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How many pages on average should a translator be able to translate per day?
Thread poster: xxxluigigasparr
Feb 8, 2010

as I'm a beginner in traslation and I've already got other jobs to deal with during the day, can anyone tell me how many pages (of about 1500 characters spaces include) usually a translator should asked for to translate a day? I ask for it because I'd like to undestand what I have to expect by the commitments who will ask me for translating for them. For example I'm usually able to translate a page of general purpose (from English or Spanish) in about 30 minutes and I don't know if it's good or not. Moreover I don't know, for istance, if someone can usually ask me for translating ten pages in two days. Any advice?

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2010-02-08 14:46 GMT]

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:05
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Who is to say? Feb 8, 2010

We are no factory workers who are supposed to tighten so and so many screws an hour. If you translate 2 pages per hour, how many hours can you go on? And how many hours on the second day etc.
Mostly text is counted in words, not in pages.

Insist on reasonable terms. With big jobs always make sure you can also serve your other customers. So better not book all hours of the day for one customer. That's all I can say about the subject.


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Alexandra Davidson
Local time: 03:05
English to German
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It all depends, of course Feb 8, 2010

But I usually give my clients a rough estimate of 2000 words per day, which amounts to approx 8-10 standard pages (with about 200-250 words on one page).

It all depends, of course, on the exact language combination, the type of text and how difficult it is. How much reference material is available/the translator has to sift through, if there are any questions that come up during translation etc. etc.

But an average of 2000 words/day is a fairly good estimate, I would think.

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satish krishna itikela  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:35
Member (2011)
English to Telugu
+ ...
No certain rule or condition exist. Feb 8, 2010

Dear luigigasparro,

Nice to see you new in this professional field of work. Generally there will be no rule or condition to translate certain number of pages in a day or hour. There will be no certain words as 'should' and 'must' and no one will insist on the productivity in this field but it depends on your capability and talent that how many pages or words you can translate per day or hour. As said by my one of seniors Mr. Heinrich Pesch generally text will be counted in words and very rarely such as in literary translation pages will be counted instead of words.

Take some reasonable time to translate and after translation some time for proofreading and editing yourself then only you can produce quality translation which will satisfy your clients or customers or agencies. By experience of some years you can increase your productivity i.e certain amount of words per day.

I Wish you a happy and peaceful career in this field!

Best regards,

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:05
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Don't know about pages... Feb 8, 2010

Well, this is a very good question indeed, and one that is very difficult to answer.

Your translation throughput will vary depending on the language pair, your experience, how fast you type, your knowledge of the subject matter, etc. etc. etc.

Assuming that a page of 1,500 characters contains roughly 200 words, there is this general idea that in English-Spanish translation a professional translator can translate a minimum of 12-13 pages per day (2,500 source words/day). Of course a majority of translators I know can translate a lot more, but as I said it will depend on a number of factors.

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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:05
Italian to English
Expectations Feb 8, 2010

At about 10.30 this morning, I received a request from an agency to quote on a job of c.3,000 words in PDF to be returned in DOC format before close of business today.

To be fair to the outsourcer, there was no attempt to impose a fee but the implied work rate still seems a little optimistic, to put it mildly.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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7 to 10 pages Feb 8, 2010

Alexandra Davidson wrote:
I usually give my clients a rough estimate of 2000 words per day, which amounts to approx 8-10 standard pages (with about 200-250 words on one page).

Yes. If we take the 2000 words rule, and we assume 5 key presses per word, then it's between 7 and 10 pages of 1500 characters.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:05
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I try to evade this issue! Feb 8, 2010

That is not a very helpful answer, I know.
The short answer is that you have to assess each job individually. Even with experience, you will end up now and then working weekends and late nights...

I have just spent a few really gruelling days on two very different jobs.

One was rather on the edges of my usual fields (or a little beyond...), but I was talked into it and it was a really interesting topic.

It was an article for a semi-scientific magazine, 12 pages and about 6200 words of Danish, which became 6800 words in English. (This is typical - there is often a large difference in word count from one language to another.) There were passages of narrative, and this person writes very well, so the text did flow quite well once I had settled on the terminology.

The other was a medical job, also 12 pages as it happens, but there were 2608 source words according to the word count.

It actually took me just as long as the other one!
The text was medical records and extremely compact, with dozens of Latin abbreviations and specialist expressions, for use in a research project. Although I think I know a lot of them, I check them all. It takes time, and it proves necessary.

When I start, I am really pleased if I get through 150 words an hour, but later on these texts sometimes begin to repeat, and I can go somewhat faster. OK, there were typos and unusual expressions in this one, so I ended up consulting the client, and that took time as well...

Between them, that was a very full week´s work!
I aim at maximum 8000 source words a week when quoting for jobs, something like 10 000 in English.
In practice it varies a lot, and some weeks I really have to struggle to get them done, while on other occasions I suddenly find I have whistled through 1000 words for a regular client in a couple of hours.

