Providing agencies with sample translations
Thread poster: maryrose

maryrose  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:43
+ ...
Aug 22, 2006

Hi everyone

I have been asked to provide sample translations by an agency. I haven't got around to doing it because it seemed like a bit of a faff but something I just read has made me ask the following question:

When agencies ask for samples, do they actually mean a copy of the source document and translation (this was my assumption and I was imagining having to blank out various bits), or a list of some of the work you have done?

How do people in the community respond to such a request?




Angel Biojo
United States
Local time: 23:13
English to Spanish
Samples Aug 22, 2006

Hi Maryrose,

What I normally do is send them both: source and target texts.



Patricia Colombera
Local time: 03:13
English to Spanish
+ ...
I agree with Angel. Aug 22, 2006

Hey Maryrose,
By translation sample, I understand original text and translated text.



Fan Gao
Local time: 16:13
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I don't really see the point.... Aug 22, 2006

You can download samples (both source and target) in most major languages these days from the internet so how could they even be sure it's your work you're sending.

Call me cynical but I reckon they just collect samples so that they can then pass it off as their own, add them to their portfolio and then send them off to potential clients to show how good they are:)

I think if an agency is really serious about taking you on as a new translator then they either send you a short test or better yet just start you off on a small paid project.

Best wishes,


Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
Agree with Chinese Concept Aug 22, 2006

And some agencies also ask for your previous work (happened with me) so that they can actually contact the original outsourcer. And it's not ethical at all.

One should contact the original Agency who sent you a particular job and ask for their permission and most of the times they refuse. (Obvious reasons)

Actually if you send the original documents as it is you can find the name of the person who created those documents...

I always insist on doing test translations rather than sending samples. If they are serious it should normally be ok.

well... just my point of view...


Claire Titchmarsh  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:13
Italian to English
+ ...
Send short excerpts in anonymous form Aug 22, 2006

Like the previous poster, I'm always a bit sceptical about "extra" requests from agencies and tend not to bother with complicated enrolment procedures etc. But one agency asked me for sample legal and financial translations with a view to an ongoing collaboration, and they are now one of my best clients. Obviously the samples would have to be completely anonymous, i.e. with all the names in the contract or pleading taken out. It takes a bit of time as you have to blank out the names in both the Italian and English versions, but it's still quicker than doing a translation test!!

As for wanting to get translations for free ... I think translation tests are far more susceptible to that kind of abuse ... what are they going to do with a translation of three clauses in a contract that you've chosen ??


Robert Zawadzki  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:13
English to Polish
+ ...
Public domain text I translated Aug 22, 2006

I have translated a lot of European Union texts. They are now available (both source and target) on EU site. Therefore I usually send links to these as examples of my work, sometimes attaching my versions, to show that a reviewer did not change it too much.

There is also a Web page that I translated into English (and wrote parts of it).

If I am not too busy I do short samples just for fun (after all these years I still love translating)

[Edited at 2006-08-22 06:43]


Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:13
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
A sample is the actual text you translated Aug 22, 2006

maryrose wrote:
When agencies ask for samples, do they actually mean a copy of the source document and translation... or a list of some of the work you have done?

They want to have a source text and a target text, of which the source text is either something general or something similar that which you might be translating for the client, and the target text is a translation which you did yourself to the standard that the client could expect from you.

Personally I think having a two-column PDF with source text left and target text right is a good idea, but I haven't seen any samples from other translators.

Go to the Wikipedia, grab an article or two from it (say, 300 words each), and translate it. Make sure the client can see which is the source and which is the target text.

[Edited at 2006-08-22 08:07]


Tina Vonhof
Local time: 00:13
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Use you proz profile Aug 22, 2006

My suggestion would be to put a few brief samples in your proz profile and refer them to that.


Susanne Schnitzler  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:13
English to German
An other possibility Aug 23, 2006

could be a translation of brief articles on

Membership is free and with a bit of luck you can even make a cent or two (not really, but that is the concept behind shvoongicon_smile.gif).



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