There are a lot of people out there who say they’re translators. But how can you know if they’re any good? Here’s a guide that can help.

Start with the basics

The translator must speak a second language

This may sound obvious, but it’s not. Some people fashion themselves as translators but have a poor grasp of the language they’re translating from. Sure they can look things up in dictionaries, but so can non-translators. It’s no substitute for fluency.

The translator must translate into their native language

Break this rule at your peril. Some people are utterly, totally bilingual and bicultural and have no dominant language, but they are few and far between. Always seek out a native speaker.

The translator must be trained in translation

Here again, break this rule at your peril. Translation is a professional field of study. There are important things to know about research and how to avoid traps. Being bilingual is not enough.

By following these first 3 rules, you should end up with a usable translation. But how good will it be?

Look for these secrets to success

The translator is a subject-matter expert

Imagine writing a text on a subject you know nothing about or don’t understand. Not easy! If you’re translating about a bank’s financial results, you need to know about banking. If you’re doing pharmaceutical work, you need to know about life sciences. If you’re translating a blog, you need to be good at connecting with the public.

The translator is an avid reader

Translators who read a lot in their native language produce better work. Try asking the translator what they read for fun. The best ones read the quality press and tons of nonfiction (preferably in your field of specialty).

The translator is revised

No one gets good working on their own. Look for a translator who gets feedback on every job they do—especially from colleagues. If you’re working with a freelancer, ask them if someone edits their work before they send it to you. If you’re working with a translation company, ask about their quality control process and how they provide ongoing training.

Make it easier for the translator

As a client, you can make things faster, simpler, and more cost-efficient.

Write clearly

Of course you know this, but let’s say it anyway: the clearer you write, the easier it will be to understand and translate your text. The translator will thank you, and so will the reader.

Provide context

Tell the translator who your audience is. Provide reference materials and visuals. Supply any vocabulary you already use. The final text will be more consistent, more accurate, and more enjoyable to read.

Check with the translator before making changes

It happens so often—someone needs to make a tiny, last-minute change to the translated document and does it themselves instead of checking with the translator. Our friendly advice: don’t do that.

Use a professional translation company

In most corporate contexts it’s best to work with a professional translation company like TRSB, Canada’s translation leader.

The right translator on each job

No single freelancer can be a subject-matter expert on every text. At TRSB, we have separate divisions dedicated to individual areas of expertise like telecommunications, legal, finance, and marketing, so you can be sure you’ll get the right translator for the job.

High volumes, multiple languages

Most people ask for French, but TRSB has an extensive network of professional translators in over 100 languages. TRSB also has specialized teams of proofreaders, copywriters, and copyeditors.


Online translation tools can pose a risk. TRSB’S ISO-certified processes are designed for top security at each step in the translation process.

Technical expertise

At TRSB, we make smart use of artificial intelligence and advanced translation tools to ensure speed, consistency, and quality. We also work with all major file formats and can provide dedicated client portals and tools developed by our IT specialists.

A track record of performance

With nearly 40 years in the business, TRSB can advise you on a whole range of issues, including gender-free language, website accessibility, and language law compliance.

For a complete, professional translation solution designed to keep costs under control while optimizing quality, look to TRSB.