How Long Will my Translation Project Take?

December 16, 2014

By Maria Fagrelius

This may seem like a very simple question, but it might not always have an easy answer. Usually, a small translation project consisting of 1-2 pages will require a minimum of 2-3 business days to complete (though it may be completed in the same day, if the translator and proofreader have time to dedicate to it immediately).  Larger translation projects will obviously require significantly longer.  Below you will find some guidelines to provide a general idea of what might impact your turnaround time:

  • As a standard in the industry, a translator can effectively translate anywhere from 2,000-2,500 words per day. If your document has repeated segments within the document or matches from previous translated documents, the output may be a little higher.  A proofreader or editor can effectively proofread 800 -1,000 words per hour.
  • Consider your service provider’s translation process. At LCW the translator translates, it is proofread by a second professional, and then sent back to the translator to be finalized. As soon as the PM receives the final file, it is checked and reviewed and sent to the client. It can sometimes take a little longer for the original translator to complete their review, however we found that it results in higher quality and accuracy when there is an open line of communication between the translator and editor.
  • If your project requires more than translation, and you are purchasing services such as: desktop publishing, e-learning, transcreation, voiceover or subtitles, the turnaround time for your project will be considerably longer depending on all the services you need. Each service will have to be added to the translation timeline and milestones to be covered. And keep in mind if the source isn’t an editable format like Word, and/or you have a designer laying out text in a language he or she doesn’t read, then another review by the translator is necessary.
  • Not every member of the translation team is located in the same time zone –  US business hours may be the middle of the night for a Russian or Vietnamese translator – meaning that work may not even begin until the following day, US time.  This is especially true when a translator and proofreader are working together on a project, but live quite far from one another.  Most of the time, our language teams are blended, with one member of the team in the USA and other member of the team located in the target country. This helps us to navigate time zones and rush projects.
  • Like all service professionals, translators and editors may be unavailable for personal or professional reasons, delaying their start on any project.  For example, August is the preferred time for Europeans to go on vacation. And while LCW can easily pass your translation to another translator, we have found that maintaining a translator-client match (where one has been established) improves efficiency, consistency of style, and overall quality.


LCW can typically provide you with an estimated delivery date for your translation upon receipt of the project (or during the estimate and discovery stage).  And finally, try to let us know when you actually need the project completed, so we can develop a realistic timeline that meets your needs.