume of the document to be translated. In order to establish as accurately as possible the cost of your translation, we must take into account the following 8 factors We should also compare the rates offered by professional freelance translators and translation agencies.   

1. The number of words in the source language

In any translation, the number of words in the source text will be different from the number of words in the target text. Professional translators take into account the number of words in the source text when calculating the price of a translation.

2. The chosen language combination

The source and target languages play a decisive role in determining the cost of translation. The less demand there is for the translation of a language, the less supply there will be of professional translators, so the translators available in that combination will increase their rates. For example, a translation from Spanish to English will probably be cheaper than a translation from Icelandic to Lithuanian.

3. The type of document

Some documents require a higher level of specialization, which directly influences the cost of translation. For example, an article from a news blog may be translated by a non-specialist translator. On the other hand, a medical document will require the services of a translator who has both linguistic and medical expertise. 

4. The stages of the project

Aspects such as the text's own terminology, the stages of translation or the number of revisions and corrections required can also influence the total cost of the translation project.

5. Repetitions

Repetitions of terms and expressions in a text are criteria that can have a positive impact on the cost of translation for the client. It is essential that repetitions are detected from the outset in order to ensure perfect consistency of terminology, through the development of an intelligent glossary that can be reused for future projects.

In addition, the more repetitions there are in a document (manuals for similar products, legal texts with recurring expressions, etc.), the more time the translator will save in his work, which can lower the cost of translation.

6. The workload

The volume of work also significantly determines the cost of the project. With regard to this criterion, we should make a comparison between the types of translators that exist. 
A freelance translator will not be able to apply a discount depending on the volume of work, as he works alone. On the other hand, a translation agency may divide the workload between several specialized and qualified translators.

7. The layout

DTP can also have an impact on the cost of translation. Certain elements must be taken into account that can change the cost of translation, such as the presence of tables, graphics or diagrams in the source text or the need to use programs such as QuarkXpress, FrameMaker, Point or Illustrator.

8. Delivery date

Finally, the delivery date also influences the total cost of the project. If the delivery date of a project is very tight and practically impossible for a single translator to meet, the client will have to use several translators through a translation agency.


Both freelance translators and translation agencies take these 8 factors into account when calculating the cost of a translation project. However, translation agencies have more flexibility. 

At AbroadLink Translations, we offer 4 standard service formulas, as well as a personalized formula, adapted to the client's needs. The budgets we make do not vary and detail precisely each of the services we offer.

Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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