Proofreading fees
Thread poster: Anna Parish

Anna Parish  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:36
English to Russian
Aug 7, 2013

Hi, was just asked to give a quote for a proofreading job. I haven't done much proofreading in the past, mainly translations, so not sure what the current average rates are. The language pair is English - Russian, not sure if there are any differences depending on the language. Any advice would be appreciated. Many thanks!

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Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:36
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
Charge an hourly rate Aug 7, 2013

You should charge an hourly rate for this type of job. Since no two texts are alike, it is impossible to determine a "one-size-fits-all" rate for proofreading. Some texts contain few errors and can be proofread quickly. Others are more complex and take a lot more time. So you should really charge by the hour.

Also, do no confuse proofreading with copy editing, which is different and way more time-consuming.


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amanda solymosi  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 14:36
Hungarian to English
+ ...
percentage rate Aug 7, 2013

Safer and probably more realistic to ask for (say 20 percent) a percentage rate of the translators fee.

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Tatsiana Ihnatsyeva  Identity Verified
Belarus
Local time: 15:36
Member (2012)
English to Russian
+ ...
It's best to do calculations on the basis of your average translation earnings per hour Aug 7, 2013

First of all, I would advise to make sure that what the customer really wants is a proofreading job (grammar, syntax, spelling) and not editing (the same + terminology and style, and they may ask for comments on all these).

Proofreading is normally counted in either words or hours.

With words, you can charge some 20% of your translation per word rate. If you proofread 5 pages per hour on average, you get your hourly earnings as usual.

With hours, you apply the same principle. You take the number of pages you can proofread in one hour (let us guess this time you can do 8 per hour) and divide the number of pages in your job offer by 8 pages and get the number of hours to quote, and then charge as much per hour as you would earn if you did an hour of translation job.

Have a good proofreading time!


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 20:36
Chinese to English
Must see the translation first Aug 8, 2013

Insist on looking at the document to be proofread before accepting or declining. If the translation is bad, it can take longer to fix than it would to translate. Don't get caught out doing a translator's job for a proofreader's fee!

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Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:36
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
It can take longer to fix Aug 8, 2013

Proofreading is NOT fixing- it is only pointing out errors of spelling, grammar, syntax. Fixing is editing, and charge for editing is not the same as for proofreading. I would ask to see text before editing, and price would depend on whether text needs to be re-translated anew, in which case I will inform client first, but I make this clear before, when submitting quote. For proofreading, I saw in many posts that normally, charge is 1/3 of price quoted for translating, be it per hour, which is preferable, or per word.

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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:36
English
+ ...
Definitely see the text first before quoting a price. Aug 8, 2013

As Phil and others have said, you need to see the text first to determine whether it is proofreading or editing (or rewriting or re-translating) that is required.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have been asked to "proofread" a text that required extensive editing.

As Tatsiana Ihnatsyeva wrote:

First of all, I would advise to make sure that what the customer really wants is a proofreading job (grammar, syntax, spelling) and not editing (the same + terminology and style, and they may ask for comments on all these).


As Josephine said:

Proofreading is NOT fixing- it is only pointing out errors of spelling, grammar, syntax. Fixing is editing, and charge for editing is not the same as for proofreading.


On my profile page I explain in more detail the difference between proofreading and the various levels of editing.

Good luck!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:36
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
This is "bilingual proofreading" Aug 8, 2013

Tatsiana Ihnatsyeva wrote:
First of all, I would advise to make sure that what the customer really wants is a proofreading job (grammar, syntax, spelling) and not editing (the same + terminology and style, and they may ask for comments on all these).

I agree that proofreading should be a fairly minor polishing of the text: spelling (although nowadays it should have been spell-checked to remove a good part of the errors), typos (form/from etc), punctuation, consistency (eg US vs UK for English), and minor grammar slips. I wouldn't regard sentence rewrites as minor grammar slips, they're major, but sometimes the writer changes a subject and forgets to change the verb to agree, etc. You really don't have to charge much per word for that type of proofreading if the copy is good.

But, and it's a BIG BUT, this is bilingual proofreading of a translation that the OP has been asked to quote for, I believe. It really should have a different name, but I doubt that's going to happen. I don't do much of it, because constantly refocusing between the texts makes me feel sick, but I've always been expected to check carefully between the two texts. I've needed to check for omissions and additions and terminology choice, that style and register are suitable...as well as the proofreading tasks above. That can never be very fast as, even with a very good translation, there's a lot to check.

