Sharing the fun and creativity in my world and encouraging the same in yours.

(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:

  1. How difficult is the handwriting/voice or notes to transpose?
  2. Is there special formatting required? (contracts, master’s thesis, dissertation requirements, etc.)
  3. Is this a rush job?
  4. Does the work require proofreading and/or editing?
  5. 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.

Hard at work writing for two blogs, and see that view? Great for thinking and brainstorming!

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 jobPlan ahead!!

The transcriber typing at 90 wpm should be able to have a 250-page project transcribed and proofread in 4 or 5 days, realisticallyIf 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.


Shameless plug–> If you need this type of work done (or any writing, editing, or proofreading), drop me a line to talk about your project.  I’m happy to help…for a reasonable fee, of course.  ;)

UPDATE: As of September 2013, I am only open to freelance proofreading work, (no editing or transcription projects, please).

Copyright 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 – All rights reserved.

Comments on: "How Much Do Typists Charge?" (9)

  1. Lisa, I love your space. It’s so clean! And the view is nice. Happy writing and blogging!

    • Hi Celia, So glad you stopped by. Thank you for your compliments! I really like this theme on WordPress. The font is a little big in the sidebar but that’s okay, makes for very easy reading. lol ~Lisa

  2. Jeri Lynn said:

    Thanks for the info. Helped me price my first job.

  3. How much should I charge to type 550 pages at around 260 words per page?

    • Hi Cathleen, It’s up to YOU what to charge, I’m afraid. I highly suggest re-reading this post. I don’t have all the specifics of the project you’re working with so it could range from $550 up to $2750+ depending upon the details. Pay special attention to “Factors that the typist or transcriptionist considers in their rate quote:”

      In addition to those questions listed, I also don’t know your typing expertise or grammar expertise/education, or technical background. How fast do you type? What is your time worth? You have to decide if you want to charge per hour, per page, or for the entire project. Don’t forget to calculate in the time it takes you to proofread your work before giving it to your client too.

      Get all the facts before making a quote and request a 500-word sample to see what you’re dealing with. Also, find out what OS they’re using: PC or Mac? Do they want it as a .pdf or .doc? Are your systems even compatible?

      You’d be surprised how much clients assume you’ll do within their general request of: “I need this typed.” You need to educate them by asking them detailed questions about their project and their specific needs and expectations.

      The more you do this, the easier it will become. You’ll make mistakes along the way. You’ll learn a lot with each client and will learn the best way/price to charge for yourself. First off, re-read this post, make a list of these questions and any other ones you have with this specific client (and industry) in mind, and ask them! Good luck and I hope this helps. ~ Lisa

  4. I am so glad I found your blog Lisa. I have always wanted to start my own typists job and write for authors. I have a specific group of people that I want to serve. I do not have any specialities like medical for example, but I so want to do this. I type 65 words per hour, but have no experience otherwise. I have never work as a receptionist or executive assistant. This is just a personal goal that I have and want to fulfill. Do you think this is possible? Can I learn what is needed to be learn in 6-8 months? How long does it take to learn everything that comes along with starting my own typists services? Can you refer me to any websites or resources that can put me in the right direction? I would love to hear from you and get your feedback. I have never worked as a executive assistant but would do so if that would take me where I want to go professionally.

    • I meant 65 words per minute, sorry

    • Katia, No worries, I know you meant 65wpm. lol (Most receptionists don’t type so forget about that sort of job. They usually just answer phones, make appts & may do some filing.) I’m not sure if you mean you want to edit or simply type up someone’s manuscript or do both!? And, what is this 6-8 month deadline pertain to? If I may ask, what is your background? Are you a student now? Looking for a career change? The answers will help me figure out how exactly to guide you. You can reply through my Contact Me page with the specifics. Not everyone in the world needs to see your personal information. ;)

      Sometimes when people say ‘typist’, they actually mean ‘proofreader’ or ‘editor’. But as far as starting your own typing service? Make sure you have a reliable computer, printer (you want to print it out to proofread your own work before giving it to your client), internet connection (I assume you do because you wrote here), find out what OS they use so you can e-mail the final product to them successfully (usually Word) and go for it! I am assuming you have a good command of the English language, spelling, grammar, etc. (there are a couple of mistakes in your comments but not anything that worries me too much).

      Spread the word around to family and friends, state your rates and stick to them. You will find most wanna-be authors don’t want to pay (or feel they can’t) for typing services much less proofreading/editing services but the smart ones will. And, unfortunately, the smart ones usually already know how to type. Not all of them but most of them.

      Ask for 50% up-front and 50% upon completion of the job and before you e-mail or send it to them. There’s a lot of little nitty-gritty things but that should get you started.

      IMPORTANT: No one can live off of promises of “You’ll get paid when I get my book published.” or “You’ll get a cut of my royalties when my book sells.” Anyone says that to you, walk away. You’ll never see a dime.

      Also know that I have been and still, occasionally, am a job coach so I do tend to ask a lot of questions. I like to know what and who I’m working with in order to serve you in the best possible manner. I can give you some additional guidelines privately (Contact Me page), but anything more in depth and over the course of a few months, I’ll have to charge you for my time and professional coaching services.

      Please do contact me w/the answers. I am curious to know the specifics of your situation so I can advise you correctly. Oh! Also, please let me know what country you live in and would be working within. Thanks!

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