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Keeping Track of Date and Time with Excel and Other Ways to Clock Your Work

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There are a number of ways for translators to invoice their clients. We can either invoice by the number of source or target words, the number of source or target characters, or by the amount of hours that we spend on a certain task. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, but each method also has room for improvement. Look for tips for counting words and characters in the "Upgrade Your Tools" section, and read on right here for a couple of hints on how to make it easier to clock the amount of time you spend.

The most common way to log the time that we spend on an individual task is probably in an Excel spreadsheet. A few things that have made it easier for me to keep track of my time are two keyboard shortcuts:

- CTRL+; to enter the current date and
- CTRL+SHIFT+: to enter the current time.

A preconfigured spreadsheet with rows of fields for client, date, start time, end time, and rate requires the entry of relatively little information. If you then add fields such as total time (formula: =SUM(<end time field>-<start time field>) – the <enclosed fields> have to be replaced with the cell designator in the spreadsheet, such as A1, B2, etc. – and amount (formula: =((<total time field>*1440)/60)*<rate field>), your other data is automatically generated.

While it is possible to record your time in this manner, there are little programs out there that make this a lot easier. Time Stamp (see is a free program (supported by optional donations) which allows you to track the start and end time for projects you are currently working on with a click on a button in your task bar. It is even possible to have several instances of the program running simultaneously so you can switch back and forth between different projects that you may be working on. Once you are completely done, all the time that is spent on each project is summed up and can either be printed out or saved as a text file. This is a nifty little program that requires neither a lot of computer resources nor a lot of time to learn.




© International Writers' Group. Excerpt from the Tool Kit Newsletter, a biweekly newsletter for people in the translation industry who want to get more out of their computers. For more information see

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