Wordcount turns out to be much higher than the amount on the PO
Thread poster: Sharon Sideris

Sharon Sideris  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:39
Member
German to English
+ ...
Aug 24, 2009

I have had this issue coming up a few times and wanted to get some input on it.

A few times I have been given a word count for a pdf that is much lower than what the final word count in Word turns out to be. I've mentioned this and then the agency has altered their PO, but sometimes they refuse, they say that was the budget, we can't go over it and you agreed to the job at that rate by accepting the PO - even though the job was misrepresented on the PO. I allow for 20% expansion from German into English but if it goes over that I really feel like I should be paid extra. Plus the fact is 1,000 words extra is at least an hour extra work, which affects my whole schedule then.

Just wondered what anyone else's experiences have been. My accountant has suggested withholding the job until I get a guarantee that I will be paid for the extra words, on the other hand I prefer a quiet life and don't really want to end up upsetting customers, possibly losing customers, or ending up having difficulty getting paid at all!


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:39
German to English
Not always possible to predict target word count Aug 24, 2009

There was a recent discussion regarding word count expansion going from German to English. If you're unlucky to get lists of parts, etc. the word count can't be reduced through any linguistic tricks.

Try negotiating a source word rate with your clients. In that way everyone will know what the final cost will be.


 

Riens Middelhof  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 10:39
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Some remarks: Aug 24, 2009

The only solution for the future seems to quote a bit higher than your original estimates.

Then... 1.000 words in one hour? That sounds like a new record to me...

[Edited at 2009-08-24 19:52 GMT]


 

Sharon Sideris  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:39
Member
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I guess they did think that was a source rate... Aug 24, 2009

because they said it was based on a scan of the original pdf. Obviously I have no problem with agreeing a source rate but it's obvious in this case the source rate was incorrect, because the target can't be thousands of words longer than the source, and I think that happens quite often with scanned pdfs.

 

Brian Young  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:39
Danish to English
wordcount- what to agree on Aug 24, 2009

I think this is an issue that we all face, so a policy should be put in place between you and those you work for. This is too important to be left to guesswork, or to be figured out after you have already done the job. After all, most of us get paid by the word.
I tell those I work for that I will charge by the wordcount in the final document, NOT the count in the source document, OR what they tell me the wordcount is. I am willing to make deductions if there are large amounts of text that can be repeated by a simple copy and paste. But otherwise, if I have to type it, then I want to get paid, or else they can find someone else. I am not hungry enough to work for free. NOBODY else does extra work for free.
Brian Young


 

Sharon Sideris  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:39
Member
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Brian! Aug 24, 2009

Your comments were really useful and have made me realize that I do need a firm policy on this upfront. As you say, I shouldn't be doing work for free.

This is not a major client so if I do end up disagreeing with them it is not a big problem, they do owe me money though and I am always nervous about getting into arguments with people who owe me money!


 

gad
United States
Local time: 04:39
Member
French to English
I've had this happen Aug 24, 2009

One agency quoted me a per-word rate based on a lower word count than what I came up with. I couldn't really do anything after the fact, of course. However, I noticed this more than once, so then I started to reply to them with the corrected word count, up front. When they came back with the story about the budget, like what happened to you, I told them that I had to then refuse the job. This happened probably a couple more times and of course eventually they stopped contacting me which is fine with me if they aren't going to pay me for the work I do. I wouldn't mind if it were a difference of someting like 30 words or whatever, but yeah once you get into 3-digit (or in your case, 4-digit) differences obviously that is unacceptable.

And Sharon, I understand completely that you want to be careful how you deal with a client who owes you money. In that case, perhaps you can tell a little while lie when/if you choose to decline a job - you would love to help by taking this job but an emergency that has come up, or you have another commitment that you had forgotten about, without getting into specifics. It's always of course better to be nice, pleasant and professional, to simply avoid confrontation.

HTH.:)


 

Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:39
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
Another option Aug 24, 2009

Some time ago I bought ABBY Fine Reader - whenever I receive a pdf which is a bitmap I use Fine Reader to convert it to Word - usually there are quite a few mistakes i recognition of words but it gives me rough idea of how many source words there are. If there is big discrepancy between what I see in Word and the PO (big means greater than 5-10% depending on the quality of the original) I discuss it with the client.

