The Telltale Signs of a Good Translator: How to Recognize Them

Recognizing the telltale signs of a good translator is essential when recruiting a freelancer. Selecting the correct person will save you a huge amount of time and hassle in the long run, as it will avoid poor quality work and unhappy clients.

Here are some of the main points to look out for.

CV and Cover Letter

First impressions are paramount. CVs and cover letters tell you a lot about writing skills and should be well-written and faultless. If a freelance translator hasn’t taken the time to ensure this, then you simply can’t trust their skill.

As well as spelling, punctuation, grammar and structure, you should also be looking for excellent content. If the translator is replying to an advertisement, then all the required information should be covered. Have they taken the time to research your company and include relevant references to it? Above all, it needs to be original enough for you to be sure that it hasn’t been copied and pasted from stock examples online.

Social Media

Look candidates up on social media. Translators should keep their social media platforms up-to-date and professional looking. A high-quality photo is a great first impression and completed profiles should give an idea of their experience and activity.

Referring to social media should be done even before contacting a translator. A stagnant, badly created social media platform may indicate that the freelancer is not as immersed in the industry as you would like. Are they worth taking the time to contact?


Once a translator has passed the CV, cover letter and social media checks, put their communication skills to the test. When you contact them for a quote or to ask questions after receiving their CV, they must respond in a timely manner. Taking too long may mean that you have to chase them on work deadlines.

Do their replies indicate that they understand what your project is about? Do they ask the right questions, showing that they know what a translation project involves? Even better if these questions make you think of issues you didn´t anticipate.

These are the basic telltale signs of recognizing a good freelance translator to work with in your agency. Each one is a minimum requirement. If a translator fails on any of the above points, you need to keep looking.

The Importance of Translation in the Workplace

With 37 million native Spanish speakers in the US, the importance of translation in the workplace is increasing. This is becoming a significant part of business for certain industries such as construction, where over a quarter of the workforce is Hispanic, with 10% being in managerial roles.

Neglecting translation can lead to a lack of morale, safety issues and potential legal proceedings.

Documents to translate into Spanish

When a business looks at translating material into Spanish there are certain key documents that should be at the top of the list.

Employee Handbook

When a new employee joins a company, an employee handbook is a valuable resource for them. It tells them about the company procedures and policies, and gives them a go-to reference for when they need information. By translating this into Spanish, you are ensuring Spanish-speaking members of staff have all the necessary information.

Safety Manuals and Signs around the Workplace

Safety has to be paramount in any workplace. If a large part of your staff speaks English as a second language, then translating safety manuals and signs will protect both them and you. From safety manuals for machinery to simple ‘mind the step’ signs, there are many aspects that should be considered.

Several years ago, there was a serious gas leak at Tyson Foods when a Spanish-speaking employee misunderstood a warning label on a container. This could have been avoided if the company had invested in translation.

OSHA and Healthcare Forms

Failing to translate forms used to record injury and illness can lead to mistakes being made. If an employee does not understand the form and completes it incorrectly, legal and ethical implications can arise. This can be costly for companies if it leads to compensation payouts. OSHA estimates that $1 billion is paid per week in workers’ compensation.

Tax Forms

Only having an English version of tax forms can put Spanish speakers at a serious disadvantage. Filling in tax forms inaccurately due to misunderstanding can lead to them receiving less pay than they are entitled to, but could also result in accusations of tax fraud.

All Company Communication

Any business that has a significant proportion of Hispanics should look to translate all company communication, such as emails, memos and flyers. This will not only ensure that each and every employee is up-to-date with the content of this communication, but it will also make all employees feel included and valued.

Celebrating the Fourth Fastest-Growing Industry in the United States!

September 30 was International Translation Day – the day for translators and the translation industry as a whole to stand up and be celebrated! Translators are not always been seen as they work in the background of many industries. Yet it is thanks to them that many other industries prosper due to the ability to maximize their reach to different areas of the globe.

The history of International Translation Day

Originally a day to celebrate St Jerome, also known as the patron saint of translation. He was the man who translated the bible in to Latin. This was the beginning of the bible being translated into 636 languages, with the New Testament alone now available in 1442 languages.

Since 1953, St Jerome Day has been celebrated worldwide in order to raise awareness of the importance of translation. In 1991, the International Federation of Translation officially deemed the September 30 to be International Translation Day.

