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Words per hour?
Thread poster: MK2010

MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:55
French to English
+ ...
Mar 29, 2016

I wasn't sure where to post this, but I'm interested in knowing what most professional translators consider a decent wph. The rate varies, obviously, depending on the kind of material, the difficulty of the material within said category, and the tools you may or may not use, but yeah, I would be very interested in hearing from different folks here, with all the above-mentioned details.

What is a good translation day for you? How many hours of work, how many words?

Cheers!


 

Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:55
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
+ ...
400-1200 Mar 29, 2016

It definitely varies a lot, but I count on a minimum of around 400 words per hour when quoting jobs and this usually works out. In a subject I'm familiar with, I often end up at more like 600 words per hour, and in some cases, for straightforward texts from clients who I have translated tens of thousands of words for, I will sometimes translate 1000-1200 new words in an hour.

I try not to translate more than six hours per day, and I take a five minute break every half hour to rest my eyes, move my body, clear my mind, etc. If I don't, I notice the quality plummets as I make more typos, translation errors, etc.

Hope this helps!


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:55
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Generally with Tim Mar 29, 2016

Of course, as MK has noted, output will depend on the kind of material and, I hasten to note, any formatting requirements (i.e., creation of tables, rekeying of endless series of numbers, etc., for these are the kinds of things that I find really slow me down).

If I am quoting on a job involving material within my comfort zone with a short turnaround, and no or minimal formatting requirements are involved, I can safely count on being able to translate 800 words per hour. Like Tim, I can also exceed 1000 words per hour, but this really is flying, and I can't maintain such a pace for more than 3-5 hours.

For larger jobs, I think of my per-day limit as around 5000-6000 (which, for a rush job involving same-day turnaround, I can increase to 8000-10,000 (i.e., extending my day to 10-12 hours or more, and knowing that I will probably get to rest the next day).

I'm generally content with this output, but I've also seen postings in which translators claim productivity of 15,000 words a day or more, which make me feel like a bit of a slowpoke....

[Edited at 2016-03-29 15:26 GMT]


 

MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:55
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
15K words a day?? Mar 29, 2016

Robert Forstag wrote:
I'm generally content with this output, but I've also seen postings in which translators claim productivity of 15,000 words a day or more, which make me feel like a bit of a slowpoke....

[Edited at 2016-03-29 15:26 GMT]


Now that's just crazy. As for your 8-10K / day, that's pretty impressive. I think around 6K has been my max so far.

Thanks for the responses so far. I like hearing about how other translators work.

And @ Tim: the break every half hour is a very good habit to integrate into your work routine. I need to do that.


 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 23:55
German to English
+ ...
Does that included the whole translation process? Mar 29, 2016

We are not typists who peck away at a continuous flow. When translating any project, here are the activities that typically go into the job:

- initial contact with client finding out their needs, telling them how you work (if new), asking and answering questions; examine the document before accepting it
- set up the project: a file name, a place to park the source document, invoicing, maybe research material
- preliminary research or questions to client after more study of document, possible research or consultation with specialists in some areas (depending)
- the actual translation where you are typing "x words per hour"
- upon completion, thorough proofreading of both translation accuracy (has everything been rendered without omission, distortion, etc.), and language quality of the target language
- submission of translation and invoice to client, with invitation of feedback or questions

In factoring in how long any project will probably take me, all these steps have to be put into the equation, with room left over for unexpected glitches that may happen.

Potential clients sometimes ask me my wph. Usually these are agencies who want to hire me on for "future collaboration". Any figure I give them would be useless, because of other projects I may be working on at any time. For myself I have a ballpark figure which helps me estimate how long a given project may take me, in order to promise a doable turnaround time.


 

Jan Truper
Germany
Local time: 06:55
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
400–500 (new) words per hour Mar 30, 2016

That's pretty much what I aim for. I can and will occasionally do more, but I don't like it. The texts I work with tend to be on the creative side, and I do better work when I'm relaxed and when I can afford to go down the "synonym vortex", as I call it, in order to find the best linguistic solutions.

I once did ten 6k-word-days in a row and vowed to never do it again.
When I do more than 7k in a day, my productivity on the following day will suffer significantly, so the actual wph count goes down.

The beauty of freelancing:
I take about three power naps a day and try to do sports in between, so my work day will stretch over 10–14 hours.

Work to work another dayicon_smile.gif


 

Stepan Konev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 07:55
English to Russian
250-300 wph Mar 30, 2016

3K new words per day as a maximum. At a grater rate, English to Russian translation may be not usable.

 

Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:55
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Seconded Mar 30, 2016

Stepan Konev wrote:

250-300 wph

3K new words per day as a maximum. At a grater rate, English to Russian translation may be not usable.


I use a page per hour (325-350 words) as the basis for all my quotes, with a maximum of 6 hours of translation work a day. The other 2 hours are used for estimates, admin, emails and so on.

We are not typists.

[Edited at 2016-03-30 07:31 GMT]


 

PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:55
English to Polish
+ ...
How is this information useful? Mar 30, 2016

Not trying to be mean, but doesn't everyone work at their own pace?