Best Regards
Stanislaw


 

Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:39
French to English
+ ...
Yes, use pdf converter Aug 24, 2009

Stanislaw Czech wrote:

Some time ago I bought ABBY Fine Reader - whenever I receive a pdf which is a bitmap I use Fine Reader to convert it to Word - usually there are quite a few mistakes i recognition of words but it gives me rough idea of how many source words there are. If there is big discrepancy between what I see in Word and the PO (big means greater than 5-10% depending on the quality of the original) I discuss it with the client.

Best Regards
Stanislaw


yes, I was just about to suggest this too. It's always worth running a pdf file through something like Abbyy to get an approximate source count and then multiply it by at least 20% to get a target count if that's what you're charging on. Otherwise, you could always suggest using a line count rather than word count, especially for German as then the count should be fairly similar for English and German.

I usually use target count for German, I must admit, and especially for pdf files as it's so hard to estimate. I find agencies can often "forget" text boxes and embedded tables in Word and Powerpoint documents too, so it's always worth doing a Complete word count to make sure they've been included in the original source count.

Claire


 

Sharon Sideris  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:39
Member
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
More good suggestions Aug 24, 2009

I think I am a bit too trusting of the agencies sometimes, I will bear that in mind and do my own conversion and word count in future too.

 

Susan Andrew
Local time: 09:39
Spanish to English
Target word count multiplied by X Aug 25, 2009

I have a client who often sends me pdf files in Spanish to be translated into Word files in English. He takes the end word count in English and mutiplies it by 1.15 to get a fairly accurate estimate of the original word count. Maybe you could suggest something along these lines - I'm not sure what the average difference is from Geman to English.

Hope this helps


 

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:39
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Average difference from German to English Aug 25, 2009

Susan Andrew wrote:

I have a client who often sends me pdf files in Spanish to be translated into Word files in English. He takes the end word count in English and mutiplies it by 1.15 to get a fairly accurate estimate of the original word count. Maybe you could suggest something along these lines - I'm not sure what the average difference is from Geman to English.

Hope this helps


The average difference is about 30%.


 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 11:39
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
I'd suggest a flat rate agreement Aug 26, 2009

For example, if the source is "on paper", i.e. some scanned docs, best to agree on a "flat rate" (amount for the whole job). Sometimes this flat rate will be to the side of the agency, sometimes to the translator. But I do not think this "variation" will be out of the scope of some 10 per cent (I think you should already have a good eye determining an app. word count even from "paper version"). And you will have everything clear. In any case, I'd always recheck the volumes/wordcounts because in certain cases the PM can also make an unintentious error. Best of all is to check and agree on everything before you start the project. Yes, it take some time, but usually much less time than takes the involvement into all these disputes later. Esp. after the agency makes a quote to their client and cannot increase the word count/payment for you.

[Edited at 2009-08-26 22:47 GMT]


 

Cathy Flick  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:39
Member (2003)
Russian to English
+ ...
always check the word count Aug 27, 2009

Always check the word count yourself, manually or by ocr for hardcopy/pdf.

Some project managers are very good at estimating word counts, others are not. Even the good ones can overlook something. For instance, one job was estimated terribly low because they didn't include one of the larger documents -- fortunately, I checked the count myself and discovered the error before starting, so I could confirm with the PM first.

One big agency was always underestimating word counts and then pleading for discounts after receiving my invoice. I learned to not only check their word counts - but to get everything engraved in stone on their purchase order before starting (yes, those stone tablets are harder to fax!). Once they understimated by a factor of two...

When negotiating a job, I never let their count be the basis. If they want a source basis, then I have to run any hardcopy through ocr first and decide on the flat fee or cap on the fee on that basis. I know how the source/target word counts compare (that may vary in other areas or for other writing styles), so for my language pairs -- I can set a cap safely on that basis. But the relationship between source words and target words just isn't as definite. For Russian and German source, on a word count basis I've seen expansions as high as 50% when translating into English and as low as practically 0%.

For me, the source character count is the upper limit for the final English character count when the source is French, German, Spanish, or Italian. The Russian character count may be as much as 15% higher than the final English character count. But I recommend keeping track in a spreadsheet for a while to see how character and word counts compare for your languages and your subject areas/writing style.

Peace, Cathy Flick

Ph.D. Chemical Physics/M.A. Physics/B.S. Chemistry
Scientific Translator since 1978
Russian/French/German/Spanish/Italian into US English


 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Wordcount turns out to be much higher than the amount on the PO

Advanced search







Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search