The translation industry in figures

International Translation Day calls for a look at the figures of the translation industry, which has continued to grow in times when other industries have suffered.

Reports from the Centre of Next Generation Localisation have named the translation and localization industry as the fourth fastest-growing industry in the Untied States. The industries using the widest variety of languages are software products, medical devices, automotive and pharmaceuticals.

According to the CNBC, the last seven years have seen a 24% increase in the number of operating translation companies, as well as a significant 50% jump in the number of people employed in the industry.

Technology has not replaced the need for translation

Despite speculation that technology and the advent free online translation tools could damage the translation industry, it is in fact technology that has seen the industry boom.

As the Internet has become ever present in life and in business over the past two decades, globalization has develop the increased need for translation worldwide.

Research results from the Common Sense Advisory, a translation industry think-tank, showed that “a full 63% of global brands recently reached more customers by increasing the number of languages on their websites”. Without translation agencies, this extended reach would not have been possible.

The translation industry – a facilitator of international reach and growth. That’s something to celebrate!

Translation tool privacy breach explained

A Word of Warning about Free Online Translation Tools

News broke at the beginning of the month that large amounts of documents that had been submitted to were visible to the general public.

Norwegian news agency NRK was the first to run the story, which detailed the exposure of sensitive information about Statoil, Norway’s state oil company. Contracts, workforce reduction plans and dismissal letters were publicly available to see online after the company had opted for a free online tool for their translation needs, in place of using a translation agency.

Slator, a translation industry news site, investigated further and reported similar findings for other companies and industries, including documents such as email exchanges, late payment notices, tax matters and termination letters.

Reaction from governments and institutions was quick and abrupt. The Oslo Stock exchange instantly blocked access to

Translation tool privacy breach explained offered a full and detailed explanation of how this privacy breach occurred, stating that the documents in question had been submitted via a system that ceased to be used two years ago.

Up until the end of 2015, used volunteers to translate documents submitted to the site. These documents were stored on the cloud so that all volunteers had access to them. This also meant that they were publicly available online. defended their system choice, stating that it had issued clear warnings on their homepage. The point was also made that the free service was not appropriate for business use involving sensitive data, and that a private, protected and payable enterprise service would be better suited.

An apology was offered, together with a strong warning to remove private data from documents that are submitted, including names, addresses and phone numbers.

Why translation agencies are a safer option

 When employing the services of a translation agency, you can rest assured that your data will be treated with the utmost privacy. Reputable agencies will have non-disclosure agreements that are signed as a matter of routine to ensure 100% confidentiality.

Using a free online translation tool may be an appealing way of saving money, but is it worth the risk? Exposing sensitive data and information could cost your business much more than money. You could lose your hard-earned reputation and client base.


How failing to proofread your website content will lose you money

In a world where internet buying has become common place, there is less and less face-to-face contact with sales people. Coercing potential customers into purchasing a product or service in-store just doesn’t arise as often.

Everything comes down to your website content. So what happens if that content is littered with typos, spellings or grammatical mistakes? It’s simple – you lose money.

People are becoming increasingly ruthless in selecting where to spend their money, so if you fail at the first hurdle by simply not having your website content professionally proofread, then you are likely to suffer financially.

Why is proofreading so important?

The inbound marketing agency, ImpactBND, answered this question nicely:

“If your content is plagued by poor grammar, it’s likely that people will think twice about the quality of your products or services.”

Your actual copy can be some of the best written around, but if it contains mistakes, its effect will be lost almost instantaneously.

When potential customers are looking for a new service or product provider, they are looking for a trustworthy, knowledgeable and credible company. This is very hard to show if a customer sees that the effort hasn’t been made to ensure the website is faultless.

There is a very talked-about case involving a British company called After correcting a typo on one of their tights category pages from ‘Tihgts’ to ‘Tights’, the company noticed a 80% increase in conversions. This is the proof that one simple error can lose your business a significant amount of money.

The importance of proofreading translations

The correct translation of your website is paramount if you want people to take your business seriously. The same applies for the proofreading of that translation. Content that has been badly translated or that contains spelling or grammar errors will very quickly fail to provide you with the extra revenue you had envisaged.

A translation agency should have a vigorous quality assurance process that involves employing a second qualified translator to proofread any translated text. Proofreading your own work is an almost impossible task, as your eye does not spot all the errors. A two-stage process means, as a client, you can be 100% sure that the translation delivered will be faultless and ready to upload onto your site.

