How long does it take to translate a document?

Typically our translators translate between 1,200 to 1,400 new words per day, That’s about 4-5 pages.

A standard A4 page has around 300 words. This is with standard size font – similar to Times New Roman 12 pt or Arial 12pt and single spacing.

You should be careful as some contracts can have up to 800 words in the fine print. So we have to look at the text, the format and the content. Legal translation would be slower than general business text for example.

Based on having a single translator working on a project, turnaround time can be estimated as follows: (total number of words / 1,200) + 2 days for project management and proofreading. Translation is normally faster than this, but this is a very good general guide for planning.

How to get a word count in Microsoft Word

Most editing tools will allow you to get a word count. In Microsoft Word you can find this under the ‘Review’ menu.

Selecting the word count button will display the statistics for the document you are working on.

Language Differences

For more complex languages like Chinese, Japanese, Urdu, Turkish, etc., the average translator output is a little lower. You should also take into consideration when planning your translation project, the communications overhead associated with working across different time zones.

With more than 50 global offices, we translate all languages in parallel. So even if a job involves translations into more than one language, it will take the same time as a job going into one language only.

Time to translate a document

Delivering Results

Should you require the translation to be delivered faster, we can adjust our teams accordingly. We always provide these base calculations to our customers to allow them to gauge the scope of their projects before translation commences. Our proofreaders average of approx. 6,000 words per day, depending on the complexity of the text.

Turnaround time can vary depending on client feedback and any issues that arise from time to time during the translation and proofing process. An example of this would be where, during translation, the team comes across a term that requires further clarification from the client to ensure that it is accurately interpreted and translated correctly in the target language. Our objective in relation to delivery times is to do what is best for the client and to deliver the highest quality translation. We achieve this by having one chief translator on each document or project.

Content also plays a role in translation delivery. Medical and legal texts would obviously be slower than general business texts.

We will always ask what type of translation you want during the quotation stage. We are often asked about different types of translation.

  • Internal Use
    This might be where you just want to check what a document says. For tenders, for example, clients may need a rough translation quickly so they can respond. In this case, we can reduce our proofreading stages to translate faster for you. The translation might have a few inconsistencies but is 100% fit for purpose.
  • Reference Only
    We often have clients that need documents to supply to a small audience for reference only. This could be a group of engineers being trained on a product. For this type of project, the documents have to be technically accurate but layout may not have to be perfect. It depends on the audience.
  • Print Quality
    The majority of our work is going to print so we have to double-check every word and sentence. This is the level we deliver by default

Document Questions

Here are some of the most frequent questions we’re asked about documents.

  • How big is a 300 word document?

300 Words is about a single A4 or letter Page with normal spacing and Font size Arial 10. It is the size of a standard document.

  • How many pages is a 1200 word paper?

Typically 1200 English words is about 4 pages long. So would take about a day to translate.

  • How much does it cost to translate a document?

You may like to read our page on translation pricing.

  • How fast can you translate a document?

This depends on the quality you need and the number of translators on the project. See more on speed translation.

  • How do I make documents faster to translate?

There are a number of design tips in our free e-book that will help your author documents that are easier to translate.

  • How many words on a terms and conditions contract?

What about the small print? This is one to watch out for. Some terms and conditions or legal agreements can have 800 words or more on a single page. Take a look at the back of your bank statement or mortgage. The fine print can be very extensive, and expensive to translate. We often recommend to clients to have the small print section as a separate document – so you only have to translate it once. It helps with document control and keeps the cost down for you.