Minimum of words translated or revised per hour?
Thread poster: cailin

German to English
+ ...
Jan 10, 2003

Hi everyone,

Last night I had a translation agency tell me (two hours into the job) that the \"standard\" minimum number of words that a translator should be able to revise per hour is between 900 and 1000 (German - English). Is this normal/reasonable? Is it correct that even if you take an hour or so longer than what these guidelines allow for (due to the difficulty of the text, which, of course, was not mentioned before the job was offered) that they only pay you according to the guidelines? (i must stress that these guidelines had not been mentioned, nor had a definitive time limit been put on the job when offered).

After 1 year of working regularly with agencies, I am starting to get quite \"disillusioned\" with the whole business of low pay, short deadlines and little organisation. Does it have to be so stressful??? There is no doubt that each translator also has to take responsibility for his own work and conditions, but it seems like a never-ending struggle!!

(Sorry, needed to get that off my chest and it was either you guys or the wall - AGAIN! icon_wink.gif

Anyway, my question is what is the standard procedure for revising translations?

Should one charge per hour or word?

Should one agree to revising a minimum number of words per hour?

and what to do when once started, you realise the text is not of the standard a good, quality translation should be and your work has suddenly been doubled? I think this is the most important question as I believe it is quite a normal occurrence.

Thanks all for your time and attention icon_smile.gif


Antonella Andreella (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:34
German to Italian
+ ...
Hallo cailin Jan 10, 2003

Either per hour or per source word, even if I prefer per hour (it is difficult to know in advance how long such a job may take).

However I do not accept any minimum number or revised words per hour.




Jacek Krankowski (X)  Identity Verified
English to Polish
+ ...
900-1000 wds/hr. sounds reasonable, but Jan 10, 2003

it is difficult to say without first seeing the quality (or lack thereof) of the translation to be revised. As you know, sometimes it is easier to translate than correct somebody else\'s mess.


Jeannie Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:34
German to English
+ ...
communicate the problem asap Jan 10, 2003

I think 1000 words per hour for reviewing this language combination is a good rough estimate.

However, sometimes the text to review needs longer than this average. It is usually a good idea to take a quick look over the text and if you anticipate it taking longer, to contact the agency at the outset and ask them how you should proceed.

If the quality of the translation is particularly bad, the agency should sort this out with the original translator and then return to you for review or be prepared to allow that extra time.

It is always more difficult to sort out such a problem once the work is finished, rather communicate the problem to the agency as soon as you possibly can.

In my experience, translators are generally pretty honest about time taken to review and as well as some going over the average time, I have often experienced reviews done in a quicker time than I would have expected.

Hope this helps.


lcmolinari  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:34
French to English
+ ...
Agree with Kalimeh Jan 10, 2003

I totally agree. The rate proposed seems reasonable, but if you get a few pages into the translation and see that it was horribly done and will require a lot of revising that will take longer than the time allotted you by the agency, let them know right away before proceeding further. This way you won\'t get stuck doing work you won\'t get paid for and it may alert them that they need to ensure the quality of their translators.

I always prefer to charge for proofreading by word, rather than by the hour. We charge this way for translation, why not for proofreading? This is after many experiences doing it the other way. I once asked a reviser to proofread a text of about 1000 words, VERY simple everyday text, mostly to make sure nothing was missing and all the numbers correctly transposed, and she billed me for 3 hours work but had made only 2 changes! I said never again.

When charging by word, you may get some horrendous translations that take hours to fix, but on the other hand you will also get some excellent ones that you may finish in 1/2 hour. I feel that it all balances out in the end.

Also, charging by word, everyone (client and translator) know up front how much it will cost and this avoids any nasty surprises.

Good luck


Nikita Kobrin  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:34
English to Russian
+ ...
You should always know what text you're going to deal with Jan 10, 2003


On 2003-01-10 09:37, cailin wrote:

Hi everyone,

Anyway, my question is what is the standard procedure for revising translations?

