Keeping Translation Costs Down

by | Aug 15, 2017

One of the amazing lessons we can learn from William Shakespeare is the lesson of being concise.

Take for example, this line from one of his most popular plays, Romeo and Juliet. The play is a tragedy, about a young man and woman from two feuding families, who fall in love. Because of the feud, each is forbidden fruit for the other but, even so, they fall in love. In Act II Scene II of the play, Juliet questions what’s in a name, concluding that:

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Juliet doesn’t care that Romeo’s last name is Montague: she believes he would be the same person no matter what his last name was.

In fact, those ten little words convey so much. But what do they have to do with localization?

Concise and Compelling!

There are several steps that need to be taken whenever you’re taking your company or a product global. At the very root of a successful project, however, is making sure your source language is as concise and compelling as possible.

According to, copywriting is at the center of any effective online marketing campaign – and who can argue with that? Copywriters are able to synthesize the large and complex into the small and targeted, giving the audience an immediate understanding of what it is, what it does, and why it’s interesting for them. Often times, the copywriter can seduce the audience into making a purchase by delivering exactly what the consumer is wanting.

Concise and compelling content doesn’t just grab the interest of the potential customer, either. Let’s use this example from Shakespeare and compare it to what this famous line could have been if it hadn’t been written by someone as gifted as he:

AuthorPhraseWord count
William ShakespeareA rose by any other name would smell as sweet10
Wilma ShakenedI don’t care if his last name is Montague, I love him anyways13

Wilma Shakened’s word count may be only three words more compared to William Shakespeare’s, but those three words amount to a whopping 30% increase in the word count. Imagine what this difference would mean in a real world localization project of 1,000,000 words to be delivered in 25 languages. William Shakespeare’s project would come in at 25,000,000 words, whereas Wilma Shakened’s project would have a whopping 32,500,000 word count.

Money and Time

In the world of translation, where words cost money, that extra 30% contributes to turn-around too. No matter how you cut it, 30% more words isn’t just going to cost more money, it’s also going to take more time – and that can be critical in meeting deadlines for a global rollout.

One of the best ways you can keep your costs down is to make sure your source language is a concise as possible right from the start. This may mean you’ll need some extra time to lock down your source language before your translators even come close to touching it, but by removing the extraneous and delivering concise copy, savings can be had in both money – and time.


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Reaching global markets means you need to get your translation management together. 

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