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Charging per line instead of per word
Thread poster: spectrumtransla

spectrumtransla
Local time: 23:33
Member (2009)
English to French
Feb 9, 2011

I have a client in Germany who wants me to counts lines, instead of words for the translation.

With Transit NXT, Statistics allows easily to count either words, lines, etc. no problem here.

The challenge is the rate adjustment for the translation. I am used to charge per word. How do we adjust the rate structure for a line count?

Thank you
Martin Bordeleau, Toronto


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flarrazabal
Japan
Local time: 12:33
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Number of words per line Feb 9, 2011

At least for translations from German, some clients count seven words per line.
You can apply 7 times the rate per word.

Check also if that is the average number of words using the Statistics.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:33
German to English
Normzeile Feb 9, 2011

Hello,
When the Germans say "line", they mean "Normzeile" = 55 characters (with spaces) in the TARGET TEXT (= translated version, not the original source text as is the case with billing by words). This is a standard unit for billing in Germany and you can refer to it as a "JVEG-Normzeile" (a law related to fees for court experts that also offers a very specific definition of "line") to be perfectly clear.

There are also people who bill according to 50 or 60 characters, but 55 seems to clearly be the standard. All of this does not have anything to with billing according to "lines" in the conventional sense of the word, unless you use fonts and margins to convert the entire document into norm pages beforehand = Do not use a line-counting function!

To determine the fee for a completed translation: (1) do a count on the finished document, (2) divide the number of characters (with spaces) by 55, (3) round up to the next line (e. g.: 567.234 lines = 568 lines), (4) multiply this number of lines by your price per line

Conversions of word prices to line prices are complicated because: (1) average word length varies according to language, (2) average word length varies according to the type of text and author, (3) average number of characters in a text (independent of number of words) varies according to language, (4) the shift from source text to target further complicates matters = There is no formula that is valid for all (or most) languages and subject areas!

That means that you need to find someone who has collected data for broadly related texts in the specific language pair in question. What is the general topic and the language pair and direction of the translation?

Hope that helps,
Michael


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Kate Chaffer
Italy
Local time: 05:33
Member (2009)
Italian to English
Simple Feb 9, 2011

Do a word count for your document. Calculate your price based on that word count.

Then do a line count. Divide the price you calculated previously by the number of lines and you have your price per line.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 06:33
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
German grows Feb 9, 2011

From English to German the number of characters will probably increase by a factor of 1.1 or 1.2 depending on your style and on the subject. So if the source text has 5500 chars including spaces (from statistics in Word), you have 100 NZ. In the translation this might be 110 or 120 NZ (lines).

Translators love this NZ because you get what you produce without stupid reductions.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:33
German to English
price based on target text Feb 9, 2011

Hello,
Are you making a bid, charging for one finished text, or setting a price for a series of texts?

If you are charging for a single finished text, then Kate's solution is indeed very simple. Just divide your word price for the text by the number of "lines" (= characters [incl. spaces] in the translation [!] divided by 55).

Sincerely,
Michael

[Bearbeitet am 2011-02-09 13:55 GMT]

[Bearbeitet am 2011-02-09 13:57 GMT]


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spectrumtransla
Local time: 23:33
Member (2009)
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Counting lines instead of words Feb 9, 2011

Thank you all for your replies.

To answer Michael, the challenge is to set a price per line for a series of technical manuals to translate for the same client (we used to charge per word for this client).

The solution suggested by Kate is indeed simple (Divide the price you calculated previously by the number of lines and you have your price per line) except that it has one major drawback: the price per line will vary for each book, which is not acceptable to the client. We need to establish a set price.

Martin Bordeleau,
Toronto


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Kate Chaffer
Italy
Local time: 05:33
Member (2009)
Italian to English
Average Feb 9, 2011

Try the word to line conversion method on several documents (some of the files to be translated if you have them) and calculate an average.

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Sarah Swift  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:33
German to English
Have a look at Kevin Lossner's blog post from Sunday last Feb 9, 2011

Kevin's recent post

(http://www.translationtribulations.com/2011/02/latest-bdu-rate-survey-and-three-year.html)

discussed the question of comparisons between words and lines, among other things.

