Translation in Practice: Converting between Word Price and Line Price

The price for a translation is quoted as a price per word or per line. Unit prices are only comparable if they are referenced to the same unit. Here you will learn how you can convert a unit price to a different unit.

There are two camps in the translation business. One camp bills on a line basis, the other on a word basis.

Each of the two variants has its advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the country, one or the other variant is used more often. Our impression is that billing per word has been increasing for some years now.

At PTS, we bill per line in the source language. A line consists of 50 characters. On request we also bill per word.

Is it possible to convert from a line basis to a word basis and vice versa?

Yes!

We have statistically analysed hundreds of texts. The average word length was determined for each of at least 100 technical texts, each containing at least 1000 words. The median value was then calculated from these results, thereby filtering out statistical outliers. For the statisticians among you, we have additionally given the number of texts analysed and the standard deviation.

The average word length is probably also dependent on the type of text. As an engineering office specialising in the translation of technical texts, exclusively texts from technical areas from our work over the last few years were available to us for this analysis.

Our regular languages

Average word length
[number of characters]

Number of texts analysed

Standard deviation
[%]

German

6.8

>5,000

6.2

English

5.4

>1,000

6.5

French

5.4

>1,000

4.5

Italian

5.8

>1,000

4.5

Dutch

6.0

>500

6.5

Russian

6.7

>300

6.5

Spanish

5.3

>1,000

4.0

 

Conversion from word price to line price

Line price = word price x line length / average word length

Example

Language German and word price €0.16.

Line price = 0.16 x 50 / 6.8 = €1.18/line

Conversion from line price to word price

Word price = line price x average word length / line length

Example

Language English and line price €1.30.

Line price = 1.30 x 5.4 / 50 = €0.14/word

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