Discrepancy in word count between (probably different) versions of Word
Thread poster: Bente_F

Bente_F  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:24
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
May 15

Recently, I've had a few scuffles with a client about differences in their word count as opposed to mine. The problem is, my version of Word (2007) comes out with a higher word count than theirs (version unknown), so they complain. In this latest instance their word count is 3717 words, whereas mine comes out at 3782 words (3762 if I remove the tick in the box 'include text boxes etc'). At other times it's been a few words, maybe 7 or 10 or so.

I have NO idea why this happens, but it's a real nuisance, because it now seems we have to bombard each other with screen dumps of word counts each time before finally ending up with an agreement. I'm *thinking* it may have to do with different versions of Word, but I'm at my wit's end at suddenly having to debate this with them each time, even after 15+ years of mutually satisfactory collaboration. I would really like to be able to point out to them exactly WHY it happens, so they don't think it's something I do to cheat them out of a few extra pennies on each job. If my word count is too high, obviously it should be lowered, but on the other hand I don't want to be underpaid for some odd counting reason.

Has anybody been up against the same problem and discovered the reason for it?

Best wishes,

Bente


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:24
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I've had the same problem May 15

I had exactly the same problem as you, Bente, but only with one particular agency, never with any others. It became so unpleasant that I eventually decided to cease working with that person.
I never found out the reason for the apparent discrepancy but, because of the agency's general penny-pinching attitude to every job it offered me, always haggling, trying to reduce the per-word rate or the word-count in one way or another, I suspect it was a ploy - as you say - to save a few euros on each job.


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 00:24
Romanian to English
+ ...
Yes, May 15

Very often, my partner and I receive pdf. from the client. When we convert, most of the times the numbers are way off. Each of us (client, translator, editor) came with a different set of numbers. Thank God, we never had a problem with the client because he accepts the highest number of words. Why the difference? Have no idea.

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Bente_F  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:24
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No, not a ploy May 15

I don't think this is a ploy, it's not an agency but a direct client. It's simply a discrepancy somewhere in Word that's causing a lot of annoyance on both sides.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
No idea why but... May 15

That's not much of a difference. Why not just soak it up?

That said, I'd stop working with them. I've never had a direct client who doesn't just pay what I ask quite willingly. I don't think they understand or care how I calculate my prices; they just take it on trust. I don't question my plumber's charges and I wouldn't expect anyone to question mine!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:24
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Demonstrate with yet another word count? May 15

Bente_F wrote:
I would really like to be able to point out to them exactly WHY it happens, so they don't think it's something I do to cheat them out of a few extra pennies on each job. If my word count is too high, obviously it should be lowered, but on the other hand I don't want to be underpaid for some odd counting reason.

I think different versions of Word do come out with different word counts. I'm sure I've read some facts about it, when people have done comparisons. I think you only have to find a way to justify your own count. Don't just go along with theirs - who knows where that might lead in the future? So, how about putting a text through SDL Trados for another count? I suspect it would be higher still. Of course if it was lower then you'd just forget about it . If higher, show that to your client and tell them they don't know when they're well off .

You can also do some tests by selecting chunks of likely candidates for causing problems - words with apostrophes and hyphens, non-breaking spaces, large numbers, numbers with units such as currencies, etc. And ask your client to do exactly the same test on exactly the same text extracts. That should prove the case. And if theirs is counting "don't" as one word and you're counting it as two, well, that's fairly simple to justify.


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Daniel Rabinovich  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 07:24
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Maybe the footnotes? May 15

If it's not the text boxes, one thing I can think of is the fact that some ancient versions of Word (Word 2000 and before) did not include the footnotes and endnotes in the word count by default.

They could also be using an external tool (AnyCount, FineCount, etc.) to count their words, but I doubt it would have produced a lower count.


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Bente_F  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:24
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your input May 16

Like you said, Chris, we don't question the plumber's charges, so why question ours? It's the underlying 'you're probaby trying to wheedle a few extra pennies out of us' that really bugs me. Had they been a new client, they'd been out on their ear, but for a client of 15 years' standing I'm prepared to take the debate just this once.