Should one charge per hour or word?

Should one agree to revising a minimum number of words per hour?

and what to do when once started, you realise the text is not of the standard a good, quality translation should be and your work has suddenly been doubled?

There\'re two simple rules to avoid stressful situations when revising translations:

1) charge per hour

2) NEVER accept a job without having a look at the text to be revised, proofread or edited

Doing that always be honest with your customers. If you act like the translator mentioned in Laura\'s posting above they will never apply for your services again.

Take it easy,

Nikita Kobrin

[ This Message was edited by:on2003-01-10 16:13]


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
That's OK for a normal text Jan 10, 2003

but as they say, depends on the text.


Judy Rojas  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
Put a caveat when accepting an editing job Jan 10, 2003

I always accept editing jobs with the following caveat: \"We will perform a random analysis upon receipt of the document, if it shows that the percentage of errors is above 35%, we will notify the agency of this fact and upon its acceptance proceed to translate the document altogether at our normal translation rates. We do not accept documents for editing that have been translated by machine.\"


lcmolinari  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:34
French to English
+ ...
Excellent idea! Jan 10, 2003

Ricardo\'s suggestion is great! I have gotten stuck proofreading text that seemed to me to have been done by a machine, or at least someone with no knowledge of the target language and a bilingual dictionary.

His method avoids headaches and ensures that proofreading is still profitable for the reviser.


Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:34
Italian to English
+ ...
FWIW, in Italy Jan 11, 2003

I have several customers who pay me by the page (1500 keystrokes) for revisions. Generally, the work is simple proofreading, but sometimes a bit more. With one particular customer, I find the decent work outweighs the not-so-decent stuff, so it balances out.

For one book I had to proofread, it turned out to be a rewrite and I called the customer when I\'d gotten to the bottom of page 2 to let them know. I said I\'d prefer to charge by the hour, also because I had to use revision mode so they could then show the original translator and, essentially, this takes longer (the cancel key locks in some areas).

I don\'t know if you read Italian, but Simon Turner (a translator) has published a wonderful site discussing rates into and out of various languages and for various formats. Obviously, it applies essentially to the Italian market but it may be useful. I\'ll summarize (in English!) the part about revising and proofreading below, but for those of you who are interested, here is the link to his page. It offers a very balanced view, as Simon has gotten input from a lot of translators and has put it all into this site.


There are no set rules. Again, it seems reasonable to consider from a minimum of 25-30% of your rate for translation (if you are comparing the work against the source language) to a maximum of 110% for work that must be checked, thrown out and rewritten.

... the AITI (Italian Association of Translators and Interpreters) site indicates:

Only correction of typos: 30% of the regular rate

Limited changes: 50% of the regular rate

Extensive rewriting of the text: 100% of the original rate.

Hope this helps! You might want to send your customer the link to this forum!


mmachado (X)
English to Portuguese
It might well be Jan 11, 2003


From my own experience, an experienced proofreader working on his/her subject areas should proofread 1400/1600 words per hour. This assuming the translation was alos done by an experienced translator who is experienced in that job subject matter.

If these constraints don\'t apply, then there are no limits to the time taken.

Also, from my experience, if I start proofreading something and realise it will take longer than usual I will contact company/agency ASAP to get further advice. Then agency knowing my own experience will either accept work on time taken (no matter what) or ask me to stop (and resend to translator for correction).

When \"normal time\" (based on word volume above) is exceeded I write a report to that agency explaining mistranslations or misinterpretations so that Agency can send that to translator or to other proofreader and check whether the time taken by me was reasonable.

Hope this helps. Working using this method I never had any problem and agencies are always willing to pay if they know I am not \"sleeping over it\". Report writting also takes time but then again, if I work 10 hours a day I have to consider some part of it as normal admin (say, 1,5 hours). Also, after some reports, agencies will start considering you as reliable and don\'t question every minute taken.

All the best



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