Although having your website proofread will mean an initial outlay of money, it should be seen as an investment that will earn you higher profits in the long run.

Why your Translation Project Needs a Project Manager

What does a translation project look like without a project manager? Potentially a very bumpy, time consuming and frustrating experience for all involved. The job of a project manager is to make the road smoother, more efficient and stress-free. Scheduling, costs, troubleshooting, scope and creating a team are just some of the multi-faceted responsibilities of a project manager. Even if you do have the skill set, trying to fit this into a busy daily workload can prove impossible.

Here, we look at reasons why your translation project needs a project manager.

Central point of contact

Having a project manager will mean that the client has a central point of contact. Translation teams are much more than just translators. Depending on the project they can include an editor, proofreader and a typesetter. As a minimum, a translation project will ideally require two of these. Having to coordinate multiple people takes time and miscommunication can occur if it isn’t handled correctly.

Creating the best team

Project managers in translation agencies have a pool of translation professionals at their fingertips. Working with linguists worldwide, they will be able to select the exact match for a project in terms of language combinations and specializations.

Determining and managing budget

Setting a clear budget is essential, but as a translation project develops, costs may need to be adjusted. A project manager has the experience to do this in line with the scope of a project.


Along with budget and team management, scheduling is one of the most important tasks in successful projects as it means delays are less likely. If issues do occur, a project manager can work closely with the client and translation team to reschedule, or seek other sources.


With any project, there is potential for problems to occur, such as a member of the translation team becoming sick or the scope of the project changing. Having a specific person to manage these issues will mean a successful outcome.

Reports and reviews

For larger projects, a project manager can produce interim reports to communicate clearly to the client where the project is up to. As the project closes, a detailed review can highlight what was done well and what could be improved on in the future.

Increase in productivity

A well-oiled translation project will mean that productivity is increased. Having your materials translated into another language appeals greatly to customers that prefer to receive information in their mother-tongue. This instantly widens your reach, potential customer base and profits.

At Transpanish, all translation projects are fully managed by a project manager. At the outset, a dedicated project manager will be assigned who will oversee the full process. We firmly believe this provides the highest quality service for our valued customers and establishes positive client relationships.

Which industries are most in need of translation services?

Translation is becoming key in so many industries, it may be easier to answer the question of which industries are NOT in need of translation. With the global market expanding before our eyes, translation services are becoming more sought after by an ever-growing variety of industries.

Here, we will look at which industries are seen to most need translations services.

E-Commerce Industry

The e-commerce industry in the US grew by 15.6% in 2016, reaching a total of $394.86 billion. Any online business that wants to sell their products or services internationally should consider translation services. Anyone clicking onto a website who doesn’t speak the mother tongue of the country that business is based on will soon click away if they do not see those magic flags in the top right hand corner of the home page, signaling a translated website.

Finance and Legal Industries

As international trade booms, large financial transactions take place every day. Contracts, reports, correspondence all have to adhere to legal standards and trade and market laws, and the only way to accomplish this is to ensure accurate translation of these documents.

In addition, any company wanting to do business outside of the US needs to show willing to strengthen client relationships by employing specialized translators to facilitate communications and legal matters.

Medical Industry

Internationally and within countries such as the US where Spanish is the first language of a large proportion of the population, translation in the medical industry is paramount to safe practice, for patients and doctors alike. For more information see our articles:

A Guide to Translating Health Care Materials into Spanish – First Part

A Guide to Translating Health Care Materials into Spanish – Second Part

Travel and Tourism Industry

The travel and tourism industry is all about communication between people from different countries, who speak different languages. Be it booking websites, brochures, destination guides or even online reviews, the more material that is translated, the more successful the industry will be and the larger the gain for the country’s economy.

Human Resources Industry

No matter what the industry, any company that has a significant proportion of employees who speak another language should consider translation services essential. This is of particular importance in the US, where many companies have a growing presence of Spanish-speaking workers.

Translation of human resources documents protects both the company and the employees. In the event of an altercation being brought to court, a company who has translated employee manuals, safety documents, policies and procedures into Spanish will stand up much better in front of a judge.

And of course, the translation industry is also in need of translation! A translation services website that is translated into the language of its target audience will attract much more traffic and business.