I looked up the two programs suggested by Daniel, and I struck pay dirt here: http://www.anycount.com/product/word-count-test. I'll be using that to try to make them understand.

As suggested by Sheila, I browsed through the text a bit more thoroughly, but didn't find even one contraction. I did, however, find a few missing spaces, so that a few words were counted as one despite being two. These shall be duly pointed out Trados doesn't like the file for some reason, it comes out split up in very odd segments. Maybe, just maybe, this Word file has some hidden formating somewhere that's also contributing to the problem.

Best wishes,

Bente


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:24
French to English
Differences May 16

Differences between versions of Word and also PC/Mac.

I used to worry about this, but in the long run, it does not make much difference. If a penny-pinching attitude gets up my nose and it causes problems, if I can afford to, I drop the client. If not, I let it go and keep an eye out for other changing attitudes. If it all gets too much of a hassle, bye-bye!

To be frank, I am more concerned about trying to maintain a decent per-word rate. Having recently returned to contacting agencies after changes in the market of my main specialist area, I am quite despondent about how little rates have evolved. I'm churning out work at between 50-60% my direct client rate (standard direct client market rate in France) which comes back with next to no changes after proofreading, yet having to work twice as much for the same income?! Finally quite glad to be moving on to a different area of work, although I will continue to translate/interpret. Not at all happy about working now for rates akin to those I started out with more than 20 years ago. Some agencies have had to cut their rates to remain competitive. However, there are limits! However, the fact that the agencies' word counts are slightly below or sometimes above mine has become a detail. Thank goodness I do still have a number of direct clients!

[Edited at 2017-05-16 09:29 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
My "business plan" May 16

I tend to winnow out and dump any clients who might tend to think that I would try to screw a few miserable cents out of them by any kind of subterfuge. I would perceive it as a severe personal affront.

On the contrary, I'm more likely to give them unsolicited discounts. And if I do have to end up getting rid of them, it's their loss.

PS: On the technical side, in my experience it's rare to find different programs that all provide the same word count. I tried several, but the only one whose name I recall is Anycount. And they all gave different totals when analysing PowerPoint, Excel or Word documents. The same thing can happen if I change from one computer to another, even if they are running the same version of MS Office.
The solution is to work with flexible, trusting/trustworthy clients, who are going to take you at your word and be willing and able to come to a compromise. But the truth is, in situations like these, I tend to just say yeah okay whatever, and agree to accept the client's version of the word count, as long as they recognise it as a concession on my part and not something for which they have had to twist my arm.

[Edited at 2017-05-16 09:34 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
Trust is paramount May 16

Bente_F wrote:

It's the underlying 'you're probaby trying to wheedle a few extra pennies out of us' that really bugs me. Had they been a new client, they'd been out on their ear, but for a client of 15 years' standing I'm prepared to take the debate just this once.



My point exactly. In fact I sacked one long-standing client a few years ago for trying to blame me for their ineptitude. About eighteen months later they came crawling back and apologised, begging me to work for them again. I relented after raising the rate 25%.


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Bente_F  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 06:24
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It seems they just needed educating :) May 16

The company in question have two new employees, and my recent debates have been with those two. We've also recently had a debate about whether they should pay for the word 'DAB', as 'it doesn't need translating...!!'. When I gave him a long list of 'other words that should not then be translated, either', he saw my point.

It was the feeling of 'oh no, not again' that made me vent last night. However, this morning I was polite but firm, referred them to the table from the Anycount homepage, and am now gainfully employed doing the job at the rate specified by me. It does seem these two youngsters just needed whipping into shape a bit.

I'm glad I'm not the only one with this problem (although, get me right, I'm NOT glad the problem crops up at all).

Neil, I have, on occasion, given an 'entertainment discount' when texts have been so funny, I just couldn't stop laughing. This has mainly been when proofreading jobs turned into outright translation jobs, because someone played with MT..

Best wishes,

Bente


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