list of standard payment units in different countries
Thread poster: Michael Wetzel

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:36
German to English
Mar 2, 2011

Hello everyone,
I am interested in the answer to a specific question: Is payment per 1000 characters (source or target?) a known unit for invoicing in the UK and/or in the US?

However, I think that a solid discussion of the general topic of potential units for invoicing would interest a lot of us.

With this in mind, I would like to contribute some information about the situation in Germany, the only market that I am familiar with:

The following units are all typical for Germany:
1. Words = in source text (sources: everyone is familiar with this)
2. Lines (Normzeilen!) = 55 characters incl. spaces in target text (sources: Honorarspiegel des Bundesverband der Dolmetscher und Übersetzer [BDÜ = leading translators' and interpreters' association] and the Justizvergütungs- und -
entschädigungsgesetz [JVEG], a law regulating fees related to services for courts)
3. Pages (Normseiten) are also a standard unit for invoicing, but I do not have enough experience with them to give reliable information on standard practices... Here are some possible definitions:
3a. The Verband der Übersetzer [VdÜ] of the union Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft [ver.di] and the VG Wort suggest 1500 characters incl. spaces in target text as the correct figure for a 'virtual' page.
3b. Reformatting text to create pages with 30 lines of 60 characters may also be standard practice in some areas = genuine pages (at least previously recommended by VdÜ and the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, an interest group representing publishers and sellers of books)
3c. Pages = 1800 characters incl. spaces in target text (also seems widespread)

The following units are unusual, but sometimes show up:
4. Lines = 60 characters incl. spaces in target text
5. Lines = 50 characters incl. (or not?) in target text (source: old regulation replaced by the JVEG)
6. Lines = 55 characters incl. spaces in source text (= presumably a misunderstanding)
7. Lines = literally lines in the given document (= certainly a misunderstanding)

Of course invoicing per hour, per day, or by lump sum is also a standard procedure.



Michal Glowacki  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:36
Member (2010)
English to Polish
+ ...
Words Mar 2, 2011

Hi Michael,

In the UK the standard is source words. Sometimes it's 1000 source words, sometimes it's just source word (with 1000 source words it's easier to see the rate for some as it's a nice figure like 50, 60, 70, etc.). Sometimes target word count is agreed on if a file is a PDF.

A note:
In Poland you normally charge in 2 ways:
1. Page: standard page is normally 1800 characters, including spaces. For sworn translations that's 1125. Some companies also do 1625 characters.

2. Source word/1000 source words - self-explanatory.

Hope this helps.


[Edited at 2011-03-02 14:08 GMT]


Jean Lachaud  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:36
English to French
+ ...
No! Mar 2, 2011

The answer to your question is a solid NO. In the USA, the billing unit (for agencies) is per word.


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list of standard payment units in different countries

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