Translating Health Care Documents to Spanish

A Guide to Translating Health Care Materials into Spanish – Second Part

In our last article, we discussed the benefits of translating health care materials into Spanish, and looked at some of the steps involved in the process. Once the decision has been made to translate the materials, the next step is to find a qualified translator. Here, we offer you a guide to recruiting qualified medical translators and to ensuring that the finished product is useable and fit for purpose.

Recruiting a qualified medical translator

Recruiting a qualified medical translator entails much more than finding someone who is bilingual. Although this is one of the necessary qualifications, a translator employed to translate health care materials must also possess considerable expertise and experience in the subject matter to be able to understand the source text.

A key decision is whether to employ a freelance medical translator or a translation agency. Although freelancers can be seen as a less expensive option, translation agencies offer a more comprehensive service, providing a whole team that will see a translation project through from start to finish. A project manager heads a team of translators and proofreaders, meaning that you save valuable time, which in effect saves you money.

Negotiating terms

After finding a qualified medical translator, terms need to be negotiated in regards to fees, completion dates and payment terms.

Spanish translators can charge in different ways, generally per word or per page. However, if the project is for a specific format, such as a pamphlet created in InDesign, translators may also quote a DTP fee. Where specialized knowledge and experienced is called for, higher costs should be expected.

Negotiations should be clear from the outset and should include that the translator will commit to staying with the project until completion. This should include proofreading and final revisions.

A further advantage of using a translation agency is that they usually offer discounts for large projects or for nonprofit organizations.

Development Phase

Throughout the development stage of a health care translation, close contact should be maintained between all parties, so that the translator can ask for clarification when needed. If the translation is a long-term project, possible reviews and updates should be specified in the quote.


The revision stage can either be carried out by the translation agency, which will use other qualified medical translators within its team to review the document, or it can be carried out by the client. However, if you were to undertake the review process yourself, it is paramount that the reviewer is a Spanish native speaker and ideally has extensive experience in both translation and the medical topic in hand. Grammatical construction and usage, spelling and use of expressions should all be taken in consideration.

Final proofreading

If the translator or translation agency is not in charge of the Desktop Publishing task, the translator should be available to do a final proofreading of the text once it has been integrated into its final design format.

Although producing and translating health care materials into Spanish can be an investment in terms of both time and money, it is becoming an essential process in a country like the US which has a large Hispanic population. The benefits of the investment far outweigh the risks to patient health and the careers of health care providers.

A Guide to Translating Health Care Materials into Spanish – First Part

Consider for a moment what it would be like if you broke your arm on holiday in Mexico. One minute you’re enjoying soaking up the sun in your resort, the next you slip on your way to the pool, and you’re on your way to hospital not understanding a word anyone says around you. From start to finish you don’t understand questions that are asked of you, never mind being able to answer them, and you realize that this communication barrier puts you at risk.

The situation is no better for the health care professionals at the hospital. As a doctor or nurse, treating patients you cannot communicate with is far from ideal. On the one hand, they are injured or sick and require treatment, but on the other hand medical treatment requires understanding and consent; proceeding without this is a risk to the patient and to the doctor´s reputation and career.

This exact situation is why producing and translating materials into different languages is an essential part of health care.

Why provide health care documents in Spanish?

Spanish is the second language of the US and 900,000 Hispanics live in North Carolina alone, which is nearly 10% of the state’s population. There is a considerable part of this population that has limited or even no English. Providing health care and medical documents in Spanish aids communication, but these translations need to be accurate and appropriate in order to achieve the following goals:

  • to ensure understanding of diagnosis, treatment and medication schedules, as well as any other educational or informative materials.
  • to eliminate the risk of patients unnecessarily attending services such as the emergency room. For example, a patient with sunstroke may just need rehydrating, but if the source of the problem cannot be communicated, the patient will end up taking up emergency resources.
  • patients will retain medical printed materials if the translation is of a high standard. Badly translated materials or materials in unknown languages are quickly discarded.
  • to protect medical professionals from legal proceedings as a result of miscommunication due to lack of professionally translated information.
  • to eliminate time being wasted trying to communicate in unknown languages.

Remember: Poorly translated medical and health care materials are as much of a risk as having no translated materials at all.  Only accurate, professional Spanish translations will help communication with Hispanic populations.

Recommended steps for health care translations

There are certain recommended steps that should be taken when planning health care translations.

Preliminary planning

Spend some time investigating whether the information you want to translate into Spanish already exists in your organization. If translated materials are already available, consider how you will evaluate them. The level of accuracy will need to be checked thoroughly as mistranslated information makes the purpose of a translation null and void. The reading level will need to be assessed to ensure it is of the correct level for the target audience, in certain situations a simplified text will be more appropriate.

