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Wordcount test translation
Thread poster: AnkeSR

AnkeSR  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:26
English to German
+ ...
Mar 31, 2005

a client asked me to do a test translation of 877 words. I consider that as quite a lot.
Usually test are around 300 words.
Do you have a word limit on tests???
Is there a "rule" for how many words a test translation should have?

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Agua  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
250-300 should be enough... Mar 31, 2005


Unless you are doing a test for different fields, 200 to 300 should be enough to assess your capacity... Almost a thousand words is a project, you could ask for payment.

Good luck,


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Amy Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:26
Italian to English
+ ...
150 Mar 31, 2005

150 is really my max. I just don't have the time to do any more than that.

150 is plenty for an agency to see what you're made of, in any case.

877 is way over the top, but it may depend on the agency in question/your existing relationship (if any) with them/possibility of future projects etc. Be sure to check the Blue Board to make sure they don't have a reputation for getting free translations out of people!

Good luck!

[Edited at 2005-03-31 14:16]

[Edited at 2005-03-31 14:21]

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Natalya Zelikova  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:26
Member (2003)
English to Russian
+ ...
Ask them to reduce the volume Mar 31, 2005

I was asked to do a test by a company, which was already my regular client, and proposed test size was about 1200 words.
I replied that I agree to do a test of max. 300 words, and they reduced it to 260.
They also apologized and said that they didn't know about any restrictions in test sizes.
So I did a small test and got this job.

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vixen  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:26
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
250-300 words max Mar 31, 2005

You could offer your client to take a test of up to 250 or 300 words for free and explain to them that your standard rate will apply to the remainder of the text. Chances are that the client will agree to the 'short' version. At least, that's my experience.

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Anthony Michils
Local time: 16:26
French to Dutch
+ ...
250 words maximum Mar 31, 2005

And then I still think it's robbery !

If you go to a baker shop for the first time, does he give you the opportunity to test his croissants by eating one or two for free, before you decide to buy a dozen of them ?

I don't think soooooooo...

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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:26
Standard procedure Mar 31, 2005

Tell them that standard procedure is 2-300 words, or you'll do half of it, but don't have time to do all of it.

Besides, I bet you don't have the time to work for free!

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shfranke  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:26
English to Arabic
+ ...
Offer to send a sample product & references, versus test translation Mar 31, 2005


Rather than become involved in a time-consuming "flailing exercise" with a test translation, you might instead offer to send a sample portfolio (releasable source document and your translation product) and/or references to that prospective customer. Most querying firms apreciate and accept that more-efficient and valid option.

A corollary consideration in the background of this scenario about your doing a "test translation" to establish your abilities is that if the requesting firm has someone available there and qualified to evaluate and assess your test translation, why is that firm not already using that translator for the project? That aspect suggests some interesting features in that firm's business model and production cycle.

Hope this helps.


Stephen H. Franke
(English Arabic,
Kurdish, and Farsi)
San Pedro, California (Los Angeles Harbor Area)

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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:26
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
150-300 words is normal for a test translation Mar 31, 2005

However, at times you get a test translation from a client that is more - quite a bit more than the normal amount. Most of the time, I politely explain that I do not mind doing a test translation but the max. is 300 words.

However, about a year or so ago I got quite a long one and did the test translation (did not even respond with the polite explanation of my max. number of words for test translations). I guess my reasoning at that time was: It is for a very technical piece, big document; they may need to see more to get the feel of what I can do. And there were multiple technical areas in it.

Glad I listened to my gut feeling to do the test. They are one of my best clients now - steady work, prompt payers. Sometimes you have to go with your gut feeling. If it feels good, go for it but be sure to check out the Blue Board first.

Also take into account if you have the time to do the test translation. I often have to say 'no' because I am swamped with other work.

Well, just my 2-cents.

Take care, Lucinda

[Edited at 2005-03-31 23:46]

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Local time: 16:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
200-300 words Apr 1, 2005

I agree with what others have said, 200-300 words is the most I will do. On the occasions when I've been sent a longer text as a test, I have told the prospective client that I will do part of the test translation (and I choose which part--so if they're really out to have a small job translated for free, it won't do them any good). So far no one has objected.

I also have samples of my work posted in my profile (the portfolio feature) and often refer prospective clients to those rather than doing a general test (i.e., one that is not related to a specific job).

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