German English Translator Guide - Managing Your Translation Project

Hiring a German English translator or agency? The Translator German Guide explains how to maintain control of your translation project and prevent unpleasant surprises. At the bottom of this page, you'll also find typical translator price information, as well as other helpful resources. (Click here if you were looking for a free language translator.)

How to Manage Your German to English Translation Project

If you are hiring a freelance German English translator, you are likely to end up doing more project management work than if you send your translation to an agency. However, either way, it is important to keep the following steps in mind in order to maintain control of your translation project.

1) Recruit the right German English translator or agency for your project.

More on selecting a freelance translator from the Translator German Guide.

More on choosing an agency from the Translator German Guide.

2) Request a price and timing proposal.

Before hiring a new agency or freelance German English translator, we suggest requesting proposals from several candidates. When possible, it is helpful if you can e-mail the document to be translated along with the quote request. Make sure that you clearly label your e-mail as a quote request so that the translator does not start work before you approve the proposal.

Specify:

  • the languages of the translation and in what country or countries the translation will be used
  • which parts of the document are to be translated.
  • any special knowledge or subject matter background required of the translator
  • your formatting requirements (For instance, do you want the translator to maintain the current formatting of the document?)
  • any other services required apart from translation
  • any special timing requirements (If you require a very fast turnaround, be prepared to pay a surcharge.)

More on typical German English translator prices from the Translator German Guide

More on translation timing from the Translator German Guide

3) Reach an agreement with an agency or German English translator.

Always put your agreement in writing so that there can be no misunderstanding. If you reach the agreement in a phone conversation, send a follow-up e-mail summarizing key information such as project price, timing, and payment terms.

Before closing the agreement, double-check the document to make sure that it is complete and that all instructions are clear. Also take the opportunity to send the translator any reference materials that might be helpful, such as a corporate glossary or similar past translations you have gotten in the past, which the translator can use to check terminology (when sending reference materials, be sure to clearly label them as such so that your German English translator doesn't accidentally translate them!)

5) Monitor progress.

This is more important if you are working with a freelance German English translator than if you have hired an agency. If you don't hear from the translator after a day or so, check in to see how the translation is going and if any questions have come up. Sometimes translators are timid about "bothering" clients with their questions, so it is helpful to be proactive about communication. And if anything's going wrong with your translation or the project timeline, you're likely to get warning signals early on when it is easier to look for a solution.

6) Check the translation.

For important translations, it is a good idea to hire a separate native editor, when possible (or choose an agency that includes this in its service). Ask the editor to review the translation against the original line by line and to track or mark any changes made. Among other reasons, marking changes is important because too much editing alerts you that something has gone wrong -- either the translator did a poor job, or the editor was overzealous and decided to redo the translation. In both cases, you need to take action to sort the situation out.

"If the translation is for publication, then I don't think it's very professional just to use a translator. I think it should be professionally proofread as well."

- Katharina Wawrzon, Professional Translator German



If you decide not to hire a separate editor, you should do your best to check the translation yourself. Let's say it's German, and you don't speak a word of the language. You can still compare the translation with the original side by side and see if the translation appears complete. Is there a bullet list somewhere? If there are three bullet points in the original, there should be three in the translation. Are there numbers, names? Check to make sure they are the same. It's also a good idea to run the translation through an automatic spell-check.

Important: if you notice any possible errors in the translation, do not try to make corrections yourself unless you are fluent in the language. Bring your questions to the original translator or another native speaker.

7) Pay the translator.

Especially if you are working with a freelancer, your translator will appreciate a prompt payment and will be motivated to work with you again in the future.

Translator German Guide - More Resources

See typical German translation rates

Meet Katharina Wawrzon, Professional Translator German - Part 1

Meet Katharina Wawrzon, Professional Translator German - Part 2

Browse all topics in the Translator German Guide

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