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Extra fee for scanned files?
Thread poster: Pablo Guazzotti

Pablo Guazzotti  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:52
English to Spanish
+ ...
Apr 3, 2007

Hi everybody,
I've always worked with simple file formats, which hardly ever exceded Word documents in difficulty. However, this time, a client has submitted for quotation a large document in which I discovered numerous graphics displaying charts and tables. Presumibly, I would have to reconstruct them, should I be given the job.
I firstly (quite naturally) thought of OCR as much as I could, although some parts are below recognition quality, and I know I'll have to do them manually.
Obviously, I would have to copy the layout of those graphs and charts, which in some cases consitutes 90% of the document. Clearly, this is more than "just" translating, and I wonder how would you boys and girls go about charging this customer. Have you had a similir experience? Do you normally work with scanned docs (I know hard copies is still a more extreme case?). In conclusion, I wonder if there is an industry standard for these kinds of circumstances, and of course, any help or advice will be appreciated. Thanks!


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:52
English to Dutch
+ ...
Just the text Apr 3, 2007

I would tell the client that I'm a translator, and whence will just translate any text. In places where there are graphics, insert a placeholder and add any contained text with clear instruction what goes where.
If the client wants a complete document, tell them that will cost extra, and charge it by the hour. Be sure to tell them that you are NOT a professional editor, so you cannot guarantee professional quality for anything but the pure translation, and advise them to seek someone else to do the editing.
Don't burn yourself with a job that isn't your profession.

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lexical  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:52
Portuguese to English
thinking along the same lines Apr 3, 2007

I don't have any concrete experience to share with you, Pablo, but this thread interests me a lot because I'm thinking about going down the same route as you.

There's no doubt in my mind that jobs delivered to the translator as TIFs, jpgs or faxes take longer and are less profitable, and this ought to be reflected in our prices. There is no opportunity, for example, with these types of files to use a CAT tool. Much worse, as you point out, when we have to reconstruct (sometimes complicated) tables, which are not part of the translator's job.

My impression is that file types are multiplying. I receive fewer faxes than some years ago but more jobs sent as PDFs, Excel files, TIFs, etc. I'm considering applying a surcharge of between 15 and 25% to all files that are not Word files or RTFs.

As to your immediate problem of 90% of the document consisting of tables and graphs, I think I would charge for the usual word count PLUS the time taken to construct the files, at your hourly rate. Otherwise, you are going to be working for virtually nothing. Or else, just refuse the job.

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Mitch Hammarstrom  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:52
Member (2010)
English to Swedish
+ ...
An out of the box suggestion Apr 3, 2007

I have never done this and I'm not sure how your or any client would react. However, think about going through and doing all the graphics/tables of the project. Time yourself and charge per hour. Then, invoice a separate bill for rate/per word.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:52
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Charge extra for formatting Apr 3, 2007

I always charge extra for formatting if I do it at all.

If it is a Word table or something I can manage, then fine. I point out to clients that I am a translator, and not an IT-geek, and I simply do not take on much formatting.

Even if you can do it and want to, formatting and DTP take time, so only the very basics are included in the rate per word.

Charge a reasonable rate per hour or half hour - because you have to make a living, buy software, and learn to use it etc.

Best of luck!

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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:52
English to Polish
+ ...
Endless Grief Apr 4, 2007

If the document is a scanned PDF file, I take a snapshot (the camera icon in Adobe Reader) of the graphic and translate the text in the graphic underneath in a table - original on the left, translation on the right.

A separate case is a Word file, but with e.g. Excel graphs pasted in as graphics objects (which is wise, in a way). If I can obtain the original Excel file - fine. If not, I proceed as above.

If the document is a hard copy, I simply put a comment like "graph goes here" and translate the text in the graphic as above.

Same for complicated (i.e. large) tables - I will translate column and line headings, but will not copy the numbers.

I try to approximate the layout of the original, but will not go to great lengths to do so.

I always tell the client this before I start the translation. They (almost) always accept. If not, we go to phase two of price negotiations

Pawel Skalinski

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Pablo Guazzotti  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:52
English to Spanish
+ ...
thanks Apr 4, 2007

thank you all for the feedback!

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German to English
How to charge for translation of graphics Oct 11, 2007


I am referring to graphics that cannot be edited. Efforts involved to translate such graphics are high and a per word rate cannot be applied here. It does not serve as a compensation for the efforts involved.
I would also suggest an hourly rate.

Also, I do not consider this work as translation work at all. It is additional, time-consuming work, which would not bring a smile on my face; irrespective of the pay.

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