Pricing Methods in Translation

Pricing Methods in Translation

Are you in need of translation, and wondering how you might be charged? The pricing of language services can vary, and it's essential to understand how and why pricing structures are the way they are. Here, we will briefly explore some of the oft seen pricing strategies and look to grasp the nuances of each.

Per Source Word

Pricing per word, specifically per source word (the original text's word count), is perhaps the most common and straightforward approach. Charging per word ensures clarity to all parties, after all, pages can vary significantly in content, from minimal text to extensive margins. By applying a per word rate, clarity, in theory, reigns supreme.

Pricing per source word, as opposed to per target word (the word count of the translated text), is preferred because it provides all parties with a clear understanding of the precise cost. It also assures that there won't be any unnecessary insertion of words to inflate prices. It is not always possible to provide an accurate per word rate however, such as when the source files are actually non-editable graphics or scans – yet, an estimated word rate might still be appropriate.

Per Project

This approach makes sense when the scope of a project and expectations, can be reasonably anticipated. For instance, a 10-page document can vary significantly in complexity, from a simple header to highly technical content. Charging per project might simply and decision-making and sign off process, as calculating costs based on a per-word rate is no longer needed. Instead, a straightforward project cost is provided. Providing a fixed project rate might help streamline a client's decision where in a project contains multiple file types and contents, making a per word rate either difficult to determine or unrealistic.

Per Hour

Such pricing may be appropriate where an assignment is extremely limited in scope, i.e. would take less than an hour to complete, or may involve some tricky tasks such as formatting or transcreation where a word rate might be inappropriate or impractical.

However, there are only 24 hours in a day, pricing based on an hourly rate could be limiting in terms of daily potential and there may therefore be potential for worry over inefficiency wherein there is potentially no incentive to complete work quickly. More often than not, a minimum charge may be applied to cover projects with extremely limited scope, with per hour pricing applied in instances where it is otherwise impossible to generate a word rate, such as for extensive DTP/MMS tasks.

Minimum Price

Not really a stand-alone strategy, but rather used in compliment with aforementioned approaches. A minimum price tends to be put in place to cover the additional ‘non-billable’ hours that a customer does not see – the time spent preparing quotations, the pre- and post- processing of files, doing the accounting, the project management aspects that invariably are necessary for the effective and accurate discharge of quality translation.

IMD Translation

At IMD Translation our default and standard approach to pricing is per source word, to ensure clarity for all parties. We also have a minimum charge for projects with extremely limited scope. Other factors that might affect that pricing include, but are not limited to, source file type and quality, subject matter/legal practice area, language pair, preferred turnaround time, and overall volume. To understand our pricing further, click here.

In Legal Matters, Language Matters – if you need a translation, get in touch with us for a no-obligation quotation at