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Words per hour when proofreading
Thread poster: Pilar Díez

Pilar Díez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dec 1, 2010

Hello!

I am just writing to try to clarify an issue that has arised at my working place, a Spanish university. In order to quantify data and try to unify criteria, the manager of my department would like to know, on average, the number of words per hour one can proofread. In our case, the texts are usually academic papers on different issues that have been written in or translated into English.
Thanks a lot for your suggestions!


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jlrsnyder  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:01
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
It depends on how many corrections are needed, but Dec 1, 2010

One agency I work for estimates 1000 words/hour.

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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 11:01
English to Russian
+ ...
Hard to determine a priori Dec 1, 2010

The quality of translations varies very widely, and so does the time required to do the proofreading. In my personal experience, proofreading a translation I consider good takes about 1/4 of the time I would need to translate the same text. An excellent one may take as little as 1/10. A pathologically bad one may take even longer to correct than to redo from scratch - I've seen a few.

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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:01
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Define proofreading Dec 1, 2010

You'll first need to define what you mean by proofreading. Do you make a distinction between proofreading, revision, editing, etc.?

Many agencies make only one distinction: translation and proofreading, but you're working at a university.

Cheers,
Gerard


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Pilar Díez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Dec 1, 2010

Thanks a lot to the three of you. Just a bit of a context: we don't do editing, for example. Basically, what we do is to correct both style and grammar and spelling mistakes, so as to make sure that the text can be sent to the publisher before or after a conference, for example, or just to a scientific journal.
Of course, it is true that it all depends on the quality of the original text, but for managament reasons, I've been asked to provide an average. Hence my question!


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 17:01
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Native speaker living abroad Dec 2, 2010

I met with a new category of proofreading: translations of the native who live and work abroad. Features of their translations are correct but old-fashioned or unnatural usage of words (they may live abroad for a long time and fail to absorb the latest language trend of the home country). These jobs are quite time consuming (similar to translation of non-native speakers).

Soonthon Lupkitaro


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pgschreier  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 11:01
German to English
proofreading speeds Dec 2, 2010

Hi,

At one of the agencies for whom I work, they pay for 6 pages/hour where a page is 1325 characters (incl. spaces). This assumes, however, that you are editing only a target document for grammar, punctuation, spelling and basic style (changing only things that are obviously worded very poorly) and there's no need to check that a translation is correct.

-- Paul


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:01
German to English
Depends on the subject matter, translator Dec 2, 2010

I regularly edit/revise/check ongoing projects with the same high-quality translators. Depending on the density of the material, I can check 1000-1200 words/hour. But these translators (and I) know the subject matter and are familiar with the clients' requirements. When it comes to unfamiliar material, checking speed slows to 800-1000 words/hour.

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Mette Melchior  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 11:01
English to Danish
+ ...
Translation or original text Dec 2, 2010

Hello Pilar

I just wanted to add that how much you can proofread in an hour also depends on whether you are proofreading a translation or a original text. In the translation industry we are usually asked to compare the translation to the source text sentence for sentence, apart from correcting spelling, grammar, terminology and style, and this will obviously take longer than if you only have to concentrate on the original.

I assume the numbers the others are referring to are for revision of a translation (i.e. where the texts have to be compared). I also do a lot of editing/revision, and as already mentioned the time needed will always depend on the quality of the text and the type of material, but for translations of a reasonable quality, I count on being able to revise 1000-1200 words per hour and approx. 1500-1800 words per hour for monolingual proofreading.

However, if the original texts you need proofread are written by non-native speakers there might be more work involved with correcting their work depending on their language skills.


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Pilar Díez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks!! Dec 2, 2010

Thanks a lot! All your comments are really helpful and provide interesting points of view on the subject. I think I have something to tell my boss now!

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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 04:01
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not possible to estimate average without further data Dec 2, 2010

On the average, what is the quality of the texts to be proofread? If you have an answer to this question, then your question can be answered in turn.

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:01
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
On an assembly line Dec 3, 2010

(i.e., granted translators and proofreaders have been rigidly screened and are used to the work, and the work is expected to go smoothly), 1,500/1,600 is not uncommon. These are the estimates we used when I was helping to organize multilingual conferences, where staff underwent thorough screening. In practice, however, I do not promise a prospective client more than 1,200/hour for translation revision, if only for the fact that I will be dealing with a style I have to get used to. This may drop if the writer is non-native.

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Pilar Díez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Dec 3, 2010

Once again, thanks a lot. I think that for what I need, I'll estimate from 1000 to 1200 per hour, as most of the text we deal with are well written/translated. It is true, though, that first you have to get used to the style and contents.

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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:01
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
see proofreading speed in my survey article Dec 3, 2010

I conducted a survey and wrote an article on this topic a few years which also contained info on editing/proofreading speeds.

Translation speed versus content management in MultiLingual magazine (2004)

Available for free at :
https://www.box.net/shared/kln6d9agbe

or

the MultiLingual magazine website: http://www.multilingual.com/

Jeff


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Mr Florida
Local time: 05:01
German to English
+ ...
It depends Dec 3, 2010

Typically you can proofread between 6,000 and 8,000 words a day. Having said that, it is in the interest of the proofreader to bill by the hour. Given the various qualities, you have no way to assess how long it will take you to fix up some crappy translation on the basis of the word count.

I still remember a job when the translator skipped whatever he couldn't translate. If you get one of those, checking each segment takes a lot more time.


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Words per hour when proofreading

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