Charging for a summary
Thread poster: vauricchio

vauricchio  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 00:51
German to Italian
+ ...
Feb 11, 2012

Hi,

I work as freelance translator. A customer asked me to make a summary of 100 pages about taxation law (source language: english, summary target language: italian). It's the first time that I make an estimate for a summary, and I don'know how to make it. Can you help me?

Thank you in advance for your help!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:51
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Welcome to ProZ.com! Feb 12, 2012

Hello Vauricchio,

I don't feel qualified to answer your query as I've never done any summarising, but I can at least welcome you to the site: Welcome to ProZ.com and I hope you'll find lots here to interest you, even if you don't find an answer to your question.

As far as that question is concerned, I would definitely charge my normal hourly rate. I don't see how I could do anything else. But as for how long it might take, I have no idea.

One problem I can foresee is getting agreement about exactly what is required. A bit like proofreading (where I do have a lot of experience): do they want just the correction of identifiable errors, do they want non-native unnatural phrasing to be "naturalised" or do they want perfectly correct English to be changed so that the text has a more marketing, a more informal, or a more formal style? In your case, do they want a précis of each paragraph (say, about a third of the length of the original - I think that's what we did in my English studies), or simply an overview of what the text is about in a few lines?

This post will have put this thread back to the top of the list, Vauricchio, so hopefully someone who has experience will see it and help you out.

Sheila


 

Miranda Drew  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 00:51
Italian to English
charge per hour? Feb 12, 2012

I would try to estimate how many hours you think it would take you (to read the document, understand the document, and then do a summary). And I agree, you would have to get specifics of exactly what kind of summary they want.
However, personally, I would be wary of doing a summary of a legal document.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:51
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Not you Feb 12, 2012

vauricchio wrote:

Hi,

I work as freelance translator. A customer asked me to make a summary of 100 pages about taxation law (source language: english, summary target language: italian). It's the first time that I make an estimate for a summary, and I don'know how to make it. Can you help me?

Thank you in advance for your help!


Your client needs to write the summary. You're a translator.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:51
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Think you missed a bit, Tom Feb 12, 2012

Tom in London wrote:
vauricchio wrote:
(source language: english, summary target language: italian).

Your client needs to write the summary. You're a translator.


It was that bit in brackets that makes this a translator's job, Tomicon_smile.gif


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:51
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It's a good question. Feb 12, 2012

Welcome to Proz.com!

You seem to be raising a question that is not discussed very often.

I do summaries for one regular client, but in a very different subject area, as it is a magazine for supporters of a museum.

I reckon five or six hours for reducing between 3000 and 4000 words to a third or in practice perhaps a quarter, because my summaries are VERY compressed. You do not save a lot of time compared with translating, but of course you do save some.

Many years ago, I did technical abstracts, both English to English and a few German to English, and they seemed to take a staggering amount of time. But I do not remember how long, and I was paid a monthly salary at the time. Here I was skimming through the text, which might be a couple of thousand words or more, and writing an abstract that preferably was not to exceed 300 words or so.

You have to consult the client about what is needed, of course, and the more compact your summary, the longer it takes in practice!

I think the only reasonable way to charge is by the hour.

With proofreading, where I also find it very difficult to estimate in advance how long I will need, I always quote a maximum rate before I start, which I deliberately set high (1000 - 1500 words an hour, and rounded up.) Then I can reduce the final price a little, and even if it is not much, the client is pleased!

Best of luck!


 

Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:51
Spanish to English
+ ...
Thin ice Feb 12, 2012

Summarizing something can require a stronger knowledge of the subject than translating it; you have to make judgments about the importance of certain ideas, and skillfully subsume others under one overarching idea. Moreover, I personally would be very nervous about perhaps leaving out the exact point that my client was seeking information on.
A person with a solid knowledge of both legal systems might feel more capable of handling this, but my own best offer would be to abridge it -- translate it, while feeling to free to leave out obvious decorative verbiage and repeated standard phrases.


 

gad
United States
Local time: 18:51
Member
French to English
I don't do summaries Feb 12, 2012

Tom in London wrote:

Your client needs to write the summary. You're a translator.


I agree. I've been asked this before and I always refuse. "Oh, I just need a summary." OK, well how about I do so but still charge for the 100 pages?


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:51
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Summarising is not necesarily terrifying Feb 12, 2012

It's a job like proofreading and interpreting. I happily proofread for colleagues who know what they are doing, and I don't mind summarising, but I would hate interpreting. Mercifully there are others who feel differently!

My approach to a big document like that would be to find keywords and headings for the different areas covered by the text and write headlines. (Maybe simply using those already written into the legislation). I would probaby divide the document up and summarise it one part at a time, for instance, just picking the first ideas that come to mind in connection with tax:

tax on earned income,
tax on unearned income from various sources (listed),
car tax
tax on luxury goods
VAT
exemption from VAT

tax rebates and refunds
tax exemptions (lists of who and what qualifies)
...
...

without going into detail about the rules.

I would consult the client again, perhaps several times, because there might be areas of no paticular interest, where it would not be necessary to add more under those headlines.
Then I would concentrate on an analysis of areas important to the client.

Without seeing the document, I have no idea what I would do next, but it would take some time simply to read and analyse the content of 100 pages.

I'm not sure I would take on this particular job, but if you know enough about law and summarising, it is simply a matter of working systematically and taking the time you need.

Don't set your rate too low, and best of luck, vauricchio!


 

vauricchio  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 00:51
German to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I will contact the client for more details Feb 13, 2012

Hi,

thank you all for your help. Every suggestion I read here helped me to reflect about this task.

I think I will ask the customer which kind of summary wants (general or specific summary) and than I will calculate the estimate according to the work hours.
New suggestions are always welcome!

Thank you!


 


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