(Updated: 10/30/2014. Although fees for transcription work haven’t changed in the last three years, I did add a couple of qualitative statements to update this post for accuracy’s sake.)
In August 2011, @literaticat posed a question I’ve often seen. As I tweeted, my Virgo side came out in me, (which is very easily done since I am a Virgo), and I inundated her with information. I thought it would be of interest to others asking this same question, hence, this post.
She asked, “Do you pay by the page or by the hour? How much?” and “How long…” would it take someone to type 250 pages? Like all things in life, there are general guidelines and rules and there are always exceptions to those rules. This is one of those cases.
In my experience, most typists (someone who transcribes work from tape or paper to computer), proofreaders, and editors charge by page. There are some, however, who do charge by hour.
Also, depending upon the project and client, sometimes they will calculate a fee for the entire project for you, if it’s more convenient. Many variables go into that lump sum project fee.
If it is strictly transcribing with no proofreading or editing needed, the going rate looks to be about $1.50-$5.00 per page. Most of the freelance writers I know charge between $1.50-$3.00 per page* for straightforward transcription services.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: This cost per page means per finished page. If you give your typist 10 pages and it results in 12 finished pages (after editing, proper formatting, etc.), you pay for 12 pages.
Factors that the typist or transcriptionist considers in their rate quote:
- How difficult is the handwriting/voice or notes to transpose?
- Is there special formatting required? (contracts, master’s thesis, dissertation requirements, etc.)
- Is this a rush job?
- Does the work require proofreading and/or editing?
- Is it in a specialized field where one needs to learn or already know the jargon like in the medical or technical industry?
These are just some of the many questions you can expect to be asked and which need to be answered to calculate the cost of your project, whether by page or by hour.
The industry standard in the writing world is 250 words per page even though we all know there are some books out there in a variety of new sizes these days.
Let’s go with 250 words per page divided by 90 wpm (words-per-minute) = 2.78 minutes per page x 250 pages = 695 minutes = 11.58 hours.
So, it would cost $375 at $1.50 per page for 250 pages to be typed and it would take about 12 hours to complete.
Sounds like a lot but these figures are actually lower than what some transcribers are charging and getting paid, according to the EFA: Editorial Freelancers Association. For example, in a highly specialized market and the knowledge needed, technically and/or medically, some freelancers charge $5.00 per page: 250 pages x $5.00 = $1250.
Now, the amount of time it would take someone to type 250 pages has a few factors involved. Along with those 12 hours, you, as the client, need to add in several hours for the typist to proofread their own work to give you quality results. And that’s what you want, right? Quality results.
Don’t forget to consider that you can’t expect someone to type 4-to-8 hours consecutively, non-stop. Ever hear of carpal tunnel, my friends? It’s painful and I speak from more than 35 years of professional typing experience as an executive secretary and writer doing transcription, proofreading, editing, and writing work for a variety of people and companies.
You don’t want to rush the job so much that the person puts in 3-to-4 hours of straight typing only to have carpal tunnel set in and they can’t finish the rush job. Plan ahead!!
The transcriber typing at 90 wpm should be able to have a 250-page project transcribed and proofread in 4 or 5 days, realistically. If they can give you the completed work sooner, then great!! 🙂
For comparison, someone who types 45 wpm would need almost 24 hours to type these same 250 pages. They would probably need 7 or 8 days to complete transcription and proofreading.
Please do visit the Editorial Freelancers Association to see in a clear table form the range of fees typists (transcribers), proofreaders, editors, writers charge. Remember, you are paying this person for their training, years of experience, expertise, time, and effort as well as for their knowledge and usage of the English language. Appreciate these facts when quoted a price-per-page or price-per-hour.
To put things into perspective for those thinking that $1.50 per page is too much: 30+ years ago, I typed pages (on a typewriter!!!) while in college for other students and I charged $1.00 per finished page which included light editing and proofreading.
So I don’t think $1.50 per page for transcribing your work** into a clear format onto a computer in the year 2014 is bad at all for an error-free, white-out free, permanent electronic piece of work. It’s actually on the extremely reasonable end of the range!
**Again, it’s important to note that the cost per finished page increases if you want your project proofread, edited, and corrected, and/or if there are any other special requirements and/or factors involved.
Note: All of these calculations and figures are guesstimates based on a number of outlined factors and not on an individual client’s or transcriptionist’s needs, requirements, expertise, and talent. These figures are provided strictly as some sort of guideline for those interested in hiring a transcriptionist/typist. I hope they are helpful.
UPDATE: As of 2015, I am no longer taking any editing, proofreading, transcription, typing, or writing work.
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