How many pages per day?
Thread poster: Lydia Farago

Lydia Farago  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 23:50
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
Dec 1, 2008

I accepted an assignment of about 40 pages and had ten days to translate the text from English into German. The translation turned out to be a complete washout, basically because I had to do a lot of research which the client hadn't mentioned. In the end, the translation needed much editing too and the client wasn't too happy. My basic problem was that I couldn't properly assess the time needed to translate a page of difficult, partly scientific text. I therefore wonder what a reasonable allocation of time is. How many pages of a specialized text can be translated within a day? And how do you assess the time you need? I know, of course, that this is highly individual and differs from translator to translator but I wonder about your experiences in this regard and am most grateful for any advice you can give.

Thanks so much.


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Warren Lindsay  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:50
Chinese to English
Word Count vs. # of Pages Dec 1, 2008

First of all I would say a more accurate way of estimating how much time a job will require is to identify the word count of a document as opposed to the number of pages. Once you get a feel for how many words you can, on average, comfortably complete in an hour, you can calculate how long a given project will likely take. Of course, technical translations can take far longer than translations in more general fields, so it's also important to determine whether you're sufficiently familiar with the technical field of the potential project. If you're not, don't accept the project. You will end up spending vast amounts of time looking up terminology (as you may have in this case) and the end result will probably not be completely accurate.

To get a handle on this, your best bet is to ask the client to send you a word count estimate and a sample of the text so that you can do a quick assessment. The more information they can give you up front the better it will be for both you and the client.

As you say, translation speeds vary from translator to translator, and also vary depending on the subject matter. For example, in my experience I have translated as few as 300 words per hour for highly technical or formal materials and as many as 1400+ words per hour for more basic translations. The important thing is to get a sense of what your own averages are (which will consistently increase over time), and use them to ensure that you're able to provide your clients with quality, timely translations, rather than finding yourself buried under too much work and a looming deadline. Hope this helps!


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J Chae  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:50
English to Korean
+ ...
Wow... Dec 1, 2008

1400+ words an hour. I'm really impressed. I'd never be able to type that much in an hour, let alone translating.

I'm in average 200 to 300 words per hour, and I've never accepted more than 2000 words a day - whether technical or general (well, I honestly did sometimes, which inevitably led to sleepless nights).

[Edited at 2008-12-01 23:45 GMT]

Now that I come to think about it... You probably meant 400+ words, right?

[Edited at 2008-12-01 23:46 GMT]


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Joanna Rączka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:50
Member (2009)
English to Polish
+ ...
standard Dec 2, 2008

I think it depends on the standards in your country. In Poland the generally accepted standard set by the Stowarzyszenie Tłumaczy Polskich (Association of Polish Translators and Interpreters) is 6 standard pages per day. Anything more is deemed rush job and should be paid extra. A standard page is 1800 keystrokes.

Rough conversion from standard pages to words is 250 words.

This standard - 6 pages a day is quite comfortable for both general and technical. 10 pages is feasible - occasionally. Anything more - a trade off between the deadline and quality.

Actually I don't really differentiate between general and technical. General texts can often be even more demanding.

Regards

Joanna


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Duc T
Croatia
Local time: 23:50
English to Croatian
+ ...
Heh, Dear, no advice Dec 2, 2008

What is page? Plain txt characters/words or txt spread arround in tables and figures?
What is day? 8, 10 or 14, hours, even more?
Familiar txt (science, informatics, technics for me) makes you efficient -- 20-30 pages makes no trouble, and you sleep well.
If the txt is close to your realm, may be highly motivating, you will make less pages, but learn more, widen your domain. Highly recomended. Even after 24 hours of work, you will not be to sleep for a few hours.
Repulsive txt (accounting, politics and low to me) blocks your mind, avoid it by all means! No money can pay the suffer, regardless "be professional" persuasions.

Best wishes, Duc


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:50
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
Your specialty? Dec 2, 2008

I assume the client mentioned the subject. Was it something you felt confident to translate? You mentioned having to do a lot of research so, it seems you were not familiar with the terminology.

I do not see anything out of the ordinary with the target of six pages a day. Translating six pages a day is a breeze if you know the terminology, are a a fast typist and are a good translator.

As Henry's advice goes, specialize and stick to your specialization.


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AniseK  Identity Verified
Malaysia
Local time: 05:50
Japanese to English
+ ...
How well do you understand your subject... Dec 2, 2008

Joanna R?czka wrote:


Actually I don't really differentiate between general and technical. General texts can often be even more demanding.

