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Proofreading Rates
Thread poster: Mark Harris

Mark Harris
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:25
Member (2019)
French to English
+ ...
Jul 24, 2019

Hi Everyone,

I'm looking for some advice from all you helpful people if possible. I am just starting out in my translation career having finished my BA in French and Spanish a few months ago. I have recently enquired about working with a academic proofreading agency who proofread academic work for foreign students. They have asked me to proofread a 500 word file as a test of my ability and inform them of my expected rate per 1000 words. The problem is that I am really at a loss as t
... See more
Hi Everyone,

I'm looking for some advice from all you helpful people if possible. I am just starting out in my translation career having finished my BA in French and Spanish a few months ago. I have recently enquired about working with a academic proofreading agency who proofread academic work for foreign students. They have asked me to proofread a 500 word file as a test of my ability and inform them of my expected rate per 1000 words. The problem is that I am really at a loss as to what to suggest for a rate, as there seems to be a lot of differing information online, and this type of work is quite new to me. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I was initially thinking around £15/1000 words, but I have seen some online academic proofreading agencies who offer this price directly to the end user, so perhaps that would be overly ambitious.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

Mark
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Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:25
Member (2012)
French to English
Hi Mark Jul 24, 2019

I think proofreading is usually paid on an hourly basis, at least in my experience. For instance, I did a one-hour proofreading job last week for 25 euros.

Of course, that leaves you with the question of how many words you are expected to proofread in an hour. I always underestimate the time I will take, for the client's sake. So if they pay me for one hour, I might actually take three or four hours, because I enjoy spending time to make something better.

[Edited at 2019-07-2
... See more
I think proofreading is usually paid on an hourly basis, at least in my experience. For instance, I did a one-hour proofreading job last week for 25 euros.

Of course, that leaves you with the question of how many words you are expected to proofread in an hour. I always underestimate the time I will take, for the client's sake. So if they pay me for one hour, I might actually take three or four hours, because I enjoy spending time to make something better.

[Edited at 2019-07-24 12:45 GMT]
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Nay DANG
Teresa Borges
 

Mark Harris
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:25
Member (2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the reply Jul 24, 2019

It does seem to be more common that proofreaders charge per hour rather than per 1000 words, but they are specifying a price per 1000 words rather than per hour. I'm hesitant to resist considering it is effectively my first job in this specific field, and I am quite keen to pick up experience. I am thinking of going ahead and quoting £15/1000 words as this seems reasonable...

Elizabeth Tamblin
Nay DANG
Tina Vonhof
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
Depends on the text Jul 24, 2019

I'd always ask to look at the text first however. Some texts have been well translated and require only a touch here and there. Others have been googletranslated and need a huge amount of work, while still others are actually written in the target language by non-native speakers. This latter group can be of hugely varying quality... so it's always worth examining a page or two in detail before quoting.

Josephine Cassar
Gareth Rhys-Jones López
Nay DANG
Teresa Borges
Chris Foster
Tina Vonhof
Gloria Teixeira
 

Mark Harris
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:25
Member (2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Jul 24, 2019

It is actually proofreading of academic work that has been written in English, but not by a native English speaker. So I would expect a reasonable level of English considering they are studying at an English university, but obviously there will be a number of errors here and there, hence why they have sent it to be proofread. Unfortunately it is not a quote for a specific text but a quote for ongoing work through an agency.

 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:25
Member (2012)
French to English
A previous thread on this subject Jul 24, 2019

This might be of interest. It has a few interesting suggestions:

https://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/324418-proofreading_rates.html


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:25
German to English
Don't give away your time Jul 24, 2019

Elizabeth Tamblin wrote:

I always underestimate the time I will take, for the client's sake. So if they pay me for one hour, I might actually take three or four hours, because I enjoy spending time to make something better.

[Edited at 2019-07-24 12:45 GMT]


That's a money-losing proposition, even though you might enjoy giving away your time.
I always build in a "fudge factor" when estimating editing and jobs translating non-editable files. If I estimate 4 hours for an edit, and finish it in 3 hours, I invoice 3 hours, and the customer is happy. It's the same with respect to the rare telephone inquiry about a translation. I tell the inquirer to count on at least $60/page.


