# Poll: How do you usually calculate your rates?

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Poll: How do you usually calculate your rates?

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 10:26
SITE STAFF
 Aug 23, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How do you usually calculate your rates?".

View the poll results »

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Steffen Walter
Germany
Local time: 19:26
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
 Important category/option missing Aug 23, 2012

This poll does not mention one other important calculation base, which is why I voted "Other": I usually calculate my rates per source or target line of text, as agreed in each specific case (1 line = 55 keystrokes including spaces). This approach is very common in German-speaking countries (and most of my clients are based in Germany).

[Edited at 2012-08-23 08:23 GMT]

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Alexander Kondorsky
Russian Federation
Local time: 21:26
English to Russian
+ ...
 per character Aug 23, 2012

I chose "per character" but actually I charge per 1800 characters with spaces which is a "standard page". I don't think "per word" is a good method because the average length of word varies widely for different languages (especially for German) while in English word count increases by 10-15% due to wide use of prepositions and articles.

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Chris S
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
 How to charge is a tough question Aug 23, 2012

Obviously we all feel we should be paid by the hour like professionals rather than piecemeal like factory workers, but in practice words are so much easier to quote than hours, and of course there is less incentive to get on with the job when paid by the hour.

This also reminds me of one of my suggested polls which ProZ have chosen not to use, something along the lines of "When charging by the hour, how honest are you?"

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neilmac
Spain
Local time: 19:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
 Too honest Aug 23, 2012

Chris S wrote:
"When charging by the hour, how honest are you?"

When charging by the hour (usually for revision/proofing rather than translation), I don't make an exact count of the real time taken, just a rough estimate. On a couple of occasions, I compared what I'd have gained if charging per word for these jobs and found that I was losing out each time. I'd never intentionally charge more than the real time the job takes me, as I consider my hourly rates sufficient. For example, if a job takes me 80 minutes, I'm more likely to bill for one hour rather than 1.5.

PS: Having said that, I don't do discounts for reps or fuzziness, so I can afford to lose on the roundabouts, so to speak.

[Edited at 2012-08-23 11:13 GMT]

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Marta Brambilla
Switzerland
Local time: 19:26
German to Italian
+ ...
 Per line, too Aug 23, 2012

Steffen Walter wrote:

This poll does not mention one other important calculation base, which is why I voted "Other": I usually calculate my rates per source or target line of text, as agreed in each specific case (1 line = 55 keystrokes including spaces). This approach is very common in German-speaking countries (and most of my clients are based in Germany).

[Edited at 2012-08-23 08:23 GMT]

That is exactly what I wanted to add!!
Here in Switzerland this method is widely used (less in Germany, where I calculate per source word).

Have a nice day,
Marta B.

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LegalTransform
United States
Local time: 13:26
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
 Source vs Target Aug 23, 2012

I can't believe how many people charge by the source word. I do not object to it as it makes no difference to me (other than a 20% surcharge for German), but I just have never been asked to charge by the source word in 19 nineteen years.

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Julian Holmes
Japan
Local time: 03:26
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
 By source character Aug 23, 2012

"source character" over here in Japan means source Japanese Kanji character, syllabary characters (hiragana and katakana) and punctuation marks.

Japanese companies with a capital of 10,000,001 yen or more are required by law to issue an order form or PO when they place an order with a supplier. If we were to bill by target word, they would not be able to do this since the target number of words fluctuates considerably sometimes by about 15 to 20% depending on the content, style, etc. of the source text. So, the number of source characters is used as the calculation reference in the majority of cases these days since this number does not change.

Wish I could charge for tags as well.

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Chris S
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
 Target word Aug 23, 2012

Jeff Whittaker wrote:

I can't believe how many people charge by the source word. I do not object to it as it makes no difference to me (other than a 20% surcharge for German), but I just have never been asked to charge by the source word in 19 nineteen years.

Interesting, presumably you don't work for translation agencies at all?

Source word billing means the customer knows the price in advance, which they generally prefer, whereas target word billing varies according to how verbose you are! We only do it for PDFs.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 18:26
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
 Usually, per source word Aug 23, 2012

except for one client (a newspaper) who prefers being charged per character. I always charge proofing/revision per hour.

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Rebecca Garber
Local time: 13:26
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
 source word because of CAT tools Aug 23, 2012

Most CAT tools calculate based on new/fuzzy/repeats of source words. So I mostly charge based on source words.

That said, when I work from pdfs, German calculates based on lines (55 characters) in the target text, or target words.
I also get paid by the hour for proofreading.
And then there is the nminimum charge for very small projects.

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Parrot
Spain
Local time: 19:26
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
 "Calculate" your rates? Aug 23, 2012

Wouldn't that be "quote"?

I've calculated my rates so I can quote in source, target, lines, hours, days... I mean, in such a way that it all adds up to the same figure, more or less. What's there to calculate by those units?

If I didn't do it this way, there would be jobs in which I would be earning above or below a par, which, in terms of bottom line, doesn't really benefit the client. At any rate, I like to be able to claim that I maintain the same professional attitude to different jobs, not discriminating because a customer may pay less or more.

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Jose Arnoldo Rodriguez-Carrington
Mexico
Local time: 12:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
 Normally per source. Target for pdf Aug 23, 2012

I do not know German, so it surprises me when other posters say it provides a 10-20 surcharge over German, because that would mean it uses 20-35% fewer words than Spanish. Spanish translations of English usually have 10-15% more words than the English original. So I charge for source word, unless the original is a pdf, and therefore it is impossible to calculate the word count before translating. But then, the 10-15% increase in words hardly compensates for the increased hassle.

By the way, I wish we could get rid of all those inconvertible pdfs!

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Mario Chavez (X)
Local time: 13:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
 What about “per project”? Aug 23, 2012

I started my career charging by Spanish word. Ah, those were the days! Then translation agencies switched to per-English-word quotes and some translators could no longer use inflated word counts to bill them (snicker). But I wasn't one of them. I was too scared of the consequences, hahah.

Seriously now, I remember reading an article in Multilingual Language & Computing magazine years ago where this proposal was advanced: in the future, translation jobs would be rated (ie, charged) on a per-project price, not per-word rate. I was struck with the realization that many translators do more than just translation.

Almost every challenging project packages other possible services to deliver, for which we may or may not be prepared to offer. Sure, the traditional proofreading or editing, or minor formatting of a Word document have long been part and parcel of such projects.

However, a wise client once advised me (back in 2005) that I should learn desktop publishing to offer it as a service. And I did. I got a Mac computer, some DTP packages and started to play around with them. Later on, I was able to do some DTP in Quark Xpress and then in InDesign and Corel for some clients.

This year, I started an experiment: to charge a project a flat rate, translation, DTP all inclusive. It's a trial and error process, though, since I can underestimate the complexity of certain documents. For example, setting a translation of a text page in InDesign is very different than setting the translation of a price list. Never mind accompanying banner or side graphics with text. Fun, fun, fun.

I also realized that not every project can be priced as an entire project, depending on the client's needs and negotiated expectations.

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Allison Wright
Portugal
Local time: 18:26
German to English
+ ...
 Same quibble as Parrot Aug 24, 2012

Parrot wrote:

Wouldn't that be "quote"?

I've calculated my rates so I can quote in source, target, lines, hours, days... I mean, in such a way that it all adds up to the same figure, more or less. What's there to calculate by those units?

I quote in whatever format the client requires.
I am better able to judge work from a source word perspective, so normally "convert" into source word terms for my own private use, firstly as a check that I have quoted correctly, and secondly to gauge roughly how much time the job is going to take to complete.

I have calculated my rates with a great deal of care.

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