What is a translator?

The translator is a person who renders a text in one language (the source language) into a second language (the target language) in written form, as if originally produced in the target language.

The source text may be in the form of a printed document, electronic file, or perhaps even audio recordings. Translations, at the very least, should be done accurately and correctly. Ideally, they are done by an expert translator who will ensure that they are also effective.

Click here if you have materials that have already been translated. Wouldn’t you want to be sure they say what was intended, accurately and effectively?

Just a few examples of where translations may be needed:

  • Documents written in a foreign country that are required for immigration or other legal proceedings, including marriages, adoptions, etc. These translations would most likely need to be certified.
  • Employee handbooks or safety procedures for companies with a limited English proficient (LEP) workforce.
  • Leases or other legal documents to be negotiated or signed in another country.
  • Websites or other marketing tools for U.S. non-English speakers or for international markets.

While useful when working with clients or fellow coworkers, mastery of a second language at a conversational level (such as when learned at home), is not enough to produce a translation that fulfills the purpose of the translated text; this is especially true when that text is a legal or court document, safety procedures, hospital discharge instructions for care at home, or to promote your business overseas. Knowing both the source and target languages well is a good start, but knowing the subject matter well in the target language is essential.

What can you expect?

To ensure the resulting translation is suited to your needs, the following information will help your translator deliver the best product:

  • The type of document – employee handbook, labor contract, home study package for adoptions, benefits enrollment materials, birth certificate
  • The purpose and audience – court, insurance company, consumers in the U.S., consumers in Latin America, local workforce, patients
  • For larger or involved texts, it would be helpful to have the name and contact information of the person to consult with questions that might arise – the source language subject matter expert or the person who will be using the translated materials
  • To maintain consistency in the language style and terminology, access to prior translated work or any existing glossaries would be recommended
  • The format of the source text – electronic file (Word, PowerPoint, PDF), hard copy (fax, photocopy), audio tapes or electronic audio files
  • The format of the target text – electronic file (Word, PowerPoint, PDF), hard copy
  • The delivery date and delivery method
  • And any special considerations or things to keep in mind


An experienced translator will have worked on a great variety of projects and might have ideas to help make the process easier. Some suggestions you might consider:

  • Involve your translator early in the process, as soon as you know you might need a translator
  • Allot sufficient time for the translator to do a good job. Depending on the nature of the project, a rushed job may not be as good as one delivered within a reasonable timeframe.
  • Keep in mind, translators will have varied levels of expertise, tools and resources, and work at a different pace. A reliable translator will communicate any concerns up-front.
  • And although it might be tempting to use your bilingual staff to translate your documents or materials, if they are not schooled or experienced in the second language with good, solid knowledge of the subject matter, the resulting costs would far outweigh the cost of having a translation properly done by an expert translator. These costs could be in the form of legal ramifications, corporate image, worker safety, lost sales, etc.

The right translator will be your partner for communication and will strive to convey your message faithfully into the target language, as if written by you.

If you are looking for a qualified Spanish < > English translator (with 100%
native fluency in both languages) for an upcoming project, or if you have
any questions regarding the above, let’s discuss at your convenience.