What Does Document Translation Service Involve?


When you know you need your documents translated to reach the appropriate audience in medical, legal, financial, and technological settings, you might be wondering, “What does document translation service involve exactly?” Whether you are having your first set of documents translated or are looking for a new translation service, it can benefit you to know how the process works beforehand.


Since Etcetera Language Group, Inc. has been in the international translation field for over two decades, we are well-versed in all the aspects and needs of document translation. We are a leading provider of translation services in Washington DC with over 1,000 translators and editors on staff. Etcetera Language Group, Inc. is a member of the American Translators Association as well as the National Capital Area Translators Association. We currently specialize in serving the USA and Europe, with translation capabilities in over 100 languages, including:

  • Estonian
  • Korean
  • Japanese
  • Serbian
  • Vietnamese
  • Spanish
  • German
  • And many more!

Now that you know a little about us let’s start with the basics of what document translation service involves.

What is document translation?

Document translation is when written communications are transformed from one language to another to be fully understood by the reader. Document translation can bridge gaps between various languages, but the translation must be accurate. For businesses, typically document translation services are used in international business transactions (like manufacturing or global sales), but document translations can also be necessary for companies that do local business only. No matter if you need a document translated to Japanese from Spanish or Spanish to Japanese, a reputable company like Etcetera Language Group, Inc. is a must-have to ensure all documents are clear, concise, and correct.

Since there is a cornucopia of languages used around the world, industries like government, healthcare, education, and even marketing and advertising need document translations services. Government, medical, and legal entities are generally required by law to provide documents like waivers, HIPPA policies, and contracts in different languages when requested. Marketing materials are another commonly translated item – after all, who doesn’t want more customers to understand their business in their native language?

Further, companies with satellite or international offices should have an emphasis on effective translation of internal documents like meeting notes, training handbooks, safety guides, and human resources documents to ensure that all employees have the most efficient access to the documents that help your business run smoothly.

Ideally, your document translation company will assist with short- or long-term projects, including urgent matters. Etcetera Language Group, Inc. consults with our clients for free to determine these goals and ensure all of your translation needs are met. After our consultation, here’s how to prepare for document translation:

How to prepare for document translation

Before you send your documents for translation, there are 6 steps to assist in proper document translation:

1. Target Languages

Let’s say you need a document translated into French, Spanish, Chinese, or Portuguese. Did you know that the translation will depend upon the specific market you need them for? For instance, there are 10 major Spanish dialects, all with varying terminology and occasionally grammar. If you’re targeting a specific Spanish-speaking area, that can change the strategy from that of universal Spanish documents.

2. Project Scope

Before you begin the translation of your project, analyzing the full project scope can save time in the long run. How much content needs to be translated? When does it need to be completed by? What type of documents – are they informal or formal?

You also should think of any special requirements like the delivery method, English terms, measurements, and even paper size.

3. Make Sure Documents are Finalized

Before you send out your documents for translation, it is in your best interest to make sure they are 100% correct. At its base, your documents should get your message across clearly. Removing redundancies can lower the word count and make the translation smother. Your standard document rules apply, too, spellcheck the document and provide an editable version.

4. Format Needed

Check with your translation service company on which file formats they support in sending and receipts. Before handing the documents off, consider compiling detailed instructions and summaries to the translation team to ensure everything meets your specifications.

5. Glossary

If you’re in an industry with technical terminology, creating a glossary when you have a large amount of content can help ensure the translation team can find the most appropriate translations. It may add time upfront, but this extra step can make sure the process is consistent.

6. Price and Consultations

In advance of needing your documents translated, ironing out the fine details and establishing a budget is next. Schedule your free consultation with us today to discuss pricing and time constraints.

What are the hardest languages to translate?

Translation can be difficult even for fluent speakers of both languages, but there are some languages that are more difficult than others. The top five most difficult languages to translate are:

1. Mandarin

Approximately 80,000 characters exist in Mandarin, which can prove to be one of the hardest translatable languages. Tones and pronunciation can change the meaning of Mandarin words, which plays into the difficulty of translating text. Mandarin also employees idioms, aphorisms, and homophones that aren’t comparable to English.

2. Japanese

Japanese also has thousands of characters that must be learned before translation. On top of that – the grammar and structure of sentences can be quite different.

3. Arabic

Arabic has a rather large vocabulary because there are synonyms of several words. Additionally, Arabic is written from right to left, unlike most other languages. It is spoken in several countries, meaning there are more dialects than typical. Another Arabic fun fact: vowels are never written!

4. Hebrew

Though Hebrew has fewer letters than English, it is difficult for English speakers to translate because the grammar and root system aren’t very similar to English.

5. Korean

Korean has a very different pronunciation from English and is very different from other languages because it is isolated. Objects, verbs, and subjects are placed differently.