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NUJ Freelance Fees Guide
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Translators are an undervalued bunch. We fear that the rates they can command are affected by the fact that people who have never done a serious translation have no idea what it is they do, or that it often requires as much intellectual effort as it took to say or write the thing in its first language.

The law, though, does recognise their effort, in theory. A translation is a copyright work just as much as the original is. The difference is that there are two copyrights (or two sets of authors' rights) in translations: those of the original author and those of the translator. Translators should ensure that their client is responsible for securing the permission of the original author, where needed, to make the translation. Anyone who wants to use the translation needs the permission of both the orginal author and the translator.

Software packages are getting better at producing rough first drafts; but producing a finished translation is and always will be an exercise involving an understanding of the cultures behind the source and target languages. Clients may need to be reminded that if there were software that could produce a publishable translation, it would by definition be capable of doing their job as well.


A few journalists also do interpretation of spoken language. This is a quite different skill to translating written material, and if anything requires a more thorough understanding of the source language and the cultures associated with it. Simultaneous interpreters insist on strictly limited stints between rest breaks - on strong health grounds.

Public Lending Right

Translators of books are entitled to a share of Public Lending Right payments and need to register with Public Lending Right UK to be sure of receiving this: see Rights and why they are important.

§ See: Suggested schedule of cancellation fees

Notes on negotiating rates for strtolower(Translation)

These are some things to remember when negotiating rates for translation. And please send us your accounts of successful negotiations:

Not all clients appreciate the amount of knowledge, experience and work involved in producing a faithful and fluent translation. It would be a good idea to find someone else who speaks more than one language to negotiate with, since monoglots are more likely to hold the false belief that the work is mechanical.

The suggested rates: strtolower(Translation

The rates for text translation are suggested as minima for the translation of 1000 words of non-technical material into English. See the notes below for important qualifications.

Rates depend on how exotic the source language is, with respect to English. See the language groups.

Simultaneous on- or off-air interpreting - Broadcasting -
Full day or a half day that includes unsociable hoursGBP480.00
Half dayGBP280.00
Into English - Text - category: 1
National newspapers or TV, per 1000 wordsGBP125.00
Magazines, per 1000 wordsGBP110.00
Books, per 1000 wordsGBP100.00
Into English - Text - category: 2
National newspapers or TV, per 1000 wordsGBP145.00
Magazines, per 1000 wordsGBP135.00
Books, per 1000 wordsGBP120.00
Into English - Text - category: 3
National newspapers or TV, per 1000 wordsGBP165.00
Magazines, per 1000 wordsGBP150.00
Books, per 1000 wordsGBP135.00
Into English - Text - category: 4
National newspapers or TV, per 1000 wordsGBP180.00
Magazines, per 1000 wordsGBP156.00
Books, per 1000 wordsGBP150.00
Into English - Text - category: 5
National newspapers or TV, per 1000 wordsGBP195.00
Magazines, per 1000 wordsGBP180.00
Books, per 1000 wordsGBP165.00

Notes: translation / all / all

  • For specialist and technical work and translation of English into another language add at least 10 per cent - rather more for legal text.
  • Count formulae and symbols forming part of continuous text at the rate of five figures or symbols for one word.
  • Translators should charge extra, by the hour, for academic publications and those books that require them to research "official" versions of quotations.
  • Add 20 per cent for rushed jobs.
  • Some French and German publishers may withhold tax from the payment. To avoid this, the local Income Tax Inquiry Office can provide a form (an RF3 in France), to be completed annually and sent to the publisher. Not all French and German publishers require this form, however, and it is best to inquire when signing the contract.
  • Translation between English and American varies between £35 and £45 per thousand words.

§ See: Suggested schedule of cancellation fees

This is updated to 2020-10-31 14:00:00; if you have a printout, check the current version at

Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to please. You may find the glossary helpful.

The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.

Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.