How Much Should I Charge for a 90 thousand word Document?
Thread poster: drx1

Local time: 23:26
Aug 26, 2011

I have translated just a few documents for that company before, of about 5 to 10 thousands words. I am more or less familiarized with the language now. I charge them 1.2 minus a super special discount 0.25%, then MX $ 0.9 ( about 0.07 dollars per word)

This time it is huge document, that has almost 500 pages. (a book!).

I used msword to count the words, and it counts words, numbers, repeated words, etc. Total= 90k words

If I do the math, 90k words = 81000 pesos. How much should I charge, I feel like giving them a lower price per word. MX 1.2 - 40% due to volumen = 0.72 x 90K = 64800 pesos.

Am I over/undercharging?

[Edited at 2011-08-26 05:02 GMT]


Local time: 23:26
Some extra information/questions Aug 26, 2011

1. Is the counting of the words by mswords what translators use? even counting repeated words? if not, What can I use to count, instead of msword?

1. It is highly technical (mechanical engineering) from Spanish to English

Thanks for your support

[Edited at 2011-08-26 05:03 GMT]


Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:26
English to German
In my opinion Aug 26, 2011

it is okay to use mswords for counting, although there maybe better tools around (e.g. anycount). If you grant the customer a discount of 0.25% already, I think it is enough for them and you should go ahead with a regular offer.

By the way, how much time do you have for this translation (I'm just curious, because the largest volumes I have translated so far are approx. 30k to 40 k words)?

And congratulations for such an order!



Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:26
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
1. Wordfast, 2. 0.25% ? Aug 26, 2011

!. You could use Wordfast (Classic) for counting the words, without paying for a Wordfast licence. Its counting method is probably more relevant than that of MS Word because it "knows" more about what a translator considers to be a word. Example: I made a Word document containing this:
"A test for word-counting by wordfast
How many 1 2 3 4 in this line?
It's a question of apostrophes also"

MS Word says it contains 21 words, or 22 if I replace the "-" with a space.
Wordfast says it contains 23 words because it counts "word-counting" as 2 words, and "It's" as 2 words. Each of them counts "1 2 3 4" as 4 words.

2. Do you really mean 0.25% (i.e. 1 in 400)? I think you probably mean 25% (i.e. one quarter).



José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:26
English to Portuguese
+ ...
IMO it depends on the deadline Aug 26, 2011

I don't give discounts strictly based on quantity. Translation is not like, say, a conventional offset printer, where once you've "wasted" time and resources to get it finely adjusted and running, from a certain point on, the cost per copy becomes just a split nibble over the cost of paper + ink + power. However I do give repeated segments for free on jobs beyond 5,000 words.

There is only so much you can produce per day, and every translator should have a clear idea on that quantity. I've come to the conclusion that I can certainly translate 3,000 words per day, however my peak yield so far has been 9,000 in one day.

To keep a healthy business is a balancing act. So I'll unhesitatingly commit to 3,000 words/day on my standard terms. If anyone has a rush job and is willing to pay a premium price for the speed, I know I have some spare production capacity to serve them. If they don't show up on any particular day, my standard jobs will be delivered earlier, and these clients will be happier.

On the other hand, some clients may have huge jobs and a somewhat more limited budget. So if they can give me a longer time span to deliver it, I can use that job to occupy ALL 'unsold' time slots, whatever category they are in, and therefore make otherwise idle time profitable, giving them a lower rate. If any normal- or premium-rate job comes up, I'll have time to set that cheaper job aside for later, and thus balance my income.

The same applies to payment terms and the translator's cash flow. At standard rates, clients paying up-front, COD, or on a shorter-term may get a head start relative to standard-paying ones. Those jobs offering longer payment terms may be put aside while the others get done first.

One key in this balancing act lies in what I'm calling "managed availability". One should be able to limit the time they commit to lower- and later-paying jobs. The worst thing that may happen to a translator is having to burn the midnight oil on a low-rate quick-turnaround job to be paid in, say, 45 days from delivery, while being forced to turn down a premium-paying COD urgent job after having oversold their production capacity.

I have been performing this balancing act intuitively, yet never missed a deadline so far. However I'm studying these variables to check if there is any way to make the process less intuitive.


Local time: 23:26
Thank you very much, clear answers Aug 26, 2011

I am very grateful, your responses have helped me better understand what to do in these cases.

Annett, I was not sure how much to charge. Hopefully they will agree. I was wondering if I was undercharging, or if they have really liked my work, I prefer to think it is the latter, since they are asking me to do this job. I think it will take me about 4 weeks.

José did make think of the timing, managing availability, and of course the value of our work.

I will certainly try Wordfast, Oliver. I meant I originally gave them a 25% discount, and as Annett suggests, I will take it into account as the regular offer.


Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:26
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
another issue Aug 26, 2011

I think that the rate you agree for the job is important and probably it would be a good idea to give them a small discount (and start using a CAT tool too - even if just for concordance).

But as translation is going to take you considerable time it is also important that you try to agree some milestones rather than 1 payment after completion of the entire job.

Good luck!


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:26
German to English
Already heavily discounted Aug 26, 2011

Unless this document has a lot of repetitions (e.g. Switch power on, Switch power off, etc.), you have little to gain from offering a discount. For every word you're translating at MX $.09/word, you're missing the opportunity to translate at a rate of MX $.12/word.

If this document is in hard copy (printed, not in electronic format such as MS Word), there's no reason to offer a discount at all, as it's difficult to leverage earlier work on the document as you progress without using a translation memory tool (CAT software). The best you do is cut and paste from a list of frequently used phrases, which provides no time savings at all.


LegalTranslatr2  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:26
Portuguese to English
+ ...
90,000 words Aug 26, 2011

In my opinion, your rate of .07 per word is already 50% under what it should be, so I certainly would not grant any further discount. A large job like that will be more work and not less, plus you may have to turn away some of your other clients. I would not touch it for less than .14 a word (for an agency) or .20 a word if this is a direct client. I know that some translators are "afraid" when they start seeing big numbers, but remember that agencies typically bill clients .25 - .40 a word. You are charging .07 a word and they are selling your translations for .25 a word.

It makes absolutely no sense in this world to translate Spanish for .07 a word when there are many clients out there who are ready and willing to pay .20 - .40 a word.

RE: Your question "Am I overcharging?" Not even close.

[Edited at 2011-08-26 15:46 GMT]


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