If everything worked the way that you need to address a translation company – have these questions ever came into your mind: how do I know that this version of the translation is a great translation? How do I know that I can trust this translation?

If the answer is yes, if you have ever experienced this hesitation  – trust us – we know what you feel. That’s why we have created a checklist of points that add to a great translation.

So, let’s firstly focus on What Makes a Translator Good One?

Formal qualifications

Translators who hold a Diploma in Translation issued by the Institute of Linguists or a Translation Degree or Languages Degree with substantial translation components from a reputable establishment are likely to produce better results than those who do not.

Translation Experience

There really is no substitute for years of experience.

Each translation agency will have its own policy on translators’ experience and should be happy to explain it to you.  Great translation companies on average demand at least 3-year experience in the field, while the premium translators are expected to have at least 5 years relevant commercial experience (most have many more than this) as less than this does not guarantee the highest quality.

Translator references

Although past performance is not an absolute guarantee of future performance it’s one of the best indicators around. Seek references and check them out. Don’t simply take the translator’s word for it that they are genuine. Alas, not everybody in the translation world is honest.

Mother tongue translators

With very few exceptions, translators produce better work when translating into their mother tongue. By simply insisting on your translation company using a mother tongue translator you can drastically increase the chances of receiving a great translation. There is no substitute for using experienced experts working into their mother tongue.

In-country translators

In some circumstances, it’s very important to use a translator who lives and works in the country which you are targeting so they are up to speed with all the latest colloquialisms and ‘in phrases’.

Using an in-country translator is particularly important if you are translating marketing and advertising text as literal translations of marketing material often does not travel well.

Test translations

To further ensure that your chosen translator really has the skills you need, we suggest you set them a short test translation. Simply by asking candidates to take an exam, you’ll frighten off many of the obvious charlatans.

Involve proofreader

When you are in doubt about the quality of a translation, what you could do is ask a proofreader/editor to take a look at the translation. This so-called proofer will be able to tell you the quality level straight away (assuming this is a professional and a native speaker of the target language.

Proofreaders usually check the text for typos, punctuation and some grammatical errors, or omissions. They don’t necessarily know that much about the terms, and the overall accuracy of the translation.

When you want to trust your content into the hand of a professional and  you are about to choose a translation agency, there are several criteria that are important to take into consideration.

How to choose the right translation company?

Industry Specialization

Before agreeing to use a translation agency, it will be imperative to make sure the company you choose has experience of working in your business sector. This will be especially true if you work in a fair niche or specialized industry. Checking that a translation firm has industry experience and can provide translators who are familiar with regulatory requirements and technical language that is peculiar to your business sector will help avoid confusion.

Check that the translation company you use offers translators with sector-specific experience. If you need a technical document translated fast, you’ll need an agency that has a translator with knowledge of your industry on its books. Selecting a firm that has a large and diverse pool of linguists available will make this more likely.

Using a company that makes intelligent use of technology and human input will also be important. While machine translation certainly has its place, look for an agency that takes advantage of both its software and human resources.


Choose a translation firm that offers you a single point of contact who will be on hand to discuss your translation’s requirements throughout the translation process, be this by phone or email. Avoid companies that simply want to take your raw content and provide a translated version without ongoing discussion. The translation of your content should be a fluid, collaborative process from start to finish.

You should also look for a firm that has the scope to adapt to your deadlines, offer a fast turnaround and manage several different projects at the same time, especially if you have content that needs to be translated on a regular basis. Although size isn’t everything, translation firms that operate at scale will typically have the staff and resources required to adapt to their clients’ needs more efficiently than smaller companies.


Being able to speak a language is no guarantee that an individual will make a good translator. This is why you should retain a firm that only uses qualified mother-tongue linguists with knowledge of your target dialect. Making sure that your translation agency only uses proven and fully-referenced linguists who have a track record of never failing to meet deadlines will also be vital.


Employing great linguists will be one thing, but if you want to make sure you’re guaranteed a great translation every time, you’ll need to use an agency that has robust quality control procedures in place.

Using a company that makes intelligent use of technology and human input will also be important. While machine translation certainly has its place, look for an agency that takes advantage of both its software and human resources.

This article is originally posted on our global translation blog Agato Legal Translation blog, we try to share with our audience in New Zealand every piece of knowledge that we believe it’s useful and informative. Happy reading!