My numbers are similar to most others here, but then, work habits differ. I have a tendency to want to translate the whole text first, even if I know that some sentences I have just written (even as I am writing them) are pretty atroshus. I highlight these.
Then, when I have the mental comfort of having "done the job", I go back to read and reread the text. Sometimes, the rough parts take me forever to figure out.
I wouldn't know how to include this time in the wph count.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:55
English to Polish
+ ...
... Mar 30, 2016

I could theoretically get close to 1.5K per hour if focusing on speed, but then there's editing and revision to do, which is always going to take some time, and probably more time if the translation was hurried, so it doesn't make so much sense. Somewhere between 750 words and 1K is more comfortable, in a familiar field and/or with a simpler text. It can be as low as 350 words or so if I end up translating something that's extremely demanding.

PL-EN usually goes faster than EN-PL due to the lack of inflection and consequently much less agreement to take care of when you first write a sentence or when you recast it later. However, PL-EN sometimes makes up for this speed gain in other areas.

It's possible for me to pull off something like 7.5K in 8 hours (or 20K in 16 hours), but it's taxing, and I'd normally prefer to take a break at some point. I may be fast, but we shouldn't need to hurry so much just to make a decent living, let alone sacrifice our evenings, or nights, or Saturdays. This is one of the reasons I almost always insist on rush fees and on not allowing a client or agency to use my theoretical speed or greater proficiency with this or that or any other professional asset as argument for a lower rate for the client. If I can translate faster than most people, I should be paid extra, not paid less. It's already enough that I simply charge rush fees and not premium fees for even making the speed possible.

[Edited at 2016-03-30 13:42 GMT]


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
300 an hour/3000 a day Mar 30, 2016

"Depends on the text", "I can do much more", "I do much less"

Come on, let's be reasonable. We're all humans, right?

"Depends on the text": its doesn't, because mostly we all accept texts we are proficient in and feel comfortable with. If you only can do 100 words an hour, you accepted the wrong text.

"I can do much more": you cannot, not on a regular basis (I, too, have translated 5000 words a day, but was completely bushed and had to recover next day (did less next day)).

"I do much less": unacceptable and unsustainable. One of the two, you lack skills or you accept "wrong" texts (wrong texts for you).

300 an hour/3000 a day is the answer



[Edited at 2016-03-30 13:52 GMT]


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:55
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
A matter of leveraging Mar 30, 2016

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:
If I can translate faster than most people, I should be paid extra, not paid less. It's already enough that I simply charge rush fees and not premium fees for even making the speed possible.

[Edited at 2016-03-30 13:42 GMT]


I don't view it as a matter of being paid "more" or "less" but of leveraging the fact that I can work quickly as one of the factors that comes into play in negotiating a rate for a project.

Thus, knowing that within certain fields and in the absence of significant formatting requirements, I can count on a daily output of at least 6000 words of quality work without killing myself, I am able to offer a fairly modest rate and still earn a decent amount from the job as compared to someone who can only manage, say, 3000 words a day.



[Edited at 2016-03-30 16:01 GMT]


 

MK2010  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:55
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Interesting answers, thanks Mar 30, 2016

My thoughts:

-I think 3K a day is probably a good batting average.

-If you can translate those 3K faster than others, regardless of whether you figure that allows you to charge more or less, at the very least, you are likely to get more work as a result of your speed: say you have a client who has 30 articles he needs translated by a set date, which he is dividing up among a handful of translators. If translator A is faster than translator B, then A can ask for a bigger part of the workload and thus make more money.

-Of course speed depends on the text. Not just because of the level of difficulty, but because of the amount of research involved. Say you have a fairly straightforward text with easy language, but it includes a lot of names of places like islands and mountains you're not familiar with, which you are going to verify one by one to make sure you have the correct spelling in the target language. That takes research and research takes time, and that slows down your wph on that given text. And of course things like formatting matter also, as mentioned in several posts, since they also slow you down.


[Edited at 2016-03-30 14:44 GMT]


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:55
Member (2008)
Italian to English
About 3000 Mar 30, 2016

MK2010 wrote:


I wasn't sure where to post this, but I'm interested in knowing what most professional translators consider a decent wph. The rate varies, obviously, depending on the kind of material, the difficulty of the material within said category, and the tools you may or may not use, but yeah, I would be very interested in hearing from different folks here, with all the above-mentioned details.

What is a good translation day for you? How many hours of work, how many words?

Cheers!



My usual rate of 3000 words/day for an 8-hour working day works out at about 350-400 an hour but I don't translate consecutively. That number includes all the time I spend researching terminology, writing and rewriting, polishing, revising etc.

If you asked me to sit down and start translating, that doesn't mean that one hour later I would give you 350-400 words of a finished and perfectly honed translation.

That isn't how translation worksicon_smile.gif

[later that same day]

Since I started using dictation, I think I go faster with discursive texts. I just read in one language and speak in other, and out it comes neatly typed with no typos. I used to make lots of typos when writing by hand, which slowed me down considerably.

[Edited at 2016-03-30 16:20 GMT]


 

Jasmina
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:55
Italian to English
For me, 300-400 words per hour Apr 1, 2016

This takes into account the hours when I translate 10 words due to having to research a difficult term/phrase, or just taking time for general research into the subject, and mulling over the text in order to improve my work. In another hour I may translate 1,200 words. I track my progress continuously and it always seems to work out at an average of 300-400 words per hour, which I'm happy with.

 
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