International Standard Translation Rate Conversion

by Ilaria
(Milan, Italy)

I would like to know if there is an international standard conversion rate between pages, rows, words, characters to use to compare different translation suppliers that have price lists based on different unit volumes.


Answered by

I have never heard of an international standard translation rate conversion tool. To my mind, it doesn't exist. There is commercial software (, US$59.95) offered for language professionals. It helps to count words, characters, lines, etc. and to make invoices, but I don’t think that the translation client should pay for such software to figure out and compare the rates of translation service providers.

I know a couple of other, free, translation rate conversion tools. However, they are neither standard, nor official. There is no guarantee that they will provide you with accurate estimates reflecting the actual translation prices on the translation market.

The first tool is on the page It works only for EU official languages (only for 11 EU languages of 23 official and working EU languages). This tool helps to convert rates only between words, characters with spaces, and characters w/o spaces. If your language pair is covered by this tool, then the tool may be of some help to you. This tool does not require you to specify a currency.

The second tool is on the page It is possible to use it for any language pair. It converts the translation rate per word into other units such as pages of 1800, 1500, 1370 and 1,250 characters, lines of 60, 55 and 50 characters, and into the rate per 1 character (or a keystroke). This tool actually calculates irrespective of currency.

Comparing translation rates of different translation agencies using a conversion tool seems to me too time-consuming and unreliable. Why not contact a dozen of translation companies directly? Let say you want to pay for the translation per word. Ask them for quote in your preferred unit. It is the simplest and most reliable way to compare the rates, really.

As a freelance translator, I translate for translation agencies from different countries with different translation pricing traditions and all of these agencies agree to pay me for my work based on my preferred unit, that is based on word. (By the way, word is the most commonly used unit nowadays.) So, if they can pay the translator based on the translator's preferred unit, they definitely can send a client a quote based on the client's preferred unit.

My advice: Do not hesitate and request a free translation quote based on the unit in which you are willing to pay. Then compare the quotes.

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