Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash


As a client you may not understand how long translation may take to complete to a high standard. Here is a recent experience that highlights what translation companies have to consider when handling large complex projects. We hope that this will help clients to allow sufficient time and budget to making sure that their translation is fit for purpose.

Last week I was approached to translate a 144-page clinical trial report from Japanese to English. The document was a clinical trial report for a new TB therapy funded by a major health charity. On paper this was my ideal assignment.

 Just 5 years ago I would have been jumping for joy at such a large project. However, experience has taught me that big is not necessarily best.

From the length I should have quoted around €12K and it would have kept a team of translators busy for around 45 working days.

Here’s an outline of my rationale for why I decided to quote even higher to compensate for the additional non-translation management work required.


  • No translation tools such as a translation memory or CAT tool could be employed.
  • Difficult to read/decipher Japanese characters would have to be manually tracked down instead of cut and paste into a dictionary


  • Terminology management would require creation of a manual glossary.
  • Managing term consistency across all pages and between the team of linguists would be arduous and time consuming.
  • One linguist would have to be tasked with term management.


  • Different clinician handwriting content was hard to read.
  • Complex tables contained hand recorded data.


The final factor determining our decision to quote higher was the fact that the client was looking for pages to be delivered in batches of 20. There would be no chance finalize the  document as the client would have already looked at the pages as they were ready.

So what did we do?

We quoted for the expected hours required to manage terminology and coordinate a team of translators working on the same document.

So a dream job suddenly becomes the stuff of nightmares.