To those outside the industry, the world of translation can be a confusing one, as well as estimating the cost of a translation. There are many elements that are totally unique to language service providers in how they function and how they provide clients with work. From translation technology to specialised translation, the aspects to consider when choosing a pricing structure are many and varied.

What Ways Can Your Translator Determine the Cost of a Translation?

For language service providers, there are a number of ways to go about charging their clients: per page, per word, per line or, in some cases, per hour. Each method is effective for the language service provider in different cases. As a client, you should make it your business to understand the pricing structures in place when you decide to work with a language service provider or freelance translator.

man estimating the cost of a translation

Charging Per Line

Perhaps the two most popular pricing structures in the translation industry are charging per word and per line. While each is extremely effective for both language service providers and their clients, they can be called into use at different times. Also, it’s important to consider the source and target texts of a project.

If charging by the line, Joanna Scudamore-Trezek explains the following:

  • According to the official European standard DIN 2345, 1 Line = 55 Characters (incl.spaces) in the Target Language (TL)

The tricky bit starts when we try comparing rates for words and lines: how many words are there in a line? Well, assuming a line is 55 characters with spaces, we can generally assume that:

  • German text:  1 line = roughly 8 word

But as English words tend to be a little shorter (nothing really comparable to Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften – insurance companies providing legal protection – the longest German word in everyday use according to the Guiness Book of World Records), it means we get more of them in our 55 character (with spaces) line:

  • On average, English text:  1 line = roughly 9 or 10 words

That means that a translation will cost less if charged by the source (German) text rather than the target (English) text.

Charging Per Word

When charging by word, whether your translator takes 2 hours or 10 hours, you pay the same price. This tends to be the most popular and fair pricing structure for translators and clients alike.

However, in linguistic tasks such as transcreation or creative translation, charging per word doesn’t make much sense. The reason? Because transcreating, say, a 5-word slogan could take hours of work. For such jobs, your translator will probably charge you by the hour.

Charging Per Page

Charging per page is usually only used when the document being translated is in a format where the words cannot be counted digitally such as medical or legal documents. In this case, it’s common for a language service provider to offer a price per page. Though the word count may vary on each page, the standard price protects the translator for the extra time it may take to decipher any handwriting or discrepancies on the page, as they wouldn’t be as clear as digital content.

Cost of a translation can vary

Other Expenses in Translation

At times, you may incur in extra fees during the translation of your project. They are usually for things such as a short turnaround time, working outside of office hours, particularly difficult texts and complex formats. In these cases, your language service provider may add the fee to the invoice to compensate for the extra time or effort your project required.

At Crisol Translations, we pride ourselves on our 100% transparency in pricing structures for our clients. For a quote on your project or document, email us at info@crisoltranslations.com or send us a message here.


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