How to calculate translation time
Thread poster: Sandra Sol Rodrigo (X)

Sandra Sol Rodrigo (X)
Local time: 11:35
French to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 8, 2008

Hello everybody.

I have a question about how to calculate the time of the translations. Now I work for a company where I write software handbooks, usually in Spanish, but sometimes I'm asked to traslate some documents from Spanish into English. When my boss asks me about the time I need, I use to count 2000 words per day (8 hours) in EN->ES sense, but I have to add extra time if it's ES->EN and if it's not my speciality (I'm a Telecommunications Engineer). Can anybody help me a little bit?

Thank you very much.


savaria (X)
Local time: 11:35
English to Hungarian
+ ...
My advice Aug 8, 2008

First of all,you should only accept translations related to telecommunication,if that is the only field you are expert in.And in the meantime,you should dig yourself into other fields of expertise,to be able to accept more jobs.


ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:35
English to French
+ ...
Try this Aug 8, 2008

I have been using WorkCoach for a short while and I really like it. It measures the time you actively spend on a process in your computer, that is, the time you are actively viewing or working in a specific application/window. You need to set it up to monitor the processes you use for translating. The processes I set up for translation are Workbench, TagEditor, my browser (I specify the pages I use for translation research individually, so when I take a break and get lost on ProZ or read the online newspaper, that doesn't count) and my e-mail client for communicating with the client that gave me my current job.

Every time I toggle to a different window, WorkCoach starts monitoring the new window and stops monitoring the old window. At the end of the day, I just need to add it all up and I know exactly how much time I spent translating. Not only that, but I know also what proportion of the total time taken was actually used for translation, and what proprtion of the time was spent on term search, research, writing e-mail to the client, etc.

You can compare the time you spent in front of the computer with the total time used for translation activities - and you can get a pretty accurate idea of how much you procrastinate in front of the computer in a day.

In your case, this may not be the best method, because you need to tell your boss in advance how long you will take, and you can't just tell him you took longer after the project is finished. However, you can monitor your translation activities for just an hour and then tell the boss how long you think it will take based on an hour of WorkCoach monitoring. Also, keep monitoring your work this way even if you already gave your boss an estimate. This will help you to really know your speed on different subject matters and language pairs, so that next time you have to estimate a job, you will be able to do so with more accuracy.

WorkCoach can be downloaded free at

All the best!

[Edited at 2008-08-08 17:03]


Stephanie Sirot (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:35
English to French
+ ...
I somewhat agree Aug 8, 2008


You should be careful with the type of translation you accept. You need to make sure that you have knowledge of the subject to translate. You should also only translate into your mother tongue. It will ensure quality.

A good free software to track the time you spend translating is time stamp. It can give you an idea on how long it takes you to translate a document. It will help you determine the time you need more accurately for future projects.



Vito Smolej
Local time: 11:35
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
A good free software to track the time ... is Time Stamp Aug 8, 2008


I am convinced by my own experience that this is the only practical way to gauge your real words per eff. hour productivity.

Btw, Time Stamp is not free software: "Time Stamp is donationware, so please donate whatever you think Time Stamp is worth to you so that it can be made available to others. Donations pay for this web site so that others can download this popular free tool."

[Edited at 2008-08-08 17:58]


Sandra Sol Rodrigo (X)
Local time: 11:35
French to Spanish
+ ...
Thank you everybody Aug 8, 2008

Thank you everybody for your quick responses. About not accepting certain type of jobs, I think I don't have so much options, because it's part of my job (medium company and nobody but me doing this type of job), but I'll try this software you're talking about and try to explain to my boss the difficulties of translation.

Thank you very much againicon_biggrin.gif


Fernando Guimaraes  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:35
German to Portuguese
+ ...
Good average Aug 8, 2008

I think 2000 words in 8 hours is a good average.
I learned German and Portuguese at the same time as first languages and when I work on a technical translation it is inpossible for me to do 2000 words a day, even in the matters I have a good knowledge. I have seen translators who say they can do something like 3000 words a day, thats an amount I think is inrrealistic, but its just my feel. I can do 2000 words a day if it is simple texts, something like we use to do in the school (basic conversation and subjects).
Sometimes even working in a subject we know very well we have to make some reserche, that is time consuming.

Other thing I usually dont do is translate for the language that is not my native language. That´s just to say sorry for my English.



Drew MacFadyen
How to log work time = great Wiki article netry Aug 11, 2008

Viktoria and Vito - please consider making a ProZ Wiki entry on the topic - "How to calcultae translation time"

The main wiki page is located at -

There is a brief page on why and how to make an entry here -

Thank you



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