What makes a good translation?

There are a few important things to keep in mind when translating a text from one language to another. Some of the most important ones are:

Before accepting the job

  • Read or skim the text before you accept the job. Make sure the assignment is something you’re confident you can do well. Please note that a translation can be rejected if an assignment has been translated poorly. There may be large passages that are far outside of your area of expertise.

After accepting the job

  • It is critical that you do some research about the subject matter you’re working with, or the client you’re translating for. Head to the client’s website if it’s mentioned in the text. Use Google and Wikipedia to your advantage.

  • Sentence structure. Don’t mindlessly translate every word in a sentence into your target language. Think about readability, nuance and what you’re trying to communicate. A sentence can be grammatically correct and still feel “off”. Consider the kind of style the average publication in your target language uses (e.g. newspapers, magazines, contemporary literature).

  • Related to the previous point, keep in mind what the target audience for your text is. A press released aimed at a general audience doesn’t need to be as formal as a business proposal. Marketing texts are often playful. Don’t translate idiomatic phrases and puns literally. Finding a creative, fitting solution to these problems is part of any good translator’s toolkit.

  • Be consistent with your language. For example, don’t mix and match American and British conventions when translating a text into English. The same goes for any other language that has many different varieties.

  • Ask questions. If the subject matter is particularly challenging, don’t hesitate to ask experienced peers about what terminology to use. There are plenty of resources online that can point you to useful reference materials, specialized dictionaries, and more.


We use ten-point scale (1 to 10) for assessing a translation
8-10: The translation had only a few minor issues (if any).
6-8: The translation is ready to be sent to the client after some revision.
3-5: The translation contains far too many errors to correct in a reasonable amount of time.
1-3: The translation is so bad that it’s completely unusable.


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