How to charge for DTP work?
Thread poster: john2006 (X)

john2006 (X)
Local time: 08:23
English to Arabic
Jul 12, 2006

Dear translators

How to charge for DTP work?
What is the suitable price for DTP translation work?

Give an example please.



Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
English to German
+ ...
Be more specific Jul 12, 2006

Hi John,
Welcome to

Help others to help you - if you provide some more background information, people will be in a better position to help you.

Best regards,


Pilar T. Bayle (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
Two possibilities Jul 12, 2006

How to charge for DTP work?
What is the suitable price for DTP translation work?

I see two possibilities:

1. The client assigns a translation that it is already done in a DTP program (Quark, PageMaker, whatever). So they send you the file like that. In that case, you normally charge your rate plus a surcharge for handling the DTP file, 20 or 30%.

2. The client assigns a translation in a normal format and wants it back with DTP. In that case, you should apply your regular rate for the translation. Then DTP is usually charged as a per-page price.

The normal case is 1, that's what happens more often. The second one can be a true nightmare if you are not too well versed in the DTP program.


[Edited at 2006-07-12 23:22]


john2006 (X)
Local time: 08:23
English to Arabic
background info Jul 13, 2006


Actually, i applied for a DTP job.
I want to be ready for the answer when the company asks for a price.

Pilar T. Bayle, can I understand from what you say that I do not translate (I do not do translation work but do word of DTP artists)?

Pilar T. Bayle , email me please through my profile.



José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It depends (a lot) on the job! Jul 17, 2006


I've been doing translation + DTP together since 1987. First, on the Apple II with a program named MultiScribe. Then I moved to a 4.77 MHz PC-XT, which ran PageMaker 3 under the yet iconless Windows 2.01. Ever since, it was just a succession of upgrades, both in PageMaker and hardware.

The first variable to calculate is based on what you GET. Is the original on paper? Will you have to scan it? Or is it the currently more common practice, a PDF file?

If it's a PDF, you'll have to OCR the text (if you want to use any CAT tool), and capture the illustrations, if there are any. Maybe the client will provide the illustrations in separate graphic files, which will give you much less trouble.

Then there are the fonts used. Are they the very common ones, such as Arial, Times, Courier, everyone has? Are they the not-so-common ones, but easily found, like AvantGarde, Verdana, etc.? Or are they "rare" fonts the client expects you to buy, often for a few hundred dollars? In the last case, will the client accept "similar" ones from your collection? In this case, how long will it take you to find them? (My collection has 11,000 fonts).

Finally, there are the illustrations. Some of them you'll just crop from the PDF file pages. But others will have overlaid text, which will have to be removed, the background "restored", and rewritten.

Apart from all the aforesaid, you can charge a per-page fee, just to put things in their places and format any text properly.

To implement the translation onto the DTP I prefer plain TXT files. MS-Word-formatted text often wreaks havoc in PageMaker, so if this is the case I put it through Windows Notepad first. It's easier to format plain text in PageMaker than to reformat Word-formatted text.

All this should be taken into account when computing the DTP cost. If it's just a plain-text book, okay, you may charge per page only. If it's not, you may wind up working long hours for free.

Not too long ago, while I was pondering over this issue, I recalled the days when my translations required cross-reference marks, which the monoglot phototypesetting and the paste-up guys would use to find out how and where each item should go.

It crossed my mind that though I only translate ENPT, I speak IT, FR, and ES well enough to be able to do DTP without such tedious to make cross-references for any pair among these five languages. So I began offering this service for fellow translators who work with them.

Hence I developed a web site - unfortunately (for you) it's in Brazilian Portuguese only - . In there, you may find my DTP electronc estimator for download at . Again it is in PT-BR, and the currency is Brazilian Reais (BRL), but it might shed some light on what I take into account when estimating a DTP job. If you understand any Latin language, there is a chance that you'll get a glimpse of how it works.

Good luck!


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