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Rates for Proofreading versus Translating
Thread poster: Germaine A Hoston

Germaine A Hoston  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:21
Member (2003)
French to English
+ ...
Aug 3, 2001

I am interested in a proofreading job, but don\'t know how to proced with respect to pricing my services for proofreading as opposed to services for translation. It seems that good proofreading is almost translation itself and thus should not be too heavily discounted, but does anyone have a simple formula to apply (e.g., charging 80% of one\'s translation rates for proofreading) on this? I would be grateful for any advice. Thanks in advance!





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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 10:21
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
Aug 6, 2001

Interesting question, indeed.



I hardly ever accept proofreading/editing assignments at a fixed rate per source word, as you never know who made the translation.



Most of my clients accept a fixed rate per hour and understand my reasons for not accepting editing work from unknown translators at a set rate per source or target word.

Unless you have seen the translations/documents to be proofread/edited beforehand, you could be in for some very unpleasant surprises.



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xxxAA1
German to English
Aug 6, 2001

This is a tough nut to crack.



Depending on your location (or your client\'s location), the rate for proofreading could be as much as US$0.05 per word. I found that many agencies prefer to go with a proofreading rate based on the word count because, that way, they also feel more secure that you are not cheating them (claiming 3 or 4 hours for a proofreading job that really took only 1 hour, for example).



However, there are many factors that come into play - a really lousy translation, etc. In some cases, it may be wiser to translate the whole text from scratch. These are all things that you need to discuss with your client (agency).



Unfortunately, there is no ready-made answer to this problem. Therefore, and after way too many really bad translations I had to proofread, I decided about a year ago not to accept proofreading or editing jobs anymore - it is just too much of a hassle (negotiating a price, dealing with bad translations, wasting time that would be better spent on actual translation jobs, etc.).


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:21
English to German
+ ...
Sep 8, 2001

Hi - sorry for the somewhat delayed response, but I only discovered the forum area today...



I do seem to get more frequent inquiries regarding proof-reading. So far I have strictly refused to use translation-based charging methods (such as per-line charges); IOW either the client accepts a time-based charged, or there is no job (I fully realise that, due to a certain degree of specialisation I can afford this approach where others might not be able to).



What has helped so far in \"selling\" the service was to point out that the effort of turning round a mediocre or bad translation is almost identical to doing the translation from scratch...



HTH - Ralf


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Kyra  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:21
French to English
+ ...
Proofreading rates Oct 7, 2001

I charge $25, or 25 Euro/hour for proofreading. Does anyone have any opinions about if this is a low/high rate?

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Kyra  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:21
French to English
+ ...
Repeated text Oct 7, 2001

I recently did a medical translation from German to English for a company in Belgium. They pay 60c per 62 characters.



About 10 pages of the text was repeated in another zip file they sent me, and I want to know some methods people use for dealing with repeated text. I have heard some people still charge at the basic rate per word/line, and others say go to an hourly rate, and others say lower the rate per word.



The translation was very time-consuming, and as their rates are low anyway, I would resent going lower. Can anyone give me input on if it is unethical to simply charge per word for the entire translation, repetitions and all?


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 03:21
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Set the charge to reflect real time spent Oct 12, 2001

Ingrid, my opinion is that you should set the charge to reflect the time you actually spend (even if you are charging by word, line, page, etc.). If you receive a text to translate that has repetitions, you could count the repeated text and deduct it from your fee. But you have to charge the time it takes you to do so. If the repeated text is in big blocks, you might end up lowering the fee. But if it is scattered in little bits all over the text, the time you spend counting and calculating it could actually be more than the charge for the full word count. To charge the full word count in such a case would be perfectly ethical, it even might save the client some money, and saves you some boredom. If they want a discount for repetitions, explain that they have to pay you to count the repeated blocks so that you can deduct them. Plus you also have to factor in the time it takes you cut and paste the repeated blocks. If you have a program (like a CAT tool) that can count repetitions and do global replacements of already-translated text, it will save you time, and in that case you would end up charging less. Your time has a value, and you should charge for it whether it is spent manipulating a CAT tool, translating, counting words, or cutting and pasting text.





Quote:


About 10 pages of the text was repeated in another zip file they sent me, and I want to know some methods people use for dealing with repeated text. I have heard some people still charge at the basic rate per word/line, and others say go to an hourly rate, and others say lower the rate per word.



