Translation price - What factors affect translation costs?

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When seeking translation services, it is useful to understand what is included in the service and what factors affect the price - especially if there is a high volume of texts to be translated or long-term translation needs. Below, we have gathered factors that affect the price of the translation.

The length of the text to be translated

It is rather apparent that an important factor affecting the price of a translation is the length of the text to be translated.  Typically, the length is measured in words or pages, and quotes often provide a price based on the word count. Occasionally translations are billed by the hour as well.

The quality of translation

There are as many translation needs as there are people, and it depends on the language company what kind of packages they offer. Some companies might sell machine translations, which have been only lightly post-edited to remove the most serious errors, as the most affordable option.  Proofreading, client reviews, and editing can be billed separately, or they can all be included in the unit price. 

Project management

The price also includes workflow, which consists of project management, co-ordination, and the internal infrastructure of the language company. Some language companies offer customer-focused service, which can mean assigning a co-ordinator and a language team for a specific customer. This ensures that the customer will always receive service from the same team that is familiar with their needs. 

A regular customer will also benefit from translation memories, which are often included in the price of a translation. This means that the customer’s previous translations will be saved in a database, which will speed up the translation process and ensure that the same terms are used in different language versions.

Additional services, file conversions, and delivery

Conversion refers to changing the file format of the source text. If a customer delivers the source text as a PDF file, it must be converted into a format that allows the text it contains to be edited, and this will be billed as a separate service. Since source texts can be delivered in various formats, a language company needs access to numerous tools to open and edit the files that customers send.

Language companies are typically flexible in providing other types of additional services as well.  Translation services can include, for example, text editing, layout, or glossary work to map out the essential terms used in the company's communication.

The finished translation will be delivered according to the customer’s wishes. The simplest delivery format is a standard text file, but PDF and layout files are also commonly used, though they always require converting. If necessary, translations can also be uploaded directly to the customer’s desired platform; for example, their webpage. 

Language pair

The prices of translations vary, depending on the languages in question. The law of supply and demand applies to language pairs as well: translations into less commonly requested languages cost more than translations into more common languages, as there are fewer translators available. For example, there are significantly fewer Burmese, Vietnamese, and Swahili translators than English, German, and Spanish translators. 

The price per word can also be affected by “the translation direction”, meaning that a translation from English to Finnish might be cheaper than from Finnish to English. In English, there are lots of short words such as “of”, “the”, and “to”. In Finnish, on the other hand, words are inflected, and therefore it usually takes fewer words to express something in Finnish than in English. 


Thanks to their broad networks, language companies can deliver orders on a tight schedule, but this might raise the translation price, especially if the task requires working outside regular office hours.

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