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The Chinese Word / Character Count


For Chinese text, shall we count the words, or count the characters?

For English, French, Italian and many other Latin languages, we count the "words". But in Chinese, we only count the characters. The so-called "Chinese word count" isn't a precise phrase for us. When we discuss about the "Chinese word count", we are actually referring to the "character count". :-)


How do we count the Chinese characters? Using any special tools?

You don't need to get any special fancy Chinese word-count-checker installed in your PC. The best tool we feel happy with and have confidence in for checking up the Chinese character count of a document is a very simple and common one - the MS Word program of the MicroSoft Office, Chinese version of course (if you have only an English version on your PC, you may not have this feature available). See below screenshot:.


Chinese word count


That pop-up grey box is for the "Word Count Statistics" fuction you can easily found on your MS WORD no matter what language version you have installed in your machine (on-screen text will be in your own language of course, while mine is the Simplified Chinese). The Chinese text line contained in that red box (I put the red box and the comment - you won't see that on your own screen of course) says: "The number of the Chinese characters and Korean words". This is a target translation file in Simplified Chinese. Now we clearly see that this document contains 2,223 Chinese character. But why does it mention "Korean words"? Honestly I don't know either. We may have to ask Mr. Bill Gates.



The Approximate Ratio Between English Word Count and the Chinese Character Count:

Most of the time, we quote based on English word counts (especially when the English is the source text), because many of our clients prefer to have better control over the total costs for their translation projects. What if the original document is in Chinese characters? You don’t know how many words there will be after the document is translated into Chinese, and you don’t have a control over the final cost? Actually, these is a basic ratio between the English word count and Chinese character count we can leverage. To our experience, each 1000 Chinese characters will usually be translated into about 600-700 English words, or each 1000 English words will be translated into about 1500-1700 Chinese characters (depending on the nature of the text). In this regard I have more screen shots for the word / character counts to share with you as below:


The Chinese character count of the source document :   The English word count after translation:
We have 5,062 Chinese characters to translated   It was translated into 3,163 English words


In this example, 5,062 Chinese characters were translated into 3,163 English words, you can easily calculate out a ratio of 1 : 0.62! Or we can say, every 1,000 Chinese character will be "converted" into about 620 English words. But please be aware that this is NOT an exact science that could be applied in all instance - as I suggested, it's only an "approximate" ratio that would give you some basic ideas for the volume of your English outputs! It really does depend on the subject materials and the final count could still vary significantly!


Not confident to make your own estimation on a Chinese document? Not too sure about the Chinese word count ( character count) of your materials? Send the file to us and let us do the job for you:


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