How much to charge for pagination/layout?
Thread poster: Mohammad Ghaffari

Mohammad Ghaffari  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:21
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
Jan 24

A potential client has requested a quote for pagination/layout. The translations are already done and I would be responsible for transforming them into pdf's to be exactly like the original ones. Each pdf document is around 5-7 pages. What is reasonable, middle-ground rate for that?

 

Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:21
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
What's the skill level involved? Jan 24

I have a college student I can occasionally fall back on to do layout/formatting stuff for me. I pay her GBP 12/hour (approx. USD 18). That's more than double the minimum wage for her age group.
I don't work with super-complicated stuff, and this is text only.
But I realised quickly that the average teenager is much more efficient at this kind of stuff than I will ever be.

If your projects involve proper DTP, graphics, non-standard programs etc. I imagine it would be much higher.


 

Barbara Carrara  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:21
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Please elaborate Jan 24

In your profile, you list DTP as one of the (many) services you already provide.
And from your post, this potential assignment appears to be very straightforward.
So, how is this specific project different from the sort of tasks you normally take on?


 

Mohammad Ghaffari  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:21
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks and more Jan 24

Thank you, Diana and Barbara, for replying to my question.

@Barbara The fact is that I think the client might reject my usual hourly rate because of the level of skills involved. And, this is my first client from Russia, so I am not much aware of the average rate regarding their market.

[Edited at 2018-01-24 14:17 GMT]


 

Barbara Carrara  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 18:21
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Cont.d Jan 24

Thanks, Mohammad.
As a provider, you should state your own fee (calculated on an hourly basis or other applicable parameter or variable), after assessing the job at hand, rather than a country-specific rate based on where your potential client is located. And take it from there.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:21
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
If they come to you, they pay for you Jan 24

Mohammad Ghaffari wrote:
I think the client might reject my usual hourly rate because of the level of skills involved.

There's a lot of sense in directing this sort of work, as Diana says. But this client came to you - a translator - so I imagine they're ready to pay the rate a translator would expect. Otherwise, why would you spend your time doing this rather than more lucrative translations? It may be less demanding intellectually but freelancers can only work on one job at a time so the hours this job takes are worth just as much to you. I've had this argument with clients looking for transcription - don't expect me to quote an audio-typist's rate!

And, this is my first client from Russia, so I am not much aware of the average rate regarding their market.

Well, you can find some statistical analyses here: https://search.proz.com/?sp=pfe/rates but I can't see how they're relevant. They're for suppliers living in those countries, not related to where the client lives. We can't change our rates for every client depending on where they live. Whether the client is renting a suite at the London Savoy Hotel or working out of a prefab in a third-world country, we still have to pay the same for a loaf of bread! (Okay, you might - for the benefit of your pocket or out of the goodness of your heart - decide to pitch a bit higher or a bit lower than usual, but I think that's irrelevant here icon_smile.gif.)


 

Mohammad Ghaffari  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:21
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jan 24

Thank you, Sheila, for your helpful replyicon_smile.gif

 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
Leaving out important details Jan 24

Mohammad Ghaffari wrote:

A potential client has requested a quote for pagination/layout. The translations are already done and I would be responsible for transforming them into pdf's to be exactly like the original ones. Each pdf document is around 5-7 pages. What is reasonable, middle-ground rate for that?


Mohammad, you left out some details:

1) In what file format are the translations?
2) What typeface or font is being used?
3) In what language are the translations done?
4) What kind of documentation is involved?
5) How will these PDF files (the deliverables the client is asking for) be used? In print? On the web?

These are very important factors.

Like Barbara said, you are the provider, you should set your own rates regardless of country.
I'm curious, why is it so important to you that this is your first Russian client, or first client in Russia, as the case may be?


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:21
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Going a bit deeper Jan 24

Mario Chavez wrote:
Mohammad, you left out some details:
3) In what language are the translations done?


I'd wonder if you understand both source/target languages, as you translate Persian < > English, and mention a Russian client.

Is Cyrillic involved? If it is, can you read it?

In order to illustrate, I only translate EN < > PT. However I also speak IT/FR/ES.
So I will do DTP if the translation job involves any pair among EN/PT/IT/FR/ES, however I will NOT take it if any other languages are at stake.

How will you know the correspondence? In the old photo-typesetting and paste-up days, I'd circle blocks of text in a copy of the original, and number my translated text blocks. Nevertheless I had to carefully review the paper strips from typesetting before they were cleared for paste-up. (And yet, I'd review the paste-up again.)

Quite frankly, I wouldn't touch it if it involved Cyrillic (which I can't read). If it involved Persian, I wouldn't know which side is up. And even if it involved e.g. German, Polish, or Dutch, I wouldn't be able to check whether the special chars and diacritics were right.

Mario Chavez wrote:
1) In what file format are the translations?


This may be relevant, or not. I'd rather use plain TXT and format each block on the go, considering that I only work with languages I understand fairly well.

Mario Chavez wrote:
2) What typeface or font is being used?


