How proofreaders charge?
Thread poster: Esther Dodo

Esther Dodo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:51
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
Jul 18, 2014

Should proofreaders charge by word, page or anything else?
I was called to proofread a translation done by another person and I don't have any idea how to charge. Please help me!!


Teresa Borges
Local time: 08:51
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I charge preferably Jul 18, 2014

per hour but also per word at half my translation rate


Octavio Armendariz  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:51
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
Charge per word or hour Jul 18, 2014

I would take the number of words that you usually translate in an word and multiply it by 300 depending on the standardized number of words in a page e.g. if you per word rate is USD 0.10 and there are 300 words per page, you would get $30 per hour. The agencies I work with have come up with standardized number of words read in an hour which is usually 1,500 words per hour.

If you are going charge per source word read, I concur with the previous poster that half your translation rate per word is a good idea.

[Edited at 2014-07-18 21:15 GMT]


Octavio Armendariz  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:51
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
Charging per target word Jul 18, 2014

I just realized that you translate in to Portuguese which is more wordy than English. It is better if you charge per target word in your case or by the hour.


Paul Stevens  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:51
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Per hour Jul 19, 2014

Because you often don't see the translation when offered a proofreading job as it hasn't yet been completed, I always charge per hour since the quality of the translation is going to be an unknown factor and hence the time that a particular proofreading job may take will vary considerably if the translation is of good quality compared to one of bad quality.


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:51
Russian to English
+ ...
I would not recommend charging by the hour Jul 19, 2014

This causes a lot of problems, based on my experience. The client may expect you to work twice or three times as fast. I think the best way is to charge by word--about 1/3 to 1/2 of your regular translation rate.


Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 02:51
German to English
+ ...
charge per hour, after preliminary assessment Jul 19, 2014

A per hour charge is the only fair way to go, because a badly translated text will take much longer than a well translated text with the same word count. But before doing that, you should look through the material and come up with an estimate of how long it will take you, and therefore, what your final charge will probably be. If it is very badly translated, I advise my clients that it would be cheaper to retranslate from scratch.

I will quote a fee based on my estimate that is slightly on the high side, and if it takes me less time, I will lower my final fee. If it takes me longer, then that is my loss and the client's gain. Generally clients are happy with that policy.

[Edited at 2014-07-19 09:24 GMT]


Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:51
Japanese to English
+ ...
It depends Jul 19, 2014

Charging by the hour is the most fair for both parties. However, it requires a certain level of trust between proofreader and client in order to be effective.

For clients you haven't worked with before or are not on the best of terms with, charging by the word may be the better option.

By the way, I am assuming that by "proofreading" you mean reviewing a monolingual text for spelling, grammatical, and punctuation mistakes, and sometimes a slight reordering of a sentence for clarity. If you actually mean a bilingual review of a translation, checking for correct terminology and accuracy of meaning, then that is better called "editing" and should probably never be charged by the word, because that's a good way to get some PEMT dumped on your lap by surprise.


Rafal Kwiatkowski
United States
Local time: 03:51
English to Polish
+ ...
London proofreading rates Jul 19, 2014

The companies that I have worked with in London for English to Polish jobs, would allocate 1K words per hour. In CAT jobs, that often means completely skewed word count. Don't ever let anyone tell you that what they approved as a 100% match is always error-free. Because if it isn't - guess who gets the blame.

So overall, for non-CAT jobs 1000 words per hour is a good and generous allocation. For CAT work, try to agree on a detailed % breakdown and convince them that the "perfect matches" should be included - even if it is a rate of 10%. You definitely don't want to work for someone who gives you a CAT project with 300 new words which is in total 7000 words and they want to pay for half an hour - I had that happen to me last week.



Georgia Morgan  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:51
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
By word Jul 19, 2014

I am surprised that some of you would charge 50% of your translation rate. It takes me a LOT more time to translate than to proof-read and I would charge no more than 25%.


Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:51
English to French
All words are proofread Jul 19, 2014

Rafal Kwiatkowski wrote:
For CAT work, try to agree on a detailed % breakdown and convince them that the "perfect matches" should be included - even if it is a rate of 10%. You definitely don't want to work for someone who gives you a CAT project with 300 new words which is in total 7000 words and they want to pay for half an hour - I had that happen to me last week.

I don't get this reasoning. There seems to be a lot of superstition around "weighted words". Maybe because it's math.

Proofreading* "weighted" words is an heresy. And agencies offering to proofread weighted words don't know what they talk about. Or can't be bothered.

Either I proofread all words in a text or none. I don't proofread weighted words. "Weighted words" don't exist in reality, they are a mathematical "object" (a product of two "matrices").

If a segment is paid half less (ie 50% discount) to TRANSLATE, it should mean that it takes you half the time to translate it, because the TM will spit out a translation similar to what you will write. So if you're not a turkey, you save AT LEAST half of your time translating this segment. THIS IS WHAT DISCOUNTS ARE ABOUT and why they have been put into force originally. There is no magic in this.
Then some people tried to see how far they could go with the concept: 70% of full rate for the 50-74% band, 5% for 100% matches... And it worked!
Just remember that if a segment is paid 10% of your full rate (for instance repetitions for some agencies), it means that you almost have no time to even reread it.

On this basis, if a segment is paid half less to PROOFREAD, do you proofread it twice as fast or do you proofread/etc. only half the words? The TM has no impact whatsoever on proofreading productivity, so this weighted-word business in proofreading is utter BS, pardon my French.

The underlying "logic" behind offering weighted words to proofread is that agencies "work out" that proofreading/etc. adds 25-30-whatever % to the cost of translation. As translation is paid on a weighted-word basis, proofreading is therefore worth whatever percentage of weighted words. Sure.
But as long as they find translators who proofread at a fraction of their normal fee without understanding why it took them so long, why not carry on?

As regards editing productivity, 1000 (real) words / hour is commonly admitted. Or about 3/4 times as fast as translation. Or a third/quarter of per-word rate for translation. Of course this only applies to a translation done by a real and skilled translator working in their specialty.

I charge by the hour, so that agencies who select proper translators are rewarded, and those who don't are fined. Since I have been charging by the hour, I see far less rubbish and it suits me perfectly.


*Let's assume that proofread=edit=review.


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:51
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
The myth of matches in proofreading Jul 20, 2014

Many translators are so used to being asked for discounts for any possible matches, that this "matches-idea" is automatically transfered over to the revision services.

Frankly spoken, if you offer a discount for any matches in the text to be proofread, you are - though perhaps unknowingly - offering to proofread only the no-matches, automatically resulting in: no proofreading of matches. After all, no payment for no work. (I know, most translators don't do this and proofread even unpaid words/paras/segments anyway.)

When it comes to outlining the difference between translations and proofreading / editing, one of the words I use in my webinar is the German word "Taube", or perhaps the word "Schloss". If both words appear several times within a given text, proofreading them might not be required? (After all, matches are to be done pro bono.) Well, the difference between "pigeon" and "dove" might not be too extreme (to some), but what about "castle" and "lock"?

Accepting a proofreading job that includes non-payment for repetitions/matches basically means 2 things, 1. you are possibly overlooking severe mistakes, and (if you don't) 2. you are offering part of your service for free.

IMO any type of revision should be paid per hour. This way you will do your usual great job and... even get paid for it.

[Edited at 2014-07-20 13:44 GMT]


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