Rush/Expedited Translations

American Language Services has been working with companies, institutions educational and non-profits for almost 4 decades.  We know that emergencies can come up when you least expect it.  Sometimes you just don’t get enough notice and that’s the way business works.  The real question is how do you deal with it?  Does it cause you a great deal of stress, and loss of sleep, or do you have a translation partner that you can always count on.  One of the things that being in business for so long has taught us is that situations often arise where an announcement, litigation evidence, or notice cannot wait until next week—sometimes it cannot even wait until tomorrow. In these scenarios, you must find a partner with continuous up time and availability. As one of the most successful translation agencies in the world, we are 24 hours /7 days, have the staff and proven processes that make meeting almost any deadline possible.

How Things Like COVID-19 Illustrate the Importance of a Good Translation Partner

The pandemic led to a surge of urgent and last-minute requests. Shortly after it started, hundreds of companies flooded our inbox looking for somebody to help them globalize their emails, sickness policies, and press releases. Many of them relied on other agencies in the past and found they couldn’t meet their deadlines in the face of a real crisis.  COVID-19 served to highlight the fact that freelancers and budget options cannot always meet the needs of large and small businesses. You need a partner that has systems and procedures in place to handle rush jobs and emergencies.  More importantly, you need one with 24/7 availability and a quality guarantee, even when it comes to rush work.

Just be aware that most agencies will mark last minute jobs as “rush” and raise their rates to compensate.

What Makes a Translation a “Rush” or Expedited job?

Because they lack familiarity with the process, many clients underestimate how long translation takes. They don’t understand the intricacies involved in a true cultural adaption. The rise of machine translation (MT) and the pandemic only exacerbate the problem. Because of these preconceptions, many businesses come to us with unrealistic deadlines.

To stop yourself from falling into that trap, you need to understand the criteria used to separate rush job from a standard delivery.  First, the person quoting the job looks closely at client deadlines. Because it means arranging schedules to match timelines, same day or anything less than 24 hours is typically deemed rush job.  The second criterion used is content length. For reference, an average translator can complete about 2,000 to 2,500 words in an 8-hour workday.  Any job that requires more than this capacity is considered a rush.

So, if you want to avoid rush charges, give your translator at least 48 hours’ notice for a job of fewer than 2,000 words, and however many days it’ll take at 2,000 words a day to complete a longer job. That means, if your job is over 50,000 words, you will need to give one translator around 25 business days to get everything done. There are, however, some good ways to speed things up. 

What Methods Do Translators Use to Meet Tight Deadlines?

To meet accelerated turnaround times, translators often rely on the following methods:

  • Adding More Linguists: Remember those old arithmetic problems in school that asked something like: “If Sally could paint a house in four hours and Jim can do it in five hours, how long will it take them to paint four houses together?”  In every case, the answer is less than if one person did it alone. That is why rush jobs are often split between multiple translators and editors. This allows them to greatly accelerate the translation output capacity for greater than 2,000 words per day.  For example, if you needed to translate 100 pages quickly, which around 25,000 words, you could get this completed in 3 days by utilizing four or five translators/editors.  There are, however, certain limitations one must consider.  The old adage, “when there are too many cooks in the kitchen”, does apply. Another words, at some point you cannot keep simply keep adding linguists & editors without the output becoming inconsistent or less than perfect.  
  • Machine-Assisted Translation:  Long gone are the days where every single word has to be translated by hand. Agencies now have access to machine translation tools that provide suggestions and can be used to ensure a consistent product. Now, unlike text that’s translated via Google Translate, these tools are used in conjunction with a skilled translator. Because they simplify the process and can quickly ensure text aligns with a client’s translation preferences, MT tools can help speed up timelines.
  • Multi-Layered Editing: When you use the two methods above, you must have multiple editors reviewing the final piece. Otherwise, it will read like a disjointed mask. In rushed jobs, the editor often takes a more active role in ensuring consistency and quality. Smaller companies rarely have the editing staff to support this at a larger scale.

Things You Can Do to Ensure You Meet Your Deadline

A lot of what makes translation take so long could be mitigated before the job ever reaches a translator’s queue. To help speed up the process, you should:

  • Give Advanced Notice: Even if the document isn’t finalized, you should reach out to your translator and let them know that a rush project is on the way. This will make it easier for them to adjust their schedules to accommodate the request. Whether it’s a 24 hours’ notice or 12 hours’ notice, it’ll help make things easier.
  • Create a Glossary:  Many rushed translations end up reading as if they’re written by a lot of different people. This is because they usually are. While an editor can catch most of these issues, there’s a chance that some fall through the cracks. To help keep things in the same style, you should create a glossary of key terms and definitions beforehand. This allows your provider to quickly swap out those terms and ensures consistency where you need it the most.
  • Prepare Your Graphics: It can be difficult to translate text that’s inside an image. Make sure that you use text frames to place captions instead of embedding them into multiple image files. This makes the translator’s job easier and faster.
  • Pick a Proven Translation Partner: While you might think you will save a few dollars going with a different freelancer per language or document type, this often results in variable quality and increases the likelihood of inconsistencies. Furthermore, if you’re constantly having to have people quote the job, you’re wasting time introducing multiple providers to your products and services. By having a single go-to partner, you make translation a much more seamless process.
  • Finalize Your Translation First: There are plenty of times where a client edits a source document after they send it to us. This gums up the process and often forces us to start over from square one. Otherwise, we risk publishing the wrong version of the document. So, make sure that there are no pending approvals before you hit the “Submit” button on your order.
  • Be Available for Queries: If you need your project tomorrow, you will need to be as available as our translators are if there are questions or anything needs to be clarified.  Otherwise, you may end up eating up what little time we have. If you will be out of the office, provide a secondary contact or personal number for your agency partner. This will make getting our questions answered easier and help speed up the process.

About American Language Services

Since our founding in 1985, we have gone from a one-woman agency to a multinational shop with hundreds of employees. We are one of the largest, most successful language service providers, not just in the U.S., but worldwide. Our expert translators provide a full range of language services in over 200 languages. Most importantly, we’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This availability gives us the ability to pivot and meet almost any deadline.

AML-Global has some of the most impressive linguistic talents in the world. These highly skilled language professionals are recruited, screened, and tested to ensure high-quality work.

Through sheer diligence, AML-Global has earned an outstanding reputation for providing cost-effective, high quality, and seamless language services.

Contact us by email at  or via phone at 1-800-951-5020 for a free estimate on your rushed translation.


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