Why Do Translation Projects Take Such a Long Time?

If you aren’t familiar with the translation industry, you might wonder why it takes longer than a day or two to translate a 200 page book.  There are several steps to translation, and none of these steps are instantaneous. Translation is not as simple as feeding a document into a computer. Here are some of the steps in the translation process, and why each takes time.


Translation is an intense skill that requires a great deal of concentration. The average translator translates about 2000 words a day, or around 250 words an hour. This is why it is difficult to turn out 50,000 word projects in just a few days. Some of the most talented translators in the world can turn out around 5,000 words per day, but even at this rate this 50,000 word document would not be completed in a day or two.

Translation agencies can and do assign multiple translators to a single project at one time to increase the rate of completion. This introduces potential issues such as word consistency across the document, but this can be amended in the following step.


Whereas there can be multiple translators assigned to a project, it is more difficult to assign multiple editors to a project. Editors are linguists who make sure the original translation is error free. The average linguist edits around 8,000 words per day. Since editors want to maintain consistency, assigning multiple editors is not ideal, as these editors might favor different terminology, rendering the translation inconsistent.

Quality Control

This step verifies formatting of the document to ensure the new translation matches the original document. Depending on the length and complexity of the document, this step can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks. Quality Control includes the final content check to make sure the entire document has been fully translated, so it is vital in ensuring a complete document.

These steps are for a simple project with no graphics. Any sort of layout or graphics work requires additional time and resources. Steps can be eliminated from the process for quicker deliveries, but to ensure a complete and accurate document, all of these steps must be taken.

Do you have Translation or Interpretation needs? Find out more about DLS' Translation and Interpretation department HERE.