charging extra for graphs tables etc
Thread poster: Claudine-Hélène L.

Claudine-Hélène L.
Local time: 03:32
English to French
+ ...
Mar 18, 2008

Hi everyone

As a beginner I would appreciate advice concerning what to do when a client gives you a document in a barely readable (bad photocopy) paper format and full of graphs, tables etc (50% of the document)
That is going to mean alot of extra work for me ! As I see it, my job is to translate the words from one language to another, not to have to go into Excel and do up graphs etc...
I offered to either simply translate all the words contained in the graphs/tables : they would simply appear in the final word doc as a line of text
The other option,should the client desire a finished document, would be that i redo everything but charge extra for this service.
What is the usual policy and how does one figure out how to charge for this "extra" ?

Id certainly appreciate any advice or input from other more experienced translators...

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:32
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
It's okay not to format Mar 18, 2008

cllmda wrote:
I offered to either simply translate all the words contained in the graphs/tables: they would simply appear in the final word doc as a line of text.

You are right to think that your basic translation rate is for translation only, and you are right to refuse to do heavy formatting -- because formatting isn't what you're used to do, therefore it takes longer for you to do.

There is nothing wrong with delivering an unformatted text, as long as the client is capable of formatting the text himself with minimal effort.

So, it would okay for you to give the client the tables' translations in unformatted format, as long as he would be able to put them into a table himself fairly easily. When deciding whether your final product is easy to format, try imagining it being in Cyrillic -- would you be able to put your text into tables if your text was in Cyrillic? Well, that's roughly what your translation in a strange language looks like to the client.

For tables the best option is often to provide the translation in a simple, two-column table, with the source text typed in the left column and the translations typed in the right column.

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Local time: 03:32
Danish to English
charge extra because it's a photocopy Mar 18, 2008

I think the extra charge should be for the fact that the source is provided as an image or photocopy rather than because it contains tables, as tables and graphs would be no problem if it was a pdf or doc or odt unless they were themselves images.

Basically, charge extra because the source is not an electronic file, and charge extra for publishing if they want you to design it.

When you mention this, they may suddenly find they CAN get an electronic copy of it

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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:32
English to Polish
+ ...
Tables Mar 18, 2008

In cases like this I reproduce the empty table, i.e. I make a table with the corresponding number of lines and columns, but don't fill in the actual numbers. I just translate the line and column headings. If the table cells contain text, that's a different story.

Don't bother reproducing graphs, because you can't do it with any degree of accuracy.
I simply do a legend - source text - target text. You just need to refer to the graph somehow (graph number or "page one, graph at top of page").

These are actual solutions I've used in arrangement with the client.

Pawel Skalinski

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James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:32
Russian to English
+ ...
Reconsider Mar 18, 2008

The key is to come to an agreement with your client on exactly what you will produce -- and if it isn't something you're comfortable doing, then step away from the job. I generally turn down jobs where the original text is barely legible. I figure I don't get paid enough to puzzle out what something says in order to translate it. If you decide to go ahead with it, don't be afraid to put in a note indicating where the text is illegible.

If I take the job like the one you describe, I try to reproduce the format of the original as closely as I can, although I would never try to build a graph from scratch. I reproduce tables in MS Word or Excel, depending on their complexity. Tables are easy to build in those applications.

I'm a fairly fast typist, and when I was starting out as a freelancer I would even type in numbers, figuring the client might be more likely to give me repeat business if I made their job easy. However, I must admit that I'm less willing to do that now.

I should also confess that my own background is different from that of most freelancers today. I started translating as a staff linguist at a time when hard copy was all we had to work with. In those days, we used scissors and glue to literally cut and paste images, equations, and tables. If there was text in the images or tables, we would type translations on a separate piece of paper, cut them out, and then glue them on, making a primitive kind of text box, if you will. It was very labor intensive, but when the result was photocopied, it looked surprisingly good.

Ah, those were the good old days!

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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:32
French to English
I'm old too I guess Mar 18, 2008

I remeber doing all those things. Actually, by just giving you a photocopy, it seems like the client is harking back to this period too. I agree with PAS, make tables (although only if they are very simple to set up) and just paste the relevent text in, no numerical data. The graphs can be keyed, photocopy the clients photocopy and type or write a letter or number next to the text box and then a list of the translations:
a. box text one
b. box text two
c. etc
Does this make sense?
You could charge a rate around 40.00 USD (maybe? any thoughts?) to do the formatting, but it would probably take you forever and a good secretary could probably do it in-house much quicker, so they probably won't go for it. Don't be too cheap on what you quote them, it's better for you if they don't have you do it.

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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:32
English to Polish
+ ...
More thoughts Mar 18, 2008

Obviously, if there are three or four 4x5 tables, I'll retype the numbers.
The empty tables I referred to were humongous jobs of something like 15 columns and many, many lines.
I told the client: 1) look, I can type this, but who'll be to blame if I get the numbers wrong? 2) it'll take me forever.

With complex equations, if there aren't too many (4-5) I just may scan them and paste them in the target text, but that's only if I like the client and their price

With PDF scans it's easier, becasue you can just take a snapshot of the relevant bit and paste it into your translation.

Bottom line - do as much as you can for the client to earn brownie points, but nothing too labour intensive, unless they pay you - I would ask maybe 25% on top of the whole translation depending on the complexity of the formatting.


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:32
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Talk to your client Mar 18, 2008

I don't think your client would be all that enthusiastic about getting a bill for lots of hours for formatting if it hadn't been discussed in advance. In many cases, I've gotten out of these chores by pointing out to the client that word processing programs count numbers as words, so the client can save the charges for dozens of words if I simply say "see original for numbers" or something along those lines.

As for graphs, if you can't simply copy and paste, you should point out that not knowing exactly which software was used to create them, you can't be absolutely sure that the results are identical.

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