In South Africa, the cost of translation services (translation, editing and proofreading) is often calculated based on 2 metrics: the number of word in the source document or the number of page in the source document. Each of these methods of calculating the scope of a translation service has its own distinct features, benefits and/or drawbacks. Below we’ll go over these different pricing methods and how each of them work.
Source document: The document provided by the client in need of translation.
Target document: the final translated document.
Page count is a method of calculating the scope of translation based on the number of pages in the source document.
Word count is a method of calculating the scope of translation based on the number of words in the source document.
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Overview of the 2 Models
Per page pricing model
Charging per page is usually only used when the document being translated is in a format where the words cannot be counted digitally. In this case, it’s common for a language service provider to offer a price per page. A good example of this would be any documents that were scanned to a PDF file, such as scanned RFQ document or a power point Presentation.
Per-page price is determined by an estimate number of words on a single page. Per page pricing can be quite expensive and can inflate the cost of translation unfairly. Imagine a document with 3 full pages and another page with just 200 characters. If your translation service provider rounds this number and charges you for 4 pages, you end up overpaying by almost 20%.
Per word pricing model
Pricing translation at a per-word rate is maybe the most common method in the industry, since many translators and companies charge for their services per word. Per-word pricing prevails in the industry because it tends to be the most fair for all parties involved. Paying per word helps you keep project costs in control as opposed to paying a flat fee or per page. However, in order for per-word pricing to be accurate, you should provide the language services company with editable files whenever possible and avoid scanned PDFs.
What is the best pricing model?
Honestly Pricing translation by the word has some advantages: Especially if you charge by the source word, everyone knows up front how much the translation will cost, down to the cent. No surprise overruns to deal with and no estimating how many hours a project will take. Per-word pricing encourages translators to maintain their skills and technology. In some sense, per-word pricing may also drive translation technology innovations, since translators may be more likely to purchase a tool that allows them to work faster. Also, skilled and efficient translators can probably earn more by charging by the word than clients would be likely to pay by page. Per-word pricing also allows translation buyers to compare apples to apples when it comes to evaluate costs because most likely clients will receive more quote based on per word pricing model.
Another thing to look for in per-word pricing is whether you are being charged based on the source or target word count. Let’s say your document is being translated from English into Spanish, and the target word count will increase by roughly 20% in the Spanish version due to expansion. The difference between paying per source as opposed to per target word could have a significant impact on your translation budget, so be aware of that.
Frenchside is a Pretoria-based translation agency with a track record of high quality translation. We strive to offer the lowest prices to guarantee that you never pay over-the-odds for the highest quality translation. There are no languages, volumes or deadlines that can scare us. You will constantly be offered flexible rates, short turnaround time and a diplomatic approach. whether you need a translation of a civil certificate, a complex legal document or a formatted website or technical document we are ready to assist.
We work in French, Portuguese, Spanish and German languages. If you have any questions you’d like to discuss, please give us a call on 012 348 3134/ 0813476060. Alternatively, send us an email to and a member of our friendly team will get back to you.