Formatting is another chapter, and you have to take that into account too, but only your own tastes and experience can help you there.

Likewise CATs ... The texts I work with are rarely shortened by a CAT (+/- 100 words in the 6000-word text, slightly more in the other). But some texts are more repetitive, and a CAT really does reduce the word count.
You still have to proofread the repeats, whatever clients try to tell you...

Best of luck!

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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:05
German to English
10 pages / 2500 words per day not unreasonable for experienced translator Feb 8, 2010

As others have mentioned, a translator's output can depend on a variety of factors -- familiarity with the topic, formatting (recreation of tables, etc.), personal commitments, etc. As you may have seen elsewhere on Proz, many translators claim phenomenal output, and there's no reason to doubt their veracity. There have been many days during which I've cranked out (that's the word for it!) well in excess of 5K words, I don't promise that as my normal output, and I turn down jobs that come in out of the cold that require me to translate more than 2500-3000 words/day.

Jobs requiring you to produce more than you are able to without sacrificing quality provide lessons learned the hard way.

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Egidijus Slepetys  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:05
German to Lithuanian
4 pages or 1000 words Feb 8, 2010

I would suggest to calculate 4 pages as an average daily output, when a client asks, what time do you need for a project.

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Oleg Osipov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 05:05
English to Russian
+ ...
Once upon a time... Feb 8, 2010

Once, -a long time ago, in the 90s, - when I was translating a science fiction book from a Star Trek series, I became curious how many pages I could do in 24 hours.
I managed to do 20 pages. There was no particular haste, just curiosity. Curiosity didn't kill the cat, but since then the rule for me is not to translate more, than 7 to 8 pages...

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Local time: 03:05
Spanish to English
Cartelle? Feb 9, 2010

Ciao Luigi,

I'm in Italy too where people still talk in 'cartelle', which are generally taken to be about 200 words each.

As a general rule I say 2000 words a day. But I always add "I need to see the text first." (If the 2000 words are contained, say, in patent applications or financial reports, they may involve pages of individual terms with no context.)
In fact, in a hard day's work I can generally fit in a lot more, but I don't want to do too many of those!

Also remember that when you are starting out, things may take longer.

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Isaac Verdú  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:05
English to Spanish
+ ...
A bit late, I know... Mar 1, 2010

But I would really like to participate, for I am a begginer myself.

Being a freelance translator is, at the moment, my second job, so knowing how much work I would be able to get done was a big deal for me. I don`t think I have the final answer yet, but I`m starting to understand how the game goes.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but it depends on a number of factors. For instance, I am currently working on my first relatively large project, which is a website for a dental care company. One of the articles I just finished was about 460 words long, and it took me little over one hour to get it done, including a first check. I now have to double check, and then select a few articles and have them proofread by someone else.

Now, I translated almost 2000 words today, in about five hours. Since I started today, I think I will be able to get that time down to 3.5 - 4 hours by the end of this week. I have three weeks left to finish this job, which is little over 32.000 words long; that means I would have to translate around 1600 words everyday, including weekends. I work from 7 am to 4 pm, so translating 3 hours everyday is about as much work as I can handle. Needless to say, I can`t take another customer before I finish this project.

There are two things I would like to point out with this. First, you could determine how fast you are right now. Just take different texts, covering different topics, in your different languages combinations, but with approximately the same length, and find out how long it takes you to translate them. This will give you a preety good idea of how much work you can get done under different circumstances. Don`t forget to include some extra time to drink water, go to the bathroom, etc. The good news is that if you do this now, you will get a worse-case estimate, and it will only get better as you improve your skills.

Second, I don`t think you should worry about how much work a translator should handle. Just worry about how much work YOU can handle, for it is the only thing that matters to you. If another translator can get the job done with the same quality, for the same money, in a smaller amount of time, there`s nothing you can do about it. Just focus on what you can do, make sure you let you potential customer know how good your work is, and quote using realistc time lapses. At the end of the day it all comes down to delivering a high quality translation on time, without feeling overwhalmed by work.

Best regards!!!

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eva maria bettin
Local time: 03:05
German to Italian
+ ...
Grandma's comment Mar 1, 2010

Somebody was talking about the 90ies as "long time ago" - well, in the 70ies and 80 I managed to do up to 10 "cartelle" - a page with 25 lines- or about 1000 types- spaces included/ per diem.
Never more than that. When it was quite scientific and really difficult - I did 5 pages in the morning, and the proof-reading in the afternoon. But please consider: we had no pc, no internet - just ordinary typewriters and the books spread on the table....

With all the on-line help You have nowadays- correction facilities, Dictionaries, 10 pages are easily achieved. If You know what You are talking about....

Best wishes- Eva

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Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:05
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Content Mar 1, 2010

It depends on the content on the text. If it's something too technical, of course you need more time. In Europe people generally limit themselves to a 1000 words per day, which is quite nice, but with Brazilian agencies I can do up to 5000, depending on the urgency and content.

[Edited at 2010-03-01 11:12 GMT]

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