Our Short Definition
We take a standard page as having 1,500 characters and a standard line as having 55 characters, including spaces in both cases. A standard page consists of around 250 words.
Why have standardised pages and lines?
When dealing with text, standard pages and lines are used for practical reasons, basically as convenient units. Their use enables us to compare one text with another by volume, irrespective of the format. This is important for editors, copyeditors, proof-readers, copywriters, translators, journalists, publishers and others working with text, for whom remuneration depends on the quantity of text worked on or created.
In this way, it is easier to calculate the comparative amount of work done and therefore the payment to be made, since the method of reckoning in standard lines and pages excludes everything except the actual text that has been created or worked on. Illustrations, headers, the amount of footnotes, the format and dimensions of the text, the type of text, and the spacing of the paragraphs play no part in this.
The use of the standard page and line also makes it easier to compare different types of text with each other. Dissertations, which contain a great many footnotes in small print and the frequent use of literary references and cross-references, tend to have more standard pages per physical page than, for instance, journalistic texts.
The Standard Page
In the days of the typewriter, a standard page had 30 lines × 60 keystrokes = 1,800 characters. This definition is occasionally used to this day. Normally, however, the whole page is not filled with text, as paragraphs and headings take up considerable space. Today, a standard page is more commonly defined as having 1,650 or 1,500 characters, which is more realistic. According to the German copyright collecting society VG Wort, the standard page has 1,500 keystrokes. This is the definition that we follow.
The Standard Line
For translation purposes, a standard line traditionally consists of 55 characters, including spaces. This is sometimes also calculated at 50 characters per line. Translation services cost more than proof-reading and copyediting services. Using the smaller billing unit, a more precise valuation of the volume of text can be made.
How it works in practice
Let us say that we receive an extract from a dissertation, 14 ISO-standard A4 pages, as a sample text for an estimate on which to base a quotation. It contains 36,924 characters plus spaces. This means that the sample text consists of 36,924 ÷ 1500 ≈ 25 standard pages.
The total work will comprise 200 ISO-standard A4 pages. We calculate:
200 ÷ 14 × 25 ≈ 357. In preparing our quotation, we can therefore assume that the text in its entirety will have around 350 standard pages.