Kevin suggests that translators are charging less at word rates than at line rates, and I think there's definitely more than a grain of truth to that. I have certainly caught myself doing so from time to time.


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Wolf Kux  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:33
Member (2006)
German to Portuguese
+ ...
What you may do to count lines is following: Feb 9, 2011

it is funny!

a) Own Office 2010 (or Word 2010);

b) Open your document with Word;

c) Select “Page layout band", click on line numbering, select "continuous" and press Enter.

You may see those line numbers prior to left margin - not all written lines are numbered
but some lines with only spaces are numbered;

c.1) apply c) as many sections are on this document;

Now:

d) Go to the highest line number and annotate it (L);

e) Go back to start of document and count every clear but numbered line until end (E);
you may show more than one page on print preview for this;

f) Next, go back twice to start of document and count every not numbered
but written line (N) - usually such lines are inside tables / cells.

g) Calculate: Lines of document (LOD) = (L) – (E) + (N).

And ...

h) Open your Money bag ...

or

h) Calculate (LOD) x EUROS ($) per line multiplied by 2, divided by 3;
this amount, please send it to me! For better results apply c.1 as many as possible.

[Editada em 2011-02-09 18:46 GMT]


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:33
German to English
Problem solved? Feb 10, 2011

Hello,
Then it really is as simple as Kate's solution, because you have an existing body of data to work with.

Just don't forget to use the proper definition of "line" while converting.

Sincerely,
Michael


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Why make life more complicated than it already is? Feb 10, 2011

The last couple of times potential new customers have asked me to quote by the line, I've just very politely said that I charge by the word. Both times, they've accepted.

The vast majority of translators and translation companies around the world use a per-word system, and using lines is a relic of the pre-wordprocessor era when we used to do manual wordcounts.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:33
German to English
charging by characters vs. words Feb 11, 2011

Hello Phil,
While I don't think that the specifically Germanophone practice of charging by lines is really optimal, I do think that charging by characters instead of words much more accurately reflects the volume of a text (at least in many language pairs). Counting tools/functions also produce identical or near-identical results when counting characters (vs. sometimes significant variations in number of words).

Charging per 1000 characters in the source text seems like a good alternative that seems to be used sometimes in the UK and combines the best of both systems.

Sincerely,
Michael


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Taluy  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 06:33
Member (2009)
German to Turkish
+ ...
Yet another method Apr 9, 2011

This may be a bit late, but still I wanted to let you know about another method of calculating a price per line. The following method was sent to me by a German translation agency and I found it to be very accurate.

1. Take a text that you have already translated and for which you know the price. – e.g.: text with 398 words, price 27.00 EUR.
2. Count the number of characters including spaces using the function "count words" in "Microsoft Office" or "statistics" in "Open Office", e.g. 2,936 characters including spaces.
3. Divide the number of characters by 55, e.g.: 2,936 / 55 = 54 lines. You now have the number of lines.
4. Divide your price by the number of lines, e.g.: 27.00 EUR / 54 lines = 0.50 EUR / lines. You thus obtain your price per line.
5. You enter this in our form like this: 0.50 EUR = 50 Eurocent. Do this for each of your language combinations.

I hope this helps,

Kurt


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xxxIPtranslate
Brazil
English to Dutch
+ ...
Don't agree Apr 9, 2011

philgoddard wrote:

The last couple of times potential new customers have asked me to quote by the line, I've just very politely said that I charge by the word. Both times, they've accepted.

The vast majority of translators and translation companies around the world use a per-word system, and using lines is a relic of the pre-wordprocessor era when we used to do manual wordcounts.


If you translate into a language where as much as possible words are written together, and if you cannot count the source, this counting words is not interesting at all. Also, imagine a text with a lot of chemical formulas that sometimes take up a whole line for just one word!

I personally like the German "Normzeile"principle a lot: count the characters (1 character is, after all, more or less one key stroke) and divide by 55. Result is 1 standard line. Prices for a standard line in my field of expertise start at 0,7 euro. Fair and simple.


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