How does word count work? Help please
Thread poster: bello82

Local time: 18:53
English to Italian
+ ...
Dec 2, 2013

Dear professionals,

I am still a student and still new with regard to the translation profession. II thought I could ask some professionals here. I have been given assignments by a company: I will have to translate their FAQ pages into Italian and I see it as a great opportunity to gain experience. The assignments are obviously paid.

They have sent me some Excel files and they counted 12, 555 words. Column A has the English text between tags for HTML purposes and they also took repetitions into account. There are some portions of text that have 4 words in English in column A but when I translate into Italian it becomes 7 words in Column B; 76 words in English become 95 in Italian.

I am not sure how I will get paid. Will they pay me by the word count they decided? Or do I have to send an estimate by the new word count that comes up when I translate?
Could you please clarify that for me?


Jane Phillips  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:53
Member (2013)
French to English
Word count is the number of words in the source language Dec 2, 2013

My understanding is that the word count is always the number of words in the source language. That way everyone knows where they stand and no-one will question whether the translator might have found a slightly wordier way of saying something to get a few extra euros. Translations generally tend to be longer than the original text, unless you have to keep to a limited number of words.

That said I'm an ex-student with a very small toe in the professional world. So others may give a different reply.


Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:53
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Just like Jane said Dec 2, 2013

Unless you agree otherwise, the wordcount is the number of source words. The advantage of this system is that from the very beginning you have an idea of how much work is involved and the client knows how much he's going to pay.

Best Regards


Local time: 18:53
English to Italian
+ ...
Thank you Dec 2, 2013

Thank you Jane and Stan for your replies; they were really helpfulicon_smile.gif


Molly Yurick  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:53
Spanish to English
Specify before starting Dec 7, 2013

I have done translations for both for source and final word count. You should speak with your client about this before you start to avoid any misunderstandings.

Source count is the ideal way of charging because it is clear, concise and fair. I am a Spanish-English translator, and Spanish always has more words than English. When I get offered a final word count offer, it feels like a bit of a scam because this way the agency knows they will almost always pay quite a bit less for the translation.

So, my advice would be to clarify this before you start- and always push for a source word count.

[Edited at 2013-12-07 13:55 GMT]


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