Typing and what it involves


Copy Typing

Copy Typing is when you are just typing what is written, this can be hand-written or from PDF. Examples of copy typing are:

  • Books (small books)
  • Contracts
  • Agreements
  • Leases
  • Company documentation
  • PDFs
  • Student Assignments etc.

A document with many bullet points or staggered bullet points and tabulation is just plain copy typing.


Bulk Typing

Bulk typing is when there is a lot of typing work to be done. This can be hand-written or from PDFs. Bulk typing is basically any large typing job with many pages in it. Examples of bulk typing are:

  • Manuals
  • Training Manuals
  • Books
  • Manuscripts etc.

With bulk typing, often a client will ask you to lower your rate (whether you use price per page/price per manual). Look at how long it will take you to type the work and judge how far to lower your rate based on this.


Converting PDFs

Sometimes to save time we convert PDFs into Microsoft Word documents and so we do not have to type the document out. This is only really effective if there are few pages and it is just plain text, no graphics, no tables, no columns, etc. involved. When PDFs that have graphics, tables, columns, etc. are converted the document layout and everything is thrown out and it takes even longer to fix it than it would have had you typed it out. In the end with all the problems, you have undercharged for the job. Look if it is worth converting first before converting.



Document formatting refers to the way a document is laid out on the page—the way it looks and is visually organized—and it addresses things like font selection, font size and presentation (like bold or italics), spacing, margins, alignment, columns, indentation, and lists. (from https://ohiostate.pressbooks.pub/feptechcomm/chapter/8-formatting/).

When basing what to charge for formatting, look at the time it will take and how much formatting that document will need. Look at also how many people have formatted and edited the document before you as this will impact your formatting. I have experienced this multiple times where I start formatting a document to have it all throw out the layout along the way, change the indexing/tabulation/numbering/spacing/font anywhere in the document and everything changes to what it wants to be and where it wants to place itself. Please tell the client that this can make a document take longer to format.

Equations also make a document layout throw out so, if you have a document that has equations in it please tell the client it will take longer due to this.


Student Formatting/Editing

Student typing and formatting requires more involvement with the typing/formatting. Student typing can be assignments for 1st to 3rd-year students (longer depending on the student’s studies), MBAs, Masters, Honours, or Ph.D.

References (includes in-text and bibliography) need to be set out in specific styles depending on university/college guidelines i.e. APA 6th Edition, Harvard Business Method, SALJ, etc. If you set this out wrong the student can lose big marks which can result in them not getting their degrees etc.

To find out what the guidelines are for that student, ask them for the guidelines their professor gave them, every student should be given guidelines for their assignments, etc. Follow the guidelines to the letter, DO NOT use it as a suggestion of what to do. The guidelines are not just for reference, it is everything in the document including font, tables, figures, margins, spacing, alignment, columns, etc. but note this is the whole document not just a small portion of it. Also, students are required to produce journal articles and these articles need to also adhere to their manuscript guidelines.

Do not overcharge or undercharge students. Look at what is involved and charge them a standard student rate. Some students are given bursaries that actually cover typing, editing, and proofreading costs, so be aware of this and ask the student about this first before you even quote them.


Graphs, Charts, Tables and Flow Diagrams

When taking on clients that have graphs, charts, tables, and flow diagrams in their documents, look at where the graphs/charts/tables/flow diagrams are from e.g. are they made in Microsoft Word/Excel/PowerPoint or are they their own graphs, has the graph/chart/table/flow diagram got to be scanned and put in the document; look at the time it takes to do this and edit them.

Also look at whether a graphic designer is needed for graphics, if one is needed include that in the rate you give the client as they also need to be paid and tell the client a graphic designer will need to be involved and why they need to be involved. Note the time that it takes to do these graphs, charts, tables, and flow diagrams. These take longer than copy typing so do not charge the same rate as you would copy typing.


Equations and Maths Typing

There is a misconception about equations and maths typing where VA’s think that it will not take long and should be charged the same as everything else which in actual fact it should not be charged the same.

Maths typing with equations and designing charts/diagrams is very time taking and even more so when you need to build the charts and diagrams used and there is hardly any software out there that you can actually use to get the result you need.

When you find a software that you can use it still does not allow you to do everything you need which results in you having to edit and add things to the diagram e.g. I have a client who wanted maths diagrams done in this case it was function graphs and he wanted labels on the graphs, arrows on the diagram itself and all sorts added to it that this software could not do and no other software could without a massive cost for it and so we ended up building the diagrams in this software, copying it across to Paint (this comes with Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10) edit it in Paint, save the new image and take it across to Microsoft PowerPoint where we then had to add in all the labels and arrows needed for those graphs. Another thing is when designing and building these graphs/diagrams ALWAYS ask for the formula as it is very time taking to do it without and can often lead to confusion and chaos.

With equations, typing them out and using Microsoft Words equation tool can be easy to build but when you have to align them correctly it can be quite difficult especially when you select the equation tool and it automatically jumps to the center of the page and can be sometimes time taking to fix this each time.

Learning all the different things needed to make the equations and where to find each thing is also very time taking. E.g. needing a fraction but also need to add a superscript/subscript to that fraction etc and knowing how to do this and do it properly so that it fits with the rest of the sums.

So, in the end, a per-page rate that you would usually charge becomes nonviable and you end up losing out as we learned therefore the best for this either a per diagram rate or per hour rate. Do not have the misconception that it is easy because it is not and requires a lot of time to do.



ALWAYS PROOFREAD YOUR WORK. Have you ever read a book where grammar is wrong and spelling is incorrect, you get annoyed and angry and end up not finishing the book especially if it is bad? Imagine how the client feels when they get the work all typed out and formatted and all the spelling and grammar is incorrect and now they must send the work to a proof-reader which is now a bigger cost for them when you could have done it and saved yourself and them the added cost for it and you can add it into your own cost.

Providing proofread documents is actually providing the client with a quality service and your reputation is maintained and more clients will want to work with you and you will retain the current client.


Saving and Sending to Clients

Clients send PDFs specifically to be typed or converted so that they are able to edit the document. Sending the document back to the client in PDF form beats the whole point of them sending it to you in the first place, especially when the client did not ask for it to be saved as a PDF.

Most clients actually want the document to be saved as a Microsoft Word document so they can edit it and send back changes if needed. Also, clients do not want to have to sit with a passworded document when they need it immediately to edit and change. Most people get paid at end of the month so to send the document in PDF with password or Microsoft Word with a password and you only provide them with the password when you have been paid is not fair to them as they may not be able to immediately pay you and to expect this is wrong and not how it works in the corporate world or anywhere else. You can always fight the client for payment later but do not hinder them in their work now because you want payment.




When clients ask for quotes, do not quote blindly. Ask the client what is involved:

  • is it just