As for quoting, I agree with those who say all you can do before seeing the text is give your hourly rate (which is, of course, the same as your translation per-word rate multiplied by the number of words you can translate in an hour). But I've never had a client who's accepted not knowing whether they would be charged for 2 hours or 22 hours (and nor would I). So, I examine a few paragraphs carefully, from different points in the text (quality often deteriorates) and then quote. I give a per-word rate if the client prefers it, or I say it will cost a maximum of, say, 5 hours' work, but I'll charge less if it takes less time. That normally works out cheaper for the client as I have to quote high per word, just in case I hit problems (maybe a long section that the translator clearly didn't understand). Given some flexibility in invoicing, I often only invoice about two-thirds of my maximum. That makes for a happy client, who thinks s/he's getting a discount!

Of course, I've seen the text before quoting, so if turns out to be horrible and takes much longer, that's my fault. I can't charge more than my per-word rate or my maximum number of hours.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:36
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Your best bet Aug 8, 2013

Whether the text you are about to accept is a genuine proof-reading or much rather an editing assignment, you are always on the safe side when you quote your hourly rate. This applies even when the translation happens to be on the "poorer" end of the quality scale.

You know how much an hour of your (business) time is worth, regardless of what you spend it with/for.


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Mark Cole  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:36
Polish to English
+ ...
Rule of one-thirds Aug 8, 2013

Hi Anna,

I agree with the above advice. Whenever I am asked to do proof-reading they never mean proof-reading literally, but also correction of errors, improvements in style, etc.

So I would ask to have a look first and see what they're after - if it's a contract, for example, accuracy is paramount, and style less important so long as everything is clearly understandable.

As a rule of thumb I charge at least one-third of my translation rate per thousand words for this kind of work.

It's safer to stick to an hourly rate (I usually quote one hour per thousand words) but warn them that it may take longer if it's a terrible translation (using more tactful terms than that though).

Mark


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Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:36
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
Make sure they understand what proofreading entails Aug 9, 2013

I would be sure to let them know what exactly you will be doing and not doing when taking on proofreading assignments.

Sometimes customers get editing and proofreading confused. Sometimes they also think that they can pay only for the amount of changes that were made.

Also, if it is a new individual client I would ask for a partial payment ahead of time.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:36
English to German
+ ...
be careful Aug 9, 2013

Phil Hand wrote:

Insist on looking at the document to be proofread before accepting or declining. If the translation is bad, it can take longer to fix than it would to translate. Don't get caught out doing a translator's job for a proofreader's fee!


Insist on seeing the original and the translation. It won't help you if all you see is the translation and if the translation is bad. Then figure how long it would take you if you need/want to quote an hourly rate. For a per word charge, I suggest to charge at least half of what you would charge for the translation. If the translation is bad, I don't accept the job. You could suggest to do a new translation for a translation rate. Don't get caught up in fixing the impossible for an unacceptable rate.

I don't agree with charging a small fee for proofreading a "good" translation. You still need to compare the text with the original and you have to read and evaluate every single sentence.

[Edited at 2013-08-09 06:57 GMT]


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:36
English to German
+ ...
tricks of the trade Aug 9, 2013

Sarah McDowell wrote:

I would be sure to let them know what exactly you will be doing and not doing when taking on proofreading assignments.

Sometimes customers get editing and proofreading confused. Sometimes they also think that they can pay only for the amount of changes that were made.

Also, if it is a new individual client I would ask for a partial payment ahead of time.


I agree. And you don't want to proofread something someone has translated for USD, .05/word and be expected to work for a similar or even lower rate and the agency charges the end client much more.


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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:36
English
+ ...
Suggested rates Aug 9, 2013

For the UK, from the The Society for Editors and Proofreaders:
http://www.sfep.org.uk/pub/mship/minimum_rates.asp

For the US, from the Editorial Freelancers Association:
http://the-efa.org/res/rates.php

I think something Nicole Schnelle wrote in a previous forum thread (http://www.proz.com/forum/getting_established/243055-should_i_give_my_rates_when_contacting_agencies.html#2092984) might also be useful:

"You should never determine any rate before you have seen the source text because you are neither a copy shop that charges flat fees per printed page, nor a fast food place where identical hamburgers are always 99 cent.

You can, however, give them an idea of your price range. For example: 'My rates start at XXXXX for non-specialist source texts in good quality. The final rate will be determined after viewing the text according to its complexity and specialization and after estimating the time needed for research.' Or something similar."


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