The request “page translation” on the search engines brings up at the top of the list all kinds of links to online translators offering free translation of a word, a phrase, a page or an entire book. But our article is for those who are interested in how to calculate translation pages correctly. What is a standard page? What do translators or translation agencies mean when they write “1 page translation” on their price lists? And so on.
Evaluating the work of a translator
Evaluating the work of a turner is quite simple – how many parts the turner has made, turned out, drilled, so many units recorded by the master and for this amount the turner gets paid. Evaluating the work of a translator is a little more difficult. Some try to evaluate the work according to the time spent for translation, counted in astronomical hours. How much per hour you translate, that is how much you will be paid? But one translator’s speed may be different from another. Moreover, all texts are totally different. It is impossible to measure the effort and compare the time spent on one simple text with the time spent on a much more complex highly specialized text. This is why we use a word or character count per page with the price list fixing a multiplier for the increasing complexity of the translation.
Standard translation page
According to Microsoft Word statistics, the most common translation page in our country is the one containing 1800 characters including spaces. Why Word? It is because other word processors, such as free OpenOffice and LibreOffice, produce different figures, sometimes significantly different from Word. By the way, programmes for automatic calculation of the number of characters on a page (AnyCount, TotalCount, etc.) also show considerable discrepancies. This is why a Wordboard page has been adopted as a standard.
Why does a page contain spaces? Because a translator does not translate spaces, but charges for them? Because whitespace is a sign, just like a punctuation mark. It is what separates words and sentences and if a translator will give you a text without spaces, you will have to put them in yourself. And given that you may not be familiar with the foreign language, this is not going to be an easy task.
Why 1800 characters with spaces, not 1900? We will not go into lengthy stories about the fact that in Soviet times, typists had these rules, the characters in the standard pages typed in 14 point font with one and a half space, about this is already written a lot. It’s just that over time this standard has been established, that’s all. There are clever among translation agencies who indicate in the price list of low cost translation pages, and then the small text reported that the standard page they have equal to 1000 characters with spaces. When you order a quote for a translation, it turns out that the final cost is much higher than the price they charged initially at 1,800 characters. This is a marketing ploy irrelevant to this article.
How do I count characters per page or per translation? There are some widely divergent opinions among translation agencies. On the one hand, those who consider a translator’s work to be a translation are right. Because that is how many characters and how many pages they translate. This option is also convenient when the source text is difficult to read or difficult to read, e.g. badly recognized files, handwritten text, writings in schemes and pictures, and so on. But on the other hand, a client has the right to know the exact cost of the translation before working on their project. In order to calculate their budget and their effort. So that they won’t find themselves in a position where they cannot afford to pay the translator due to insufficient budget allocated to the project. The customer is always right! This is why our translation agency considers it right to calculate the price of a translation precisely based on the source text, before working on it. The only exceptions are translations from Eastern languages, where there is a lack of correspondence between the number of characters in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and some other languages with our conventional symbols of European languages, including Russian. In these cases translations are always counted in Russian, even if this is not the language of the source text. As a consolation we can inform our clients only about the method of very approximate translation of the number of characters into our characters with spaces. So, the number of Chinese characters should be multiplied by 3.5-4 to get approximately the number of characters with spaces in translation. This means that somewhere between 450 and 500 Chinese characters will make up our standard page – 1800 characters with spaces.