The translation was very time-consuming, and as their rates are low anyway, I would resent going lower. Can anyone give me input on if it is unethical to simply charge per word for the entire translation, repetitions and all?



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Dave Simons
Local time: 10:21
French to English
Rate per word too risky Feb 28, 2002

For a start, let\'s re-establish the correct meaning of the word \"proofreading\": a proofreader looks for typesetting mistakes prior to the final printing of a document. Any other corrections have been carried out long before this. If you\'re doing real proofreading, you can safely quote a price per word and it will be pretty low since you\'ll be working not far short of reading speed.



What most of us do, however, is not proofreading but copy-editing, which is a different kettle of fish and includes making corrections to word choice and style, rearranging paragraphs, correcting spelling, and in the case of a translator, correcting false meanings. You can\'t put a price per word on this. Imagine a client putting a translation through Systran then sending it for copy-editing because it\'s cheaper per word than getting it translated - do you see what I mean?



I only once accepted a copy editing job on a wordcount basis. It was a translation by a non-native speaker, and though it could have been a lot worse, the job still wasn\'t very profitable. I vowed that would be the last time. Someone suggested an hourly rate of $25 dollars which ought cheap enough to get plenty of jobs from serious clients. Anyone (from the Western world) who wants to pay less is not serious about getting the job done properly.



What you might find also is that some clients might want to put a cap on the number of hours they\'re actually willing to pay for. That\'s OK, they have a budget to work to after all; but make sure if you accept this that they understand that once the time\'s up, you stop. No questions asked.



HTH



Dave



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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:21
French to English
Hourly rate Mar 1, 2002

Charge an hourly rate for editing/proofreading jobs. With a per-word rate, you might get the short end of the stick.



Erika



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Alex Eames
Local time: 09:21
English to Polish
+ ...
UK language usage note Dec 5, 2004

Although, strictly speaking, proofreading is the final check of a document for typos etc., the term is widely used by UK translation agencies to mean comparing source and target language documents to check for good quality translation.

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xxxdf49f
France
Local time: 10:21
copy editing Dec 5, 2004

Alex & Malgorzata Eames wrote:

Although, strictly speaking, proofreading is the final check of a document for typos etc., the term is widely used by UK translation agencies to mean comparing source and target language documents to check for good quality translation.



Agree that copy-editing is generally what clients want from us, not just proofreading for typos etc (which I do free of charge for my own translations).
I personnely give an "estimate" to my clients based on the number of words, BUT the estimate specifies that I charge and will bill anywhere between 50% and 100% of my translation rate (minimum 16 eurocent and more frequently 18-20 depending on subject) depending on how much the original text needs to be reworked. Once I have started to work on the document and seen what it involves, I contact them to let them know that it will be 50-75-100% or whatever.
df


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nidiapecol
Local time: 04:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks to all!!! Nov 29, 2005

I really want to thank you all for the discussions and opinions, you have been quite helpful and insightful.

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Jamie76  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:21
French to English
Go with the hourly rate when proofing, if at all possible. Apr 23, 2009

I've found that it's best to go with an hourly rate. I time how long it takes for me to do a job with something like http://xpunch.com and bill accordingly. If the client is uncomfortable with this, I insist on seeing the source text and the translation before proofreading.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:21
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
1/3 the translation rate Apr 23, 2009

Germaine A Hoston wrote:
...but does anyone have a simple formula to apply (e.g., charging 80% of one\'s translation rates for proofreading) on this?


It is remarkable how most respondents tell you what their rates are but do not answer your basic question.

I agree with those telling you that an hourly rate is better, but not all clients want to pay per hour, and some of those who eventually budge simply take a word rate and convert it to a "maximum" or "ideal" hourly rate by some formula you may have little or no control over. So, if you want to charge proofreading (or reviewing) per word, go for 1/3 your translation rate.

If you're paranoid, you can tell the client that after you've done half of the job (or 10% of it, for large jobs) you'll reassess your rate based on the speed of your work, and if you foresee big problems, you'll have to renegotiate the rate.

I usually accept a per-word reviewing rate if I know who the translator was and I have worked with his texts before.

[Edited at 2009-04-23 23:22 GMT]


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Tal Anja Cohen  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:21
Member (2008)
French to German
+ ...
Do not EVER accept a proofreading or editing job at a set rate... Apr 23, 2009

...without having taken a look at the text to get a feel for the quality. Make sure you and your client are talking about the same thing (proofreading, editing, revising...?).
Just my two cents.


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