This could be a major issue, if you are unfamiliar with the charset used.

Mario Chavez wrote:
4) What kind of documentation is involved?


I'd rather see it as a matter of layout complexity.

While it is pretty easy - at least using the defunct Page Maker - to place PDF pages as "background", and using them as templates to rebuild each page from scratch, if there are intricate tables, flowcharts, or other complex elements, it might be tricky or difficult to rebuild them.

Mario Chavez wrote:
5) How will these PDF files (the deliverables the client is asking for) be used? In print? On the web?


IMHO this is the least of all problems, just a matter of specifying your DTP app's output to PDF.

Mario Chavez wrote:
Like Barbara said, you are the provider, you should set your own rates regardless of country.


Definitely! You set your own rates, however first you must consider whether you WILL be able to do a reliable job, and then how much time, effort, and resources that will take you.

Keep in mind that, unless it's plain streaming text, Microsoft Word is - as its name implies - a word processor, NOT a DTP app.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:21
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Hardly ever works Jan 24

Mohammad Ghaffari wrote:

A potential client has requested a quote for pagination/layout. The translations are already done and I would be responsible for transforming them into pdf's to be exactly like the original ones. Each pdf document is around 5-7 pages. What is reasonable, middle-ground rate for that?


In my experience this idea of "transforming documents into PDFs to be exactly like the original ones" is fraught with problems.

Your translated text may necessarily be longer than the source text, and so won't fit into the text boxes of the original. Similarly, if you have to respect breaks your translated text may overflow out of the text box.

Worst of all, this is work that has got absolutely nothing to do with translation. Your client shouldn't be asking you to do it. If you're not an expert in DTP, my suggestion would be to stay away from this job. Your time would be better spent doing translations!


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:21
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Isn't it a bit too radical? Jan 25

Tom in London wrote:
In my experience this idea of "transforming documents into PDFs to be exactly like the original ones" is fraught with problems.


You are definitely correct here. As soon as the language (and possibly measurement units, hence numbers) changes in translation, the document will never be exactly as its original, though it could be quite similar.

Tom in London wrote:
Your translated text may necessarily be longer than the source text, and so won't fit into the text boxes of the original. Similarly, if you have to respect breaks your translated text may overflow out of the text box.


Not always longer, it may be shorter too. It is safer to state that most likely text volume (in terms of char count with spaces) WILL change, when the alphabet used doesn't change entirely.

DTP software has a number of tricks, like char spacing, word spacing, char width, justifying & hyphenating (when acceptable), font size, line spacing, kerning, etc. etc., however the person must know how to use them so that nobody will notice that they were used, upon comparing with the original.

Tom in London wrote:
Worst of all, this is work that has got absolutely nothing to do with translation.


This is where I beg to differ. Translation and DTP are closely related, when they come together.

A short story will illustrate.
I was hired to translate a 200-page book EN > PT, and a colleague with whom I had worked in many projects would revise it. We'd shuttle the file between us until it was perfect.
It was crammed with illustrations and quotes in text boxes.
We received the file in MS Word to translate, and, of course, the text swelled in translation.
The translated DOC was all cockeyed, so the client hired a FR-only-speaking DTP operator, who moved it into InDesign, and adjusted the layout.
As that DTP operator didn't have a PT hyphenation algorithm/dictionary for InDesign, she chose to use the Italian one, guessing (wrongly!) that the rules should be the same.
The client sent us the resulting PDF, and there were many hyphenation mistakes, which we marked, and sent back to the DTP Op. She fixed them and, every time she did so, a NEW hyphenation mistake came up at a lower point in the same paragraph.
Cutting to the chase, that colleague and I had to proofread the entire 200-page book EIGHT TIMES (bouncing to the DTP Op after each one) until the last "bad" hyphen ran out of the longest paragraph.

Therefore either a bilingual DTP operator or a translator who can do DTP properly are clearly better options (obviously provided that their skills cover the languages at stake).

Of course, translation and DTP are different lines of work, however there is nothing to prevent anyone from doing both, especially when the visual arts job has already been done by someone supposedly gifted with the necessary talent and creativity.

Tom in London wrote:
Your client shouldn't be asking you to do it. If you're not an expert in DTP, my suggestion would be to stay away from this job. Your time would be better spent doing translations!


This is the most valuable piece of advice.

All too often I see posts everywhere to the tune of "I am a translator, and a client has hired me to do (DTP, video subtitling, video dubbing, whatever), which I've never done before. How much should I charge for it?"

Is that their one and only concern?

Can't they envision this picture?
I am an ambulance driver, so I'm clad in a hospital uniform. There's one guy here at the bar who says he needs brain surgery. He saw my uniform, and wants me to do it. How much should I charge him?icon_biggrin.gif


 

xxxGitte Hoveds
Denmark
Local time: 18:21
Danish to English
+ ...
Your standard hourly rate Jan 26

An hour is an hour is an hour...

If you are happy to do the work, simply charge your standard hourly rate.


 


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