Calculating your line count – the origin of the 65-character line

The increasing tendency to outsource your administrative tasks comes the next question – how much do you pay?

When it comes to transcription, there are many different methods of calculating the fees for this service – number of keystrokes, gross lines, net lines, per audio minutes, gross pages.  We’ve looked at a comparison of all these methods and the pros and cons of each when it comes to specialist transcription.  Overall, the most generally accepted calculation based on a rate “per line” where one line equals 65 characters.  Some organisations vary how many characters make up a line (some calculated with 55, others up to 80 characters per line); however, the industry standard is 65.

With the advent of computers and the easy options to changing fonts, font sizes, space between lines and page margins, the total number of lines or pages typed became very subjective.  Not to mention providing the opportunity for parties to manipulate the end result – selecting a different font (Arial 11 pt overall is a larger font than Calibri 11 pt which is larger than TNR 11 pt), larger font size (12 pt v 11 pt), wider margins, all increased the number of lines and pages created.  Similarly selecting a smaller font, font size and narrower page margins enables more text to fit on a line and, ultimately, a page.  This was all well and good for most and allowed flexibility, but how do we find common ground?  A standard needed to be found and 65 characters per line is that standard.

But where did this figure of 65 come from?  Well, this is where we need to go back to the era of the typewriter and the standard page sizes (and the origin of the US Letter and A4 page sizing is interesting in itself).

Typewriters used monospaced fonts – every character and/or space took up exactly the same width and, on average, 10 characters and/or spaces would fill 1 horizontal inch on the page.  Using the standard US Letter page size (8.5” x 11”) and with a standard 1” (2.5 cm) margin, a standard line contained 65 characters and/or spaces.

So there you have it.  My Typing Service use the standard 65 characters per line as the basis for their technical transcription although hourly rates or audio minute rates are the standard for nontechnical transcripts and are also available for technical transcription on request.  Contact Annaliese to discuss you needs


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Annaliese Arndt
Phone 0407 237 103

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Cardiac Health Institute

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