Understanding Translation Costs

When completing translation projects, is it better to charge by the word or by the hour? While most companies charge by the word, is it the most effective way? Let’s discuss the benefits of both approaches to determine which may be more effective.

The benefit of charging for translations by their word counts is that the price of the service can be determined before hiring a language service provider. Clients can compare the cost of their project’s word count as provided by different companies in order to choose the one that will best meet their needs. Efficient translators may be able to translate more quickly in a shorter amount of time, thus allowing them to earn more money in less time. However, the disadvantage for translators using the word count method is the pre-determined price. By agreeing to work at a set price, translators overlook the time spent working with difficult handwriting or in needing to fix grammar mistakes.

The benefits of charging by hour are the opposite of charging by the word count. Companies who charge by the hour are compensated fairly for their time spent on translations; however, it may discourage time efficiency when translating. A disadvantage of hourly charges is also that rates may be seen as too expensive. For example, a total project cost of $250 sounds more reasonable than charging $250 for one hour of translation.

At Translation Excellence, we charge translations by the word. Because some translators work more quickly than others, we feel it is fair to charge by the word in order to create a professional and equal standard for our translators.

Now that you know a few of the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches involved in translation charges, which do you prefer?



Nisar, the dynamic force behind Translation Excellence, stands tall as its founder and CEO. This isn’t just any company—it’s a global heavyweight in boutique language services. Hailing from the vibrant city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Nisar brought his passion and expertise to the U.S. shores in 2001. In the realm of languages, he’s a titan. With 19 years under his belt, he’s worn hats from a linguist and instructor to a cultural bridge-builder and curriculum craftsman.

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