Translation turnarounds: What is included in the timelines?

September 8, 2022

When booking translation services, it is likely that you are working to a deadline. And sometimes, these can be tight. However, for a high-quality, ready-to-use translation, there is more to the process than simply a translator converting the words on the page, and this can take a little longer than you may expect.


As a translation partner for many global businesses, we appreciate how critical your timelines are. Often business progression can hinge on them! While we always go the extra mile to meet any short deadlines, on occasions, it is not physically possible.


Therefore, we’ve compiled this guide to what’s involved in turning around a translation project to help you build the necessary time into your schedules so everything runs as smoothly as possible and deadlines are met.

planning, timelines


Three main phases are involved when carrying out a translation project: planning, translation and production, and quality control.

Phase 1: Planning the translation


On receipt of a client’s request, the translation partner’s project management team will carry out various tasks before any translation work is started.


These tasks include:

  • Reviewing the project requirements and collating all the necessary supporting material, e.g., style guides and terminology lists
  • Preparing the files or file engineering, e.g., extracting the source text from the original file
  • Assembling the linguist and production teams, including native, subject-specialist translators, editors/reviewers and proofreaders, and desktop publishers.
  • Briefing the teams, which usually includes comprehensive written instructions and briefing calls


Depending on the size of the project, this planning stage can take anything from a few hours to 2-3 days.


Phrase 2: Translation and production


The first step in this phase is rendering the source text into the target language. Again, depending on the size of the project and whether it is a single or multiple market project, one or several translators can be involved.


Typically, all linguists will work using CAT (computer-assisted translation) tools that include translation memory software. Not only does this technology make the process more efficient while still leveraging the skills of a human translator, but it also allows different sections of the same file to be worked on simultaneously by various linguists.


Therefore, once the translator completes a section of the file, the editor or reviewer can begin their task of evaluating the file for accuracy and brief adherence and localising it for cultural and contextual suitability.


On average, a translator can produce around 2,500 words per day. Editors/reviewers can usually work at twice the speed, reviewing and updating the translated text at a rate of approximately 5,000 words per day.


These estimates assume that the current project is the linguists’ only focus and the content is not overly technical. Highly technical translations will take longer.


Once the linguists have created and agreed upon the translated text, it is reintegrated into its original format. It is now the turn of the desktop publishers to review the layout and design. As written about in our recent blog, translated text can cause changes to design and layout, so desktop publishers are engaged to ensure the finished product looks polished, professional and as close to the original as possible.


Images and other visual elements must also be reviewed and localised where necessary.


If the content is in a digital format, verifying the integrity of the programming text post-translation is essential. At Mission Translate, we utilise our custom-built tool, MTCodeCheck, to carry out this task. We also engage linguists to conduct a link check process, where appropriate, to ensure all link paths are correct and working properly.


Turnarounds for the design and technical phases vary per project, each with its unique requirements. A translation partner would be able to advise you on timelines for your specific brief.


Phase 3: Post-translation quality control


At this point, professional translation partners will carry out quality control processes. These include:

  • Proofreading, such as checking spelling and grammar accuracy, formatting and presentation and adherence to the brief
  • Subject-specialist review, where industry experts review the use of specialist terminology
  • Linguistic sign-off, the final review stage where linguists ensure no errors have arisen during the reintegration of the translated text into the finished format

digital design


At Mission Translate, we offer end-to-end service for our clients’ translation projects, meaning all of the aspects described above and any bespoke project requirements are incorporated into our offering.


Every element is handled by our highly experienced and dedicated project management team, who can also help you with any guidance you may need with understanding the timelines involved in your specific project.


To have a chat with our team about your upcoming projects, please email us at [email protected].


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