Short texts for translation – how are they invoiced?

Magnifying glass

Do you want a single sentence translated into 10 languages and need the finished texts back as quickly as possible?

How much does it cost when very short texts need to be translated urgently into another language? How much work does this actually involve? You have probably already asked yourself this or similar questions if you urgently require a small text to be translated into lots of languages. Google Translate is no help, especially if you have important short texts which will also be featured on your company flyer.

What constitutes short texts?

In the translation industry, short texts refer to the translation of texts that are fewer than 300 words. We differentiate between:

  • Very short texts (a few words to a sentence),
  • Medium-sized short texts of up to approx. 200 words and
  • Short texts of up to approx. 300 words.

Short texts can be a challenge

The length of the text says nothing about the demands it places on the translator. A short text could be a tricky headline, an instruction manual, a newsletter, a press release, correspondence or a category description for your online shop.

How much work is involved in translating short texts?

For the translation process, handling a short text can mean the same amount of work as handling a text of normal length. If the short text is directly related to other texts and content the customer is having translated, the short text must also be compared with the customer's translation memory in order to use the same terms and contexts. Even the translation of a short text must be checked, read and corrected, if necessary, by a proofreader, especially if it is going to be published. A project manager must coordinate the translation process and, last but not least, create an invoice.

How much does it cost to have short texts translated?

In order to translate a 10-word headline or a 200-word newsletter, it is not possible to calculate a per word price as this will in no way cover the actual work involved or the production costs. That's why short texts are usually invoiced using a flat rate, known as the minimum fee. The minimum fee applies per translated language and is set according to work involved and the purpose of the text. Depending on the text type, tiered minimum fees can be agreed for short, medium-sized and longer short texts. As a general rule, proofreading of the short text is included in the minimum fee. This means it will cost between €20 and €80 net per translated language to translate a short text. If a text contains over 300 words, it reaches the break-even point and is invoiced using the per word price plus proofreading costs.

The bottom line

Minimum fees for translating short texts are a workable basis for invoicing texts which cannot be charged at the per word rate due to their short length. Minimum fees cover the costs for translation, proofreading and the handling of small texts at a flat rate.