Average word per hour or per day?
Thread poster: Pete179

Local time: 13:27
English to French
+ ...
Aug 13, 2003

Hello fellow translators,

I was wondering what was the average translated words you are doing per hour or per day. I am a currently a student in translation and I was wondering what would be do-able.

Thanks for the replies!


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:27
German to English
There are a number of factors Aug 13, 2003

Your daily output can depend on a variety of things, including

Document formatting (takes up time if you're working from hard copy)

Whether you are using a translation tool (DejaVu, Trados, etc. can speed up the process if the document has a lot of repetitive terms/phrases)

Your familiarity with the topic (researching a term can take up time)

Style of the document (a well-written document can sometimes take longer, as can a poorly-written text, since you have to figure out what the author means in the latter case)

Your familiarity with your software (this mainly pertains to my first point above, but using the tools of the trade is a factor to be considered)

There are lots of other considerations, such as your motivation, health, weather (if you're living in Europe these days), etc.

A beginner should be pleased to get through 1800-2000 words/day --accurately. I usually tell my clients that I can do 2500 words/day and no-one has ever complained that I'm too slow.


Terry Thatcher Waltz, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:27
Chinese to English
+ ...
Yes, I agree! Aug 13, 2003

I never promise over 3000 from Chinese to English. If I'm pressed, I can do 5,000 if the conditions are right (topic, electronic file, no dialect issues, etc.) but I couldn't keep it up more than a couple of days, and that's doing a steady regimen of an hour translating, 20 minutes on the exercise machine, an hour translating...not the lifestyle I crave (although probably healthier than the lifestyle I *do* crave)...


Carolyn Denoncourt  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:27
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Add one more variable Aug 13, 2003

I agree with the postings thus far, and I would add one more variable. Try doing one- hour timings on yourself translating different types of texts, to give yourself a baseline. I personally find I average 2500 to 3500 words per hour over an 8 hr. day.

(Looks like I posted too soon without saying what the other variable is: your typing speed.)

[Edited at 2003-08-13 19:54]


HRiley  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't overestimate your speed Aug 14, 2003

Like many others on this board, I can manage from 2500 to 4000 words a day, depending on the subject matter and file format. However, I never commit to more than 3000 words a day, and usually tell clients that my limit is 2500. That gives me ample time to check over my translation, check terminology, ask any questions and sort out the paperwork.

Thinking back to my time working as an in-house translator for a translation company, the novice translators were expected to handle between 2000 and 2500 words a day, on the whole.


Fuad Yahya  Identity Verified
+ ...
300 words an hour. Aug 14, 2003

2,400 words a day.

I am fussy and easily distractd, traits that I do not usually publicize.


Francesco Barbuto  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:27
English to Italian
+ ...
360 words, an hour and a half Aug 20, 2003

Not more than 360 words in an hour and a half; that's 240 words an hour. Not beyond this limit: I am not supposed to work in a sweatshop!!!


[Edited at 2003-08-20 19:08]


CathyFS  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:27
German to English
+ ...
1,500 - 2,000 new words per day Aug 20, 2003

I worked as Translation Coordinator for a company where we always calculated translation schedules based on 1,500 words per day for software and 2,000 for Help/documentation. This was principally based on new words but it applied for every schedule I planned. Crikey I'm in awe at the thought of people translating 4-5K - does this not mean that translation quality is bound to suffer? My current output is 5K per day, only 2K of thse are new words, and I'm finding it an absolute nightmare, even for all my experience in the relevant field! When starting out you should absolutely never go over 2,000 words per day. None of my suppliers expect me do do more than this!!!


