To those outside the industry, the world of translation can be a confusing one. So can be 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, per character, per thousand words, or, in some cases, per hour. Some translators even offer a flat fee for the whole project. 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.

Charging Per Word vs. Per Hour

Perhaps the two most popular pricing structures in the translation industry are charging per word and per hour. 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 you are charged per 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 or Per Line

Charging per page or per line is usually only the case when the document that needs translating 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.

If your translator has decided they’ll be charging per line, this is what you should know:

  • 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—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

In Italy, on the other hand, a common price unit is the CARTELLA. The cartella counts about 25 lines of 50/55 characters (more or less 330/340 words).

Cost of a translation can vary

When The Cost of a Translation is Per Character or Thousand Words

This is usually the case in literary translation. Also, it is a useful approach for character-based languages such as Chinese, Japanese, etc.

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 Translation Services, 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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