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About the Word Counts

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Have you ever received quotes for a project from multiple language vendors, only to discover that the word counts were different? Or perhaps you handle your own word counts, yet they never seem to match up with what is charged on the final document. Understanding word counts for translation projects can actually be difficult if you don’t know how your vendor collects them.

Are word counts collected from the source file or the translated file? There are a number of ways a translation company can charge based on word counts: by number of words in the source file, number of words in the final file, or number of words in the English files, be it source or final.

What are the expansion rates per language? When a translation vendor charges based on the word count of the final file, quotes must take into consideration expansion rates of that language. For example, when translating into German, your English document expands to include a larger of number words. Translation companies will charge anywhere from 20 to 35% more on the quote in consideration of that expansion. For example, if your source file contains 500 English words, and your vendor charges based on final file, they will quote you for 600 words.

How do repetitive segments affect word counts? All words will still be counted, but you should receive a quote breakdown of how many segments are new, fuzzy, or repetitive, along with pricing for each. If you are getting quotes from multiple vendors and know translation memory will be used on your project, be sure to get this breakdown up front from each of them.

How do non-editable files, such as PDFs, affect word counts? If your PDFs were created from the original files, text can still be easily analyzed, providing a highly accurate word count with less than a 1% discrepancy. If your PDFs were scanned, your vendor will use optical character recognition (OCR) to assess the file. This can increase the discrepancy rate due to errors in character recognition, depending on the quality of the PDF.

How are word counts extracted from other DTP formats, such as FrameMaker and InDesign? Your translation vendor will run an analysis on those files using computer-automated translation (CAT) tools, which will produce a quick, highly accurate word count. If they contain graphics that are uneditable, those words will not be included in a word count unless they are manually added.

When getting word counts on foreign language documents that will be translated into English, are Roman numerals and English text in the source counted? Yes, when a foreign language document is being translated into English, everything that is contained in the final English translation is counted. If the English words or numbers are not included, the context will change and the integrity of the documented will be compromised.

So how does McElroy do it? We would love to tell you! Email us at info@mcelroytranslation.com or give as a call at 1-800-531-9977, and we can provide more details specific to your translation project.

Published - March 2012

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