How long does it take to translate a contract? | Lexika
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How long does it take to translate a 16-page contract?

Michal Kmeť Ciferník27.05.2021 For Customers Reading time: 3 min.
How long does it take to translate a contract

We often encounter a “shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted” kind of request, or learn that we have less time to complete a task than planned. So how can you ensure that your translator or agency translates your text as quickly as possible?

The time required to translate a text is influenced by many factors. Most demanding of all are illegibility, incorrect formatting, missing punctuation, abbreviation usage, and general unintelligibility.

Each text translation has its own peculiarities and time requirements. In this article, we will discuss everything that determines the time it takes to complete a translation.

Client requirements

At first glance, the client’s basic translation requirements are simple, yet they have the largest impact on translation speed. These include:

  • The language to which the text is being translated. Translations from English to German are often more readily available than translations from English to Kazakh.
  • Text content. There are far more excellent translators of audit reports than there are translators specialising in mitochondrial proteolysis studies.
  • Text length. The number of written pages on paper or on the screen is unimportant — text length is measured in words or characters.
  • The file format you use to send us the text to be translated. The DOCX and XLSX formats can be processed almost immediately, while other formats may require extra preparation time.
  • Text formatting level. The better the text is formatted, the fewer post-translation edits will be required.
  • Translation purpose. Translating a document for business or work takes less time when compared to the translation of a marketing text aimed at a large audience.

Once your translator or translation agency understands your basic requirements, optimal solutions can be rapidly developed.

Preparation for (express) translation

Working with the appropriate materials always streamlines the translator’s job.

Editable text format

Cutting-edge computer tools help achieve high quality and quick translations, where a PDF or hard copy of the original is not suitable. While these can be converted into an editable format, extra time might be needed.

Text formatted correctly into one of the editable formats will minimise pre-translation preparation time. MS Word, MS Excel and PowerPoint are some of the optimal formats for translations of contracts, business documentation, annual reports or presentations.

Mistakes and typos in the original

Even an “innocent” typo or missing comma can change the meaning of the text. The last thing you want is for the translator to do detective work at midnight, trying to decipher the author’s intentions or determine whether comma is missing in the text.

Reach out in advance

If you know that you’ll need an express translation of the contract you’re working on in the afternoon or tomorrow, arrange it with your translator or agency in advance.

Planning will prevent unnecessary stress and ensure that your preferred translator is available.

If you frequently order translations, it’s best to have your texts translated by the same vendor. This guarantees much more consistent and coherent translations.

To bring a translation even closer to your needs, provide your vendor with reference materials such as previous translations or established business terminology. 

Dividing the text among translators

When you have almost no time left and machine translation isn’t an acceptable solution, you can split the text among multiple translators.

In that situation, 3–4 translators should work together translating a contract of 8,000 words required overnight. They translate the text utilising CAT tools, enabling key terminology integration, quick quality assurance of the output as well as online communication during the translation. You should always be informed of the split in advance and asked for your grant of approval.

How long does it take to translate one page?

As one of our translators put it: “At least as long as writing it.”

The term “one page” can mean vastly different text lengths, and thus vastly different translation times. A dense text written in a small font can easily consist of up to 1,000 words.

Therefore, we rely on the number of words or characters when determining translation strategies. On average, translating 250 words (i.e., 1,800 characters with spaces) takes approximately 1 hour.

Other than the translation itself, translating a text also involves:

  • pre-translation text editing,
  • terminology research,
  • post-translation proofreading,
  • revision by a second linguist
  • and output quality assurance testing.

How long does it take to translate a 16-page contract?

To keep this estimate simple, we will assume this is a contract of about 4,000 words.

One translator is expected to take approximately 16 hours when translating a moderately challenging professional text of 4,000 words.

At LEXIKA, we translate texts from the fields of economy, law, technology, healthcare and IT every day. Should you approach us requesting an express translation in one of these fields, we will quickly find a well-suited and qualified translator or team for you.

Looking for a translator to translate a contract or document? Contact us and we’ll give you an individualised quote with an estimated delivery time.

Michal Kmet
Michal Kmeť
Managing director

My first contact with the translation industry dates back to 1993 when my father founded LEXIKA and I was delivering documents to our translators on a bike. Over time, I worked at almost every position within the company. I was the president of the Association of Translation Companies of Slovakia for four years and I am currently a board member of the European Union of Associations of Translation Companies – EUATC. I never miss a chance to attend professional events in the translation and localisation industry. Together with my colleagues from the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria I cofounded and organize Meet Central Europe.

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