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How to quote when counting words is not feasible?
Thread poster: Alexandra Goldburt
Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 02:08
English to Russian
+ ...
Mar 10, 2009

I'm mainly an interpreter, and only between 5% and 10% of my income comes from translations. I have a set charge for my interpreting services (fixed rates for half-day, full day and each hour of overtime). But when a client asks me for a quote on a translation job, I am usually in doubt as to how much to quote.

The majority of documents on which I'm asked to quote come in PDF format, so I cannot run a word count. One particular client counts the words for me. Another one pays based on target words. I like both approaches, as they make my life so much easier.

I like it even better when it is the client who sets the price (I have two clients who do it, and they are both rather generous), or when the client pays by the hours. However, the majority of clients will not do it. They simply e-mail a PDF attachment and ask me for a price.

What I do is this: I try to estimate how much time will I spend on the project, put a price on my time and quote accordingly. This method is far from ideal, however, because many times I either underestimate or overestimate the amount of time a particular project will take.

I'm sure there must be a better way to do it! For example, "this much for a diploma", "this much for a birth certificate", "this much for a handwritten letter", "this much for a page of a contract", etc.

I'll be very grateful for all your suggestions.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:08
Flemish to English
+ ...
pdf-counter Mar 10, 2009

http://www.download3k.com/System-Utilities/File-Disk-Management/Download-PDF-Counter.html

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Mohd shadab  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:38
Hindi to English
+ ...
Pdf-CONVERTER Mar 10, 2009

Hi

Its better to have a pdf converter as mention by Williamson. Apart of them you can also find more typing in google " free pdf to word converter" and related terms. If you do not want to use any of them then you need to examine the document if it has picture and others related thing, A normal A4 page contains approx 250-300 words you can either quote according to them as well. But my suggestion it to go for pdf converter itself which give you exact amount of words.

Regards
Mohd.Shadab
www.troikaa.co.in


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Rahi Moosavi  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 05:08
Member (2004)
Farsi (Persian) to English
+ ...
Target word count Mar 10, 2009

You might want to consider quoting based on target word and give the client a ballpark figure on how much you estimate the work will cost.

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Sushan Harshe
India
Local time: 15:38
English to Hindi
+ ...
Use text selector tool Mar 10, 2009

Hi Alexandra,
Use the 'Text Edits Tool' in PDF. It selects only text. Copy and then pest it in Words. Run "Word Count..." Condition is that it should not be right protected.


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Nils Andersson  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2009)
English to Swedish
+ ...
There are different types of PDF. Mar 11, 2009

Some are PDF text, and the text can be "selected", "copied"
and punched into whatever other software you use,
including MS-Word.

Others are - ARGGH - image files, often faxed,
and can be a nightmare, not just because
it is hard to do a word count.

Nils Andersson


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 02:08
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your answers. Mar 11, 2009

Williamson: I clicked on you link, and the counting tool costs $14. Not that much - but will it work? Did you use it yourself? Did it work for you?

Mohd Shadab: I tried to google "free PDF to word converter", and found a website that promises to do just that. Tried to convert a couple of files, but the result was complete gibberish. Probably because these files belong to "ARGGH" type, according to Nils Andersson's classification. But the suggestion that I assume that a typical page has 250-300 words and quote accordingly will help. Thanks!

Rahi: I would absolutely love to charge by the target word! However, all my clients except one want an exact quote before giving me the job.

Sushan: I think you are talking about a full version of Adobe, and I don't have it. I only have Adobe Acrobat that can read, but not write. Given that I don't do that many translation projects, buying a full version will not pay off for me.

Nils: ARGGH is my thoughts exactly! The majority of files in cuestions are of the ARGGH type, such as a diploma faxed to an agency and then e-mailed to me as a PDF attachment. Do you charge extra for the ARGGH factor?

Again, thanks to all, and have a good week!


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Sushan Harshe
India
Local time: 15:38
English to Hindi
+ ...
Am also talking about Reader and not full version Mar 11, 2009

Hi Alexandra,
I am talking about the Adobe Acrobat Reader, and not full version. Regularly I am practicing this. When client tells me that the source file is .pdf, I just request him for copy and pest rights (if they have protected the file). This allows me to check word count and also allows me to get translation for the terms previously translated.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 11:08
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Target word count or by the hour Mar 11, 2009

Very often when it is not possible to do a source word count, the job involves spending time on formatting etc.

Unless I have agreed with the client that I deliver a straight Word file, I charge by the hour.

If the source is a scanned medical record, for instance, a plain text file and a target word count is fine.
I sometimes have a different rate for a target count, because there may be 20% more words in the English version than the Danish version of the same text. It depends on your language pair, and you can work it out over a large number of easily counted texts, or ask a reliable agency

If I have to spend a lot of time fiddling with a Power Point presentation, doing extra manual checks because the spell-checker doesn't work, setting up tables and other formatting, I do not do it for free!

Sometimes I quote a maximum for the job - and tell the client it is a maximum. I set it high to account for surprises. Clients are happy when you charge less than your estimate, but it is very hard to get them to go above it.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:08
Flemish to English
+ ...
Anycount 6.0 Mar 11, 2009

I have Anycount 6.0 from AIT (the authors of translation office 9.0). Not that expensive and it counts all types of files. So no, I did not buy it.

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Nils Andersson  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2009)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Word count by language Mar 11, 2009

Other things being equal, the translation usually has more words than the
source, as some words will have to be translated into a phrase, or even
an explanation.

However, there are also language differences. English usually has more words
than German or the Scandanavian tongues, mainly because the latter compounds,
i.e. writes words together, my favorite is the old East German
Tagesaufenthaltsbenehmigung. Additionally, the Scandivian languages, uniquely,
usually sticks the definite article at the end as an ending, NOT a separate
word, which depresses the word count.

Thus, if I can get away with it, I quote on the English word count regardless
of whether the job is English->Swedish or vice versa. And, again, by English
word count for German->English, French->English.

Nils


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 02:08
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
An update Apr 16, 2009

First, I'd like to thank everybody again for the answers.

Last week, one of those scanned files (also know as ARRGH files) landed in my e-mail box. I asked the client to pay me by the target word - and she agreed to this. I just hope that the majority of clients will be just as reasonable!


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