Regards

Joanna


Agree! Totally agree. Sometimes translating technical texts is much easier than general texts.


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LuciaC
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:50
English to Italian
+ ...
My experience Dec 2, 2008

Did you see the text in advance? I always ask to see it before accepting the job. I open the file and start reading the beginning, I browse through it, read random paragraphs and I sight translate them, in my mind. I immediately realise if there are terms I don't know and start googling them to have an idea. This only takes 10-15 minutes.

In your case, I would have done this and calculated as follows:

NOT 40 pages/10 days = 4 pages a day

but 10 days = how many actual working hours? Other jobs planned? Weekends? Family? Children etc. This reduces the available hours. Also, one always has to plan in a bit of extra time for tiredness, unforseen events (computer breaks down, etc) and above all lengthy research.

Therefore, I might have thought: 6-7 pages a day + 1-2 days for a careful revision and proofreading, which is essential in the way I work (I translate very quickly but revise very slowly). Generally, I do two revisions and a final re-reading when the text is ready to send.

The client could not have told you there was a lot of research to do because they couldn't have known how much you needed to research.

I think assessing the difficulty of a text is an essential skill and yes, it improves with experience.


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:50
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Definition Dec 2, 2008

AniseK wrote:

Joanna R?czka wrote:


Actually I don't really differentiate between general and technical. General texts can often be even more demanding.

Regards

Joanna


Agree! Totally agree. Sometimes translating technical texts is much easier than general texts.


And you and your client aren't necessarily going to agree on what constitutes "general". One ATA practice test I did years ago on "general" discussed music theory for medieval choral music in great detail.


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 23:50
English to Hungarian
+ ...
pages Dec 2, 2008

I just wish everyone stopped measuring texts to be translated in pages. Page number says next to nothing about the quantity of text.
Characters are a good measure, words are okay. Pages are useless.

BTW, "I had to do a lot of research which the client hadn't mentioned" doesn't make much sense to me. It's not the client's job to investigate how easy/difficult the source text is going to be for you. It's your job to try and get as much information as possible before taking the job and decide how much work it is going to be.

As to quantity, the 2500 words/day figure was mentioned here a couple of times as the standard, but there is a huge amount of variation. Every translator is different, every text is different. Some people can translate faster than others can type.
I personally can manage anywhere from 10000 to 30000 characters a day depending on source text.


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Giulia TAPPI  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:50
French to Italian
+ ...
French standards Dec 2, 2008

When I finished my school (ESIT) in France, we were told a full time translator was supposed to translate on average 10 pages (3.000 words) per day.
However, I fully agree you have to see the text beforehand, in order to make an estimation based on your average output.
And of course you should not take a job which is not in your field of expertise, to avoid spending too much time compared to what you can earn!


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 18:50
English to Spanish
... Dec 2, 2008

Lydia Farago wrote:

How many pages of a specialized text can be translated within a day?


It depends on average number of words per page, on how specialized I am in that kind of text (if I'm not, I simply don't accept the job), on the format of the text... on many things. Personally, I always calculate 2000-25000 words/day tops.



And how do you assess the time you need?



In the first place, by assessing the text myself.

I don't mean to be harsh, but you claim that "the translation turned out to be a complete washout, basically because I had to do a lot of research which the client hadn't mentioned". That, IMHO, is neither here nor there: it is our responsibility to assess how much research we will have to do and whether the degree of technichality is within our competence, no the clients'. Particularly so when the client needs the translation by a set date (as opposed to asking you how long you'll need).

As a rule of thumb, I make a quick calculation of how long I think I'll need, and add 2 or 3 days, just to be on the safe side. I believe that it is much better business practice to deliver good work a day or 2 early, than to deliver good work (even outstanding work) past the deadline.

Greetings
Andrea


Edit: I meant 2000-2500 words/day


[Edited at 2008-12-02 16:34 GMT]


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:50
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
2,000 - 25,000 words a day Dec 2, 2008

That's some margin, Andrea. And you must be sweating like a bull after the first 15,000 or so, tee-hee.

FWIW, I try to do 4,000/5,000 a day.


Mervyn


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 18:50
English to Spanish
... Dec 2, 2008

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

2,000 - 25,000 words a day

That's some margin, Andrea. And you must be sweating like a bull after the first 15,000 or so, tee-hee.

FWIW, I try to do 4,000/5,000 a day.


Mervyn



:lol::lol:

Good catch!!

In trying to do away with the ',' or the '.', I commited a bigger blunder...


Greetings

[Edited at 2008-12-02 16:34 GMT]


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