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Conversion Cost Factors


MS Office
CAT: Trados Studio, MemoQ, Idiom, Star Transit
OS: Windows, MacOS

Business Hours

Monday to Friday
9:00 to 12:00 a.m. and 1:00 to 5:30 p.m. Indochina time (2:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. UTC)


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The cost of our document services is based on estimates of the workload rather than fixed per-page prices. This means that you will know the total conversion price only after asking for a quote, but allows us to stay competitive for very simple and highly complex documents alike. The following explanation of the factors that influence the workload is intended to help you determine whether a conversion makes sense.

Documents are inexpensive to convert, if...

  • they consist mainly of continuous text with a limited number of different font styles, headlines, etc.
  • the text is either directly copyable or scanned in high resolution (the higher, the better)
  • the language is Chinese, English or another common European language (if the text is copyable, the language is of less significance)

Documents are more expensive to convert, if…

  • they contain complex tables
  • the text is not continuous, but arranged in a complex layout
  • they contain images or diagrams with annotations that need to be replaced with text frames
  • they contain special characters such as Greek letters, mathematical symbols, etc.
  • they contain many different formatting attributes such as italics, bold, superscript, subscript, different colors, etc.
  • they contain many small images such as key icons inline with the text

In case of scans in particular, if...

  • the text volume per page is high
  • they contain hand-written text
  • the font size is extremely small
  • background images or shading make the text difficult to machine-read (OCR)
  • they are scanned in low resolution. In many cases, for lack of relevant language skills, we have to check the spelling of words that are not recognized by the OCR dictionary based on individual characters—this means that a low resolution can lead to a sharp increase in costs. When it is difficult even for a human to recognize individual characters, it is usually more efficient to translate directly from the PDF or image file since the translator often can infer illegible words from context.

Cost Influence of Desired Formatting Level

Depending on your project workflow, it may not be necessary to include all formatting attributes or elements of the document. The main consideration is whether the conversion is for purposes of publication (ie, the target language file will be published directly from MS Word) or for translation only. See the Workflow examples page for different possible workflows.

When the layout is complex, specifying the required elements can result in significantly lower costs. For example, if you need the conversion only to facilitate CAT use while the final typesetting will be performed by yourself or your end-client in a different application, full formatting may not be necessary. Instead, you could opt for positioned, identifiable text with essential formatting only or a simple two-column table containing the source text in one column.

The following are commonly requested types of conversion / text extraction:

For translation purposes:

  • Text extraction – only the text content of the file, not necessarily in the same position as in the original file. This option is chosen if cost is the predominant consideration or the layout is of little concern.
  • Text extraction into an Excel/Word table – the text content of the file in a two-column table. This option is sometimes chosen if the final typesetting will be done in a different application that is not suitable for CAT use. The translation is put into the right-hand column of the table, from where it is pasted into the target file by the typesetter. The cost is usually lower than for positioned text, but typesetting may take slightly longer because the identification of the target language text is less intuitive (in order to localize a certain sentence, the typesetter first has to spot that sentence in the bilingual table).
  • Positioned text with essential formatting – all text is placed in the correct position to facilitate identifying the corresponding target language text for typesetting in a different application. In this scenario, bold type would be considered essential because the typesetter would have to know which words to set bold in the target language. However, the background color of a paragraph or the exact look of a headline would be unimportant.

For publication:

  • Reconstruction with full formatting – a Word file that follows the original document’s appearance as closely as possible. This option is recommended if the document will be used as a Word file or printed directly from MS Word on paper or to PDF.