Kay Denney
Tina Vonhof
IanDhu
 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:25
Member (2012)
French to English
Agreed Jul 24, 2019

Kevin Fulton wrote:

Elizabeth Tamblin wrote:

I always underestimate the time I will take, for the client's sake. So if they pay me for one hour, I might actually take three or four hours, because I enjoy spending time to make something better.

[Edited at 2019-07-24 12:45 GMT]


That's a money-losing proposition, even though you might enjoy giving away your time.
I always build in a "fudge factor" when estimating editing and jobs translating non-editable files. If I estimate 4 hours for an edit, and finish it in 3 hours, I invoice 3 hours, and the customer is happy. It's the same with respect to the rare telephone inquiry about a translation. I tell the inquirer to count on at least $60/page.



I should have made it clear that I would not recommend other people to follow my example in that respect. It's just that I'm never sure how long a thing "should" take, so I err on the side of generosity.


 

Agneta Pallinder  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:25
Member (2014)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Proofreading rates Jul 24, 2019

I do a fair amount of single language proofreading of academic texts for an agency. They have two levels, one for texts that are basically OK but need checking for typos, spelling, punctuation and that sort of thing - for this they expect 2400 words per hour. The other level is for texts that need more tweaking, including sentence structure, grammatical errors etc (in addition to the basic stuff) - for this they expect 1500 words per hour. I find these speeds are doable. I should add that this p... See more
I do a fair amount of single language proofreading of academic texts for an agency. They have two levels, one for texts that are basically OK but need checking for typos, spelling, punctuation and that sort of thing - for this they expect 2400 words per hour. The other level is for texts that need more tweaking, including sentence structure, grammatical errors etc (in addition to the basic stuff) - for this they expect 1500 words per hour. I find these speeds are doable. I should add that this particular agency is very understanding if I have to tell them that a text masquerading as top level is in fact needing a lot of work, and then they re-categorise it so that I actually get paid my hourly rate for the hours I put in.Collapse


 

Barbara Carrara  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:25
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Make sure you are up to the task and you don't lose money Jul 24, 2019

Hi, Mark

First of, make sure you understand the difference between proofreading and editing, or you may be ending up getting paid much less than you had bargained for, given that editing is more time consuming than proofreading.

By your own admission, you are 'quite new to this type of work'. If you have no specific training in proofreading or editing, my suggestion would be to take one or more courses, so that you know what you're doing when you tackle this kind of ass
... See more
Hi, Mark

First of, make sure you understand the difference between proofreading and editing, or you may be ending up getting paid much less than you had bargained for, given that editing is more time consuming than proofreading.

By your own admission, you are 'quite new to this type of work'. If you have no specific training in proofreading or editing, my suggestion would be to take one or more courses, so that you know what you're doing when you tackle this kind of assignments. Have a look at the website of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders ( www.sfep.org.uk ). They even have a course called 'Proofreading Theses and Dissertations'.

Depending on the client/agency, they may require that you work on a .docx file with the track-changes function on, and then provide a 'clean' final version alongside the revised 'dirty' copy. Also, they might ask you to justify some or all your proofreading/editing choices. So, be prepared to spend even more time on your additional comments, including authoritative references (links and whatnot).
A French agency client I used to do some Italian reviewing for (marketing/advertising copy), asked me not just that, but they also required an explanation of my individual choices in French and a back-translation in English of my edited copy. You can imagine how time-consuming such a process may be.

I too would suggest you to always ask your client to be emailed the original files, so that you can assess them before committing to do the job. With non-native speakers you never know how good they are going to be when it comes to their English writing skills.
So, I'm not sure a fixed quote per 1,000 words should be the way to go, as the quality may not always be up to scratch.

Before I leave, as an exercise of no academic relevance, ça va sans dire, you can a) proofread/edit my own non-native contribution to this thread and see how long it takes you to work on these few paragraphs, and b) proofread the following excerpt from your own initial post,
I have recently enquired about working with a academic proofreading agency who proofread academic work for foreign students.


