Rates per line: how do you calculate your output?
Thread poster: Elisa Balboni

Elisa Balboni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:40
English to Italian
+ ...
Jul 26, 2015

Hi everyone,

after an MA in Specialized Translation and a year spent doing other stuff, I am now moving mi first steps in the world of freelance translation and agencies.

I was asked to quote my hourly output and rate in lines: now, I seem to understand that this is not a common measurement, but still... How do you calculate a line rate? Does anyone know of useful tools? The only ones I was able to find do not allow for such a conversion.

I do know that line vary greatly between different languages - I am Italian native speaker and work with English and German.

I will be extremely grateful for any help you can give!!!!!icon_smile.gif


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Difficult Jul 26, 2015

That's a difficult one. The number of words per line could vary significantly with document width, margins, line length, font size, font type, formatting etc.

I would not give a general line rate for this reason but ask to see the concrete text. Only then can you calculate the number of words in a representative section, and then convert that to an average line rate for that concrete text.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:40
English to German
+ ...
Varies Jul 26, 2015

Thomas T. Frost wrote:

That's a difficult one. The number of words per line could vary significantly with document width, margins, line length, font size, font type, formatting etc.

I would not give a general line rate for this reason but ask to see the concrete text. Only then can you calculate the number of words in a representative section, and then convert that to an average line rate for that concrete text.


That means also that average line rates can vary from text to text.


 

Richard Purdom  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 07:40
Dutch to English
+ ...
work with words! Jul 26, 2015

I had one client who insisted on paying per line, I've no idea why but it was based on 60 characters, on average 10 words of Portuguese. So that would be 30 - 60 lines per hour, at 0.50 - 1.00 EUR per line.

However, you could be setting yourself up accepting a rate, since a line might be as long as a piece of string; maybe try it once anyway to see how it works out as you're just beginning, and if it doesn't work out in your favour put it down to an experience on the learning curve...

[Edited at 2015-07-26 14:20 GMT]


 

Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
Danish to English
+ ...
Elastic lines Jul 26, 2015

Richard Purdom wrote:

a line might be as long as a piece of string


As a grocer once said to me:

"It requires high moral standards to sell rubber band by the meter".


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:40
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Have you queried it? Jul 26, 2015

I know some agencies see it not as a variable but as nn characters, including or excluding spaces. This can be easily calculated from Word stats.

 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
I often get asked to quote for lines... Jul 26, 2015

... and while I'm a great believer in giving clients what they want, I usually find they're quite happy with a per-word rate. Line rates are a very odd relic from the pre-wordprocessing days.

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:40
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Elisa Jul 27, 2015

Elisa Balboni wrote:
I was asked to quote my hourly output and rate in lines.


For hourly output, take your daily output and divide by six. If you're just starting out as a translator, then your daily output is 500-1000 words.

According to this site, a standard Italian line has 60 characters. For Italian, German and English, I took the word count of the Italian, German and English Wikipedia's pages on Italy, Germany and the UK/England, and divided it by the number of characters (including spaces), and the average answer is 7.7 for German and 9.3 for English. So, to get a line rate, multiply your word rate by either 8 (German) or 9 (English).

IT: 8.8 words per line
DE: 7.7 words per line
EN: 9.3 words per line

If the agency asks you to calculate the line count yourself, simply divide the character count by sixty (or divide the word count by 8 or 9). Alternatively, it may be best to ask the client what they think the line count is.


 

Elisa Balboni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 08:40
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Jul 27, 2015

Thank you very much for all your comments, they all proved helpfulicon_smile.gif I find professional translators' experience to be the most valuable asset at this point of my "career".

I hope I won't encounter that many agencies that ask for line rates, but just in case, I'm prepared nowicon_smile.gif


 

Andrea Garfield-Barkworth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:40
Member (2015)
German to English
Rates per line is the norm in Germany Jul 27, 2015

A standard line for a translator in Germany is usually 55 characters including spaces.

Until now, I have only ever needed to use this to make a calculation.


 


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