Proofreading: Average Words per Day/Hour?
Thread poster: smol_ss

Local time: 16:47
German to English
+ ...
Aug 14, 2003


I am interested in learning a bit more about proofreading - I know it is often charged per hour, but what would be the average time required to proofread, say, a 5,000 word, highly technical text translated by a "good" translator in a field the proofreader is familiar with?

Thank you in advance for your assistance.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:47
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
This applies to genuine proof reading, not machine translation Aug 15, 2003

The remarks above apply to what I call 'genuine' proof reading, but not to inadequate translation or purely mechanical translation.

It is often hard to see your own errors or points which could be improved, especially when time is short. Having a colleague check through a translation lets you compare versions and choose the best in each case.

If a translation is simply badly done - by a machine or someone with insufficient knowledge of the language, so-called proof reading may take longer than starting over again. Customers should be refused politely if they send jobs like that to be 'proof read'. A good terminology list or glossary is worth far more than a bad translation!

Always ask for the source text - guessing what is meant is not good enough and you can never be sure of guessing right!

On the other hand, proof reading a good translation is a valuable way of picking up tips. I have colleagues who occasionally write things like 'god' instead of 'good', or 'an' instead of 'and'. (The spell checker doesn't care...)

But ideally we should all have everything checked by a colleague for that reason! I have learnt a lot from seeing how others tackle problems, and they cannot take out patents on them.

Best of luck!


Eva Blanar  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:47
English to Hungarian
+ ...
My personal experience Aug 15, 2003

Basically, proofreading/ editing is a shamefully underpaid job: in pricing, it is always assumed that you'll have to make minor corrections only (if any), but in reality you might spend actually more time with it than an easy-go translator equipped with a powerful CAT tool, with the translation itself. In addition, you can translate without ever printing the text out, but you can hardly take the responsibility of the proofreader without printing out the whole of it at least once (better twice).

At any rate, I calculate with 1000 words per hour and usually, I can do that volume, but I never ever take a job with the respective deadline: I simply cannot run that risk.


Irene N
United States
Local time: 10:47
English to Russian
+ ...
Some tricky question Aug 16, 2003

Theoretically, it should not be presented as proofreading slash editing. Strictly speaking, it is "either - or". Proofreader is a spell-checker who also verifies the target text for completeness and formatting. This is it! and this part should come after editing. In other words, proofreader does not have to be knowledgeable in the subject, he/she has to be "very literate" in terms of grammer etc. That is why this is not such a highly paid job. Again, I'm talking theoretically, especially for the cases when we deal with direct customers; however, large agencies practice such "real" proofreading and even include the cost in their bid budgets.

Now, in most cases clients have a very vague idea of what the nature of this job is or, rather, what they ask you to do. What they know is that you speak the target language, and "ALL!!! you have to do is take a look and make sure it is OK in Russian (English, Spanich, etc)". Don't you hate it:). My resume - it is up to us to accept proofreading with editing implied and get paid for proofreading. On average, rates for editing are 2 - 2.5 times higher compared to proofreading rates in Russian-English pair in the U.S.

Just a reminder - when you finish your translation, what do you do? Two jobs - first, you read the whole thing carefully for the correctness, you think about the content only. Then, after you are sure that to your best knowledge everything is correct and makes sense, you do the spellcheck, go over formatting etc. The moment you try to do both at once, you'll either miss a couple of typos or let some less than perfect term slip into your beautiful job.

[Edited at 2003-08-16 15:34]

[Edited at 2003-08-16 15:51]


Laura Vinti  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:47
German to Italian
+ ...
Editing: how much to charge per source word? Nov 10, 2003

Based on your translating rates, how much should one charge per word for editing? One fourth?
Thanks for your tips!


Rosa Paredes  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
40% of your translation rate Dec 12, 2010

Excellent comments, but going back to the original question .... I think that the rate for proofing (not editing) in this part of the world is 40% of your translation rate or $35/hr.




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