This post was originally published on the dba Plan B blog. It is reposted with permission.
When you have a translation project ready to go, here are some of the questions you’ll likely be asked — certainly by me, but also by other translators. In most cases, translators need to see the documents before giving you a quote, but even with the documents, we need your input to provide a translation that meets your needs.
(1) What is the language of the source document and/or what country is it from?
(2) What kind of text is it (for example, personal correspondence, medical record, birth certificate, school transcript)?
(3) What format are the documents in (paper, scan, PDF or other electronic file) and how do you intend to send them (mail, fax, e-mail attachment)?
(4) What is the subject matter?
(5) How will the translation be used? Is it for a specific institution, application, or audience?
(6) What is the approximate volume of the material to be translated (number of words, lines, or total number of pages)?
(7) Is there any handwriting in the document? Latin alphabet or Cyrillic? Can you read it?
(8) Is the document fully legible (or a fax of a fax of a fax)? If it is difficult to decipher, do you have any preferences for handling illegible or partially illegible passages? (Normally these are indicated as “illegible” in brackets.)
(9) Are there any charts or graphics that must be reproduced in the translation? (There’s no need to describe the formatting of birth-marriage-death certificates or school transcripts.)
(10) When will the materials be available?
(11) When would you like to have the completed document(s) in hand?
(12) If these are official documents, do you require a certification of accuracy, notarized originals, or other special handling?
(13) Does the project involve ongoing or recurring assignments?