How to Make Sure You’re Getting the Best Translation Services

Last updated Jan 22, 2024
By Gwenydd Jones

How can you know if a translation is good if you can’t understand it? This article will tell you some simple ways of checking the quality of your translation. This way, you can make sure you’re getting the best translation services.Translators and translation agencies will talk until they’re blue in the face about translation quality. There are plenty of articles on this blog that explain the basics of translation quality assurance. The main message is that if you want the best translation services, work with a translator who is writing in their native language. And make sure they’re a professionally accredited translator.

Even if you’re working with the best, when you can’t understand the product you’re buying, you’re always going to be taking a leap of faith. Start by shopping wisely and commissioning the translation to a qualified professional translator working in their native language. After that, here are some ways you can double check the quality of their work, to make sure you’re getting the best translation services.

1. Run spellcheck

In Microsoft Word, open the document and press Ctrl + A to select all of the text. Click into the Review tab. In the language box, click “Language” then “Set proofing language”, and then select the language of the translation. Click “Okay” and then press F7 to check the spelling.

Remember that names and unusual words may be highlighted and you can ignore them. But, if there are spelling mistakes in the body of the text, then it means the translator hasn’t done proper quality checks. Don’t correct anything yourself. Go back to the translator and ask for an explanation. Their response will tell you whether or not it’s worth continuing to work with them.

2. Do a search for double spaces and for words that appear twice

From the “Home” tab in Word, click “Find”, to the far right. In the navigation box, hit the spacebar twice, to create a double space, and click on the magnifying glass. This will find any double spaces in the document. No professional writer should be delivering documents with double spaces mid-sentence. Double spaces after full stops are now considered old-fashioned in English, which implies the translator isn’t staying up to date with their writing skills. These two issues are warning signs of lack of care.

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If you have some familiarity with the language, in the same search box write a simple word twice. A good example in English is “the the” or “to to”. In Spanish it might be “la la”. If there is no proofreader involved in the project, then small slips of this type can happen to anyone. But if you get a couple of them then the translator didn’t proofread to a professional standard.If you can develop a trusting relationship direct with the translator, that’s the route to getting the best translation services.

3. Contract another translator by the hour

If you’ve gone for a low-budget or amateur option then you have more reason to be paranoid. Consider contracting a known professional translator by the hour, to review the translation for you. If you can work directly with the freelancer, you’ll know that the person doing the checks is properly qualified. This can be a particularly good way of checking the quality of work from translation agencies. With agencies, you don’t know who is doing the translation, and they may have a non-native speaker doing the checks.

When I do this for clients, I activate track changes and write comments for the time that they contract. My clients are often Spanish, and so I write the comments in Spanish. That way they get a reliable quality report.

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4. Ask a native speaker to make sure you had a native translator

This can be a good way of making sure the text wasn’t written by a translator working in their second language. A native speaker will immediately recognise a text written by a non-native. There is on proviso with this: if you’ve asked someone to criticise, they’ll probably feel they should. So take the criticism with a pinch of salt.

If they bring up issues, then it’s reasonable to take a couple of them back to the translator and ask for an explanation. If you do this, you need to highlight specific mistakes in the text. The translator won’t be able to respond to subjective comments like “I didn’t feel it flowed”. If you’re working with a trained, professional translator then they’ll be able to explain why their choices were correct, or if they’ve made a mistake, then they’ll apologise and correct it.If you want the best translation services, work with a translator who is writing in their native language.

5. Ask a customer if the translation makes them want to buy

Whatever the purpose of the translation, ask your target if the translation is achieving it. Does it make them want to buy and if not, why not? Of course, the translator may not be the one to blame. The issue might lie in the original content. The result will also depend on whether you asked the translator to stick closely to the source text, or whether you requested a more creative translation. Part of getting a successful translation is giving good translation instructions.

For the best translation services, work directly with the freelance translator

With a translation agency, you don’t know which freelance translator is doing the work. If you can develop a trusting relationship direct with the translator, that’s the route to getting the best translation services. Good people know other good people. Established professional translators have a network of trusted collaborators. That means if we’re unavailable to help you at any given moment, we’ll know someone who can.Lucy and I are two freelance translators who work as a team to ensure quality for the customer, not only in our translations, but also in the service we provide. Contact us now for a quote to get the best Spanish-English translation services.

Written by Gwenydd Jones

Gwenydd Jones is a Spanish- and French-to-English translator, an SEO blogger and a course creator. She is the founder of The Translator's Studio and the lead teacher on its courses. Connect with Gwenydd on LinkedIn or contact her through this website.

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