United Kingdom
Local time: 18:27
Dont stress yourself out! Aug 24, 2003

I just wanted to let you know that I have only been translating professionally for five months now. At times, especially when deadlines are demanding, I would translate up to 6,000 a day (Spanish to English for the Inter-American Development Bank). In doing this, I found that I spent more time in my revision and proof-reading. By limiting yourself (I'm a workaholic), you will see a difference in the quality of your work, and you will spend less time revising. Hope this helps!
Haley M. Cheek


Richard Benham  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:27
German to English
+ ...
Run that past me again.... Aug 27, 2003

I personally find I average 2500 to 3500 words per hour over an 8 hr. day.

Let's take the midrange figure of 3000 words per hour. That's 50 wpm, not a bad *typing* speed. Don't you ever stop to think, check your work, consult a dictionary, or do a web search?

Most other posters claim to do about as many words in a day as you say you do in an hour. Are you sure you got your sums right there?


Norbert Gunther Kramer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:27
German to English
+ ...
It all depends ... Sep 8, 2003

I find that there can be huge differences in how long it takes me to translate texts of equal length.

Including the preliminary research that is necessary in some cases, and including proofreading, I translate anywhere from 150 words to 450 words an hour; about 250 would be typical for most jobs I do. For all practical purposes, I can keep that up for a maximum of 8 hours a day — in which case the actual workday would be much longer than 8 hours because I would need numerous breaks.

In other words, Job A with 1500 words may take me just as long as Job B with 4500 words — a 200% difference!

The biggest factor that determines the speed is: how much do I have to look up? If the vocabulary and subject matter are very basic or very familiar to me, I can speed through the job. If not, I may need as much time, or more, to research the terminology as I do to actually write the translation.

Other factors include: the complexity of the sentence structure and overall density of the text; the length of the job (shorter ones may take longer per word count); and the attention given to stylish writing and to double- and triple-checking everything.

A related issue: In my opinion, too much emphasis is given in the industry to the word count, and not enough to the degree of difficulty and complexity of any given job. This applies to output expectations and particularly to payment. Yes, more difficult jobs may pay more per word, but I don't find that they typically pay proportionally more.

To use the example above: To make $30/hour, I should get $0.07/word for Job A and $0.20/word for Job B. In reality, I may get $0.08 for Job A and $0.12 for Job B.


Spanish to English
+ ...
about 2,000 Sep 22, 2003

would be a conservative estimate. I work as a project manager for a translation company and when we work out timelines for clients we allow 2000 words per day for translation.

You may find gradually that you can work faster than this, but as a beginner it might be better not to give your clients false hopes and end up missing deadlines. If they say that's not fast enough, impress upon them the need for quality as well as speed, and as someone above said, if you go too fast it only makes more work in the revision stage.


Italiano (X)
Local time: 19:27
Polish to Italian
+ ...
I translate 900 words/hour... until today I supposed to be normal.. Jun 6, 2004

Tayfun Torunoglu wrote:
Hourly I did even 800 words in an hour ( Agreements etc..)
but it is not possible to keep this speed long hours.

i'm happy to read that someone else it's able to work NEAR
my speed.. with the difference that i can keep this speed
for many many hours..

i live in poland (i'm italian) and here people
count page (1800chars) and not words.. so i calculated my
speed from some my works.. (sometimes i write how much time
i used)

some example:
work A (technical): 10635 words / 13 hours (820 words/h)
work B (technical): 500 words / 30 minutes (1000 words/h)
work C (technical): 1460 words/ 90minutes (970 words/h)
work D (technical): 185 words /15 minutes (740 words/h)
work E (LITERATURE): 4060 words/9 hours (450 words/h)

i ASHAMED after making work E, because i ran so slow,
"ONLY" 450 words/hours. Because was not technical but just
a lot of "bla bla bla" very complicated to a stupid conference about a polish writer.. But today i discovered that i work
more more faster then other translators.. i'm REALLY SURPRISED!

Paradox is that i live in Poland and here local agency pay
from 50% to 25% what "normal" agency pay in the rest of the
world.. So i work twice faster to ear the same or half!!!

Excuse me, may be it's boring what i wrote, but today i called
all my polish friend and told him "i discovered i'm NOT normal"..

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