Prices Per Source Word Count

We are all well aware of how strongly budgets affect the decisions of all companies, even the largest, and for all suppliers, including suppliers of translations.

This is why the creation of translation budgets must be done with as much accuracy and precision as possible.

In the translation industry, the translation itself is not available when the translation budget is created; only the source is at hand. As a result, it is apparent that the most ethically transparent and commercially correct approach for creating the budget is to consider the number of words present in the text in the source language.

The resulting translation, in its final version, will have a different word count than that source. Depending on the source and target languages, there are different levels of text expansion or contraction in the translation process.

To provide one example of the differences in the word count between the source and translated documents, here is a sample sentence in Spanish and English:

Source text: For further information please contact our Sales Department. (8 words)

Translation: Para recibir mayor información, contáctese con nuestro Departamento de Ventas. (10 words)

Advantages of setting prices according to source language

  • the budget is real, since it is based on the source document, which is available to everyone;
  • the budget is prepared immediately, since there is no waiting for the translation in order to calculate the costs of the work;
  • the budget is ethical, since it is based on observable and measurable material.

Drawbacks for setting prices according to target language

  • the budget is not real, since it is based on future projections;
  • the budget is only created late in the process, since its accuracy depends on the translation end product;
  • the budget is debatable, since it is based on calculations and projections that may be incorrect or not in line with what actually is produced.

Cases where the only choice is to set the prices according to the word count of the target language

There are some exceptions to the criteria listed above:

  • translation of an audio file without a word count;
  • translation from an Asian language;
  • proofreading.

For more details on the way to obtain a price for a translation project that is fair for the client and the supplier, visit our translation rates page, which contains information on translation prices per word.

Text contraction and expansion for different language pairs

Depending on the pair of languages (source and target) required for a specific translation project we are quoting, calculating the price per word of the source language and not per word of target language reduces costs at times and at other times increases them. The following are a few examples of the average contraction and expansion percentages for some common language pairs:

English to Spanish: 20% expansion

English to Portuguese (Brazil): 20 to 30% expansion

Portuguese (Brazil) to English (U.S.): 10 to 15% contraction

Spanish to English: 15% contraction

English to French: 15 to 20% expansion

English to German: 5 to 20% contraction

English to Italian: 15% expansion

English to Portuguese (Eur.): 20 to 30% expansion

French to English: 10 to 15% contraction

German to English: 5 to 40% expansion

Italian to English: 15% contraction

Portuguese (Eur.) to English: 10 to 15% contraction

Spanish to English: 15% contraction

Again, these figures are averages for contraction and expansion for the language pairs. To create an exact budget for your translation project, please send us the documents involved to receive a free quote from Trusted Translations If the project involves a large amount of words, we will offer a free translation test so that you can evaluate the quality of our translation services and observe the contraction or expansion of the relevant text(s).