Evaluating existing Spanish materials

When there is a sudden need for health care materials in Spanish, medical settings may use existing translations without evaluating them first. However, the evaluation step is crucial to ascertain if the material is accurate, appropriate and therefore usable.

This evaluation can be carried out by a Spanish speaker within your organization, or you will need to employ the services of a Spanish-speaking proofreader or editor who will be able to compare the content to the English version and check the quality and accuracy of the translation.

Other points that should be thoroughly checked include whether the text is culturally appropriate, whether it targets its audience in the appropriate way and finally whether it reflects your health care setting’s recommendations and provides up-to-date information.

Remember: Ordering pre-existing bilingual materials from a catalog or agency is no guarantee of quality and very few medical organizations have their own evaluation procedure.

How to present Spanish translated materials

Another important step when considering translating medical materials into Spanish is how they will be presented. There are various options to choose from:

  • having two separate versions: one in English, one in Spanish.
  • having one document with both languages. For one-page documents the English could be on one side and the Spanish on the other. For longer documents the translations could be separated into different sections, or the Spanish could be set in a block next to the English text.
  • including the Spanish under each line of English. However, this method tends to be used more for forms, as it looks untidy and can be hard to follow in extended pieces of texts.

In our next post, we will discuss how to recruit qualified translators, negotiate terms, the development phase and how to review and proofread translated materials.

How to translate a brochure to Spanish

Translating Brochures into Spanish: Best Practices

In the age of websites, questions are raised over whether translating brochures into Spanish, and indeed other languages, is still necessary.

Here, we explain why it is still an essential part of marketing and look at the best practices of this type of translation.

The need for brochure translation

However well-designed, effective and multilingual a company website is, the need for brochure translation as a marketing and sales tool remains.

Well-designed and well-written brochures give an impression of the wealth and success of a company, building client confidence. Without one, there is a time delay between referring a client to your website and the client actually looking. This allows for the risk factor of the client not taking the time to actually do so, or being attracted by the competition. Handing over a marketing material in paper form or emailing it directly into an inbox means potential clients have something concrete to refer to without trawling a website.

Paper form is particular beneficial for those who process better on paper, who need to feel something, be able to handle it, flick back and forth. Staring at a screen simply doesn’t allow information to be processed in the same way. This type of person will likely write on a paper brochure, underline, highlight and basically ‘think on paper’.

Spanish brochure translation

Spanish brochure translation is particularly beneficial, given the status of the language both in the US and worldwide. One of the six official languages of the US, 17.6% of the population declares Spanish as their first language. With over 472 million native speakers throughout 21 countries worldwide, Spanish is currently the second most spoken language in the world. Producing unilingual sales tools will limit reach dramatically.

What to consider when translating a brochure into Spanish

Factors to consider with Spanish brochure translation include:

  • Are you targeting a specific Spanish speaking audience or should neutral Spanish be used?
  • In order to obtain an accurate quote, most translation agencies request to review the document. Unless the brochure was created with MS Word, a PDF version rather than the source file is usually preferred.  If sending the entire file is not possible, a sizeable sample and the total word count will help the translation provider prepare the quote. Other information such as deadlines will also be necessary.
  • Decide who will be doing the desktop publishing. A brochure is usually created with a DTP program such as Adobe InDesign and if you want it with same format as the source document, you will need to pay for the agency to carry out the DTP task and the source file will be needed for the translator. Even if it is done with MS Word, the format can still be complex, so ensure to confirm with the translation agency if the format is included in the final price. The other alternative is to send the file in Word format and assign the DTP task to a qualified member within your team.
  • The translation should always be proofread. This can either be done by someone in your company, or the translation agency can assign a second translator do this. Also, consider asking the agency to review the final version once it is print-ready, if you are doing the DTP yourself.
  • Consideration needs to be given to the design. A translation from English into Spanish will have 15-30 percent more text, potentially creating the need for a different layout.  Features such as syllable separation, inverted exclamation and question marks, accents and the use of different characters such as ñ and ü all need to be considered.

Deciding to translate a brochure into Spanish means that you will be increasing the number of people reached, and in turn this will increase business for your company. Choosing the right translation agency and taking into consideration the above points will help you produce a professional Spanish brochure.