Have fun, and good luck with everything.
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Tina Vonhof
writeaway
Andy Watkinson
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You can't compete on price alone Jul 24, 2019

Mark Harris wrote:
I was initially thinking around £15/1000 words, but I have seen some online academic proofreading agencies who offer this price directly to the end user, so perhaps that would be overly ambitious.

You'll always find someone online who will offer to do work for far less than you could ever do it. Ignore them! There are many markets and so many market rates out there. Realistically, you must have an idea of what you want/need to earn per hour of work. You probably charge per word as a translator but the bottom line is still your average rate per hour -- calculate it. Time is the one great invariable for a freelancer, unless they outsource work: you can move to a more/less expensive country, invest in software to speed the editing process, etc., but you can never alter the number of (wo)man-hours in a day.

So, once you have a rate per hour in mind, if the agency won't accept per-hour invoicing then you need to estimate how many words you're likely to be able to process in that hour. If you've never done the job before that's not easy. I find that if I can't manage to process at least 750-1,000 words in an hour, I've accepted a job that I should have turned down. After all, we aren't mind-readers. OTOH, if you're checking the work of a really able and careful writer whose writing style you've become accustomed to, you may be able to manage 2,000 or even 3,000 wph. I have a client like that, although when she sends me general rather than technical texts the speed goes right down.

I would tell the agency your rate per hour and say that you'll give them a quote per 1,000 words when they send the first text to be proofread. Then spend a set amount of time on a trial, or work on a set number of words (preferably not from page one of the text as that's usually the best). That will give you an idea of your rate for that text -- but only for that text.


Christine Andersen
Laetitia Amany
 

Mark Harris
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:25
Member (2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Lots of valuable advice Jul 24, 2019

The agency certainly haven't helped matters since, rather than sending me a sample of an actual essay written by a foreign student, they have sent me a text that I soon realised was an article that they had deliberately edited so it needed to be corrected (adding grammatical errors, incorrect punctuation etc.) I discovered this by finding the article in question when I googled an unusual term from the text. This was a very strange way to assess my proofreading skills and did not give me a clear ... See more
The agency certainly haven't helped matters since, rather than sending me a sample of an actual essay written by a foreign student, they have sent me a text that I soon realised was an article that they had deliberately edited so it needed to be corrected (adding grammatical errors, incorrect punctuation etc.) I discovered this by finding the article in question when I googled an unusual term from the text. This was a very strange way to assess my proofreading skills and did not give me a clear idea of the level of written English I could expect from their customers.

While I don't have any specific training in proofreading per say, I do now have a couple of years' experience translating and proofreading documents that have been translated into English, so I feel fairly confident doing this type of work.

As you say Sheila, since I am still establishing myself in this kind of work it is quite difficult to calculate how many words I may be able to proofread/translate in an hour, therefore quite difficult to calculate what I should be charging per hour. I would imagine this is something I will learn more as I go along, and I suppose inevitably I will underquote and overquote numerous times as I get to grips with this!

Thank you all for your help
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:25
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
@Mark Jul 24, 2019

Mark Harris wrote:
The problem is that I am really at a loss as to what to suggest for a rate, as there seems to be a lot of differing information online, and this type of work is quite new to me. Does anyone have any suggestions?


I suggest you join a professional association in this field and get help and advice from newly found colleagues:
https://www.sfep.org.uk
https://www.sfep.org.uk/resources/suggested-minimum-rates/


IanDhu
 

Richard Purdom  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:25
Dutch to English
+ ...
2.5p a word Jul 24, 2019



[Edited at 2019-07-25 12:33 GMT]


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:25
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
The rate is low Jul 24, 2019

Mark Harris wrote:
a academic proofreading agency who proofread academic work for foreign students.
Mark


I cannot believe such an agency even exists

Back to topic, this job can be done by a mono-lingual English speaker and the candidate pool can be much larger than that for a job requiring bilingual skills. That can be the reason why you were offered such a low rate[Edited at 2019-07-24 18:01 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-07-24 22:25 GMT]


 
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