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Billing for handwritten old text
Thread poster: Dovendyr er dovendyring

Dovendyr er dovendyring
Local time: 17:33
May 18

Dear all,

We have been requested to translate old letters from Swedish to French. The problem is that the letters are from last century, and scanned (not so great quality).

So the text needs first to be deciphered and then typed, before we can begin to translate.

It took 30 minutes to decipher and type 450 words.
How do you bill this time?
I checked in the Proz database and it says that the average cost is 0.12 euros per word, and 40 euros per hour. Should I combine those two to reflect the work which has been done?

For 450 words, the cost is 74 euros. Is it a normal price?

I am very thankful for any input or advice.


Agneta Pallinder  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:33
Member (2014)
Swedish to English
+ ...
What price did you agree? May 19

Did you not agree a price before you did the job?

If not, I think the fairest would be to charge for the actual time taken for the whole job, i.e. transcription and translation. Some of your translation thinking would surely have started at the point of reading/transcribing?


Daniel Frisano
Local time: 17:33
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
x2 May 19

Twice your standard rate for translation from Swedish would be a reasonable estimate.

The effort required for deciphering and typing is comparable to that required for translation. In fact, one might argue that translating is deciphering and typing.


Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:33
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Sames as any other job May 19

You assess how long it will take you to do the job and quote your price accordingly. Preferably this should all be agreed before the job is confirmed.

With work like this, I wouldn't bother with per-word rates but quote a flat fee for the whole job.


Lian Pang  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:33
Member (Mar 2018)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Additional Charges May 19

I am not familiar with your language pair, therefore cannot suggest any specific rate. but as a general practice, you are entitled to charge extra for the deciphering and transcription.

I personally would up the price per source word though.


Local time: 17:33
Member (2017)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
two jobs, two prices May 19

Dovendyr er dovendyring wrote:
It took 30 minutes to decipher and type 450 words.

There you have the answer.....make an estimate of the total number of words, figure out the time needed for making the transcript, and calculate a price for that part of the job. The add the translation fee. If you are nice, you give a discount on top.


Dovendyr er dovendyring
Local time: 17:33
Thank you very much May 20

Thank you to everybody who commented. I will use the standard fee of 40 euros an hour and charge for the deciphering as well!


Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 10:33
German to English
+ ...
and an alternative May 20

Well, to start you would want to give a fee before starting the work, keeping in mind how long you assess it will probably take and figuring that in - you can always decide to give a discount if it takes less time. But at times I have also suggested that if I can get typed transcript, I'd be happiest to work from that, and it would save the (end) client some money. Quite a few clients have chosen this option.
Old German documents often have variants of the old Suetterlin script, which has actual different lettering. Then you get brown splotches of old dried glue from scotch tape or natural oils from hands, tears and holes. There's a point where it crosses from translation to handwriting forensics.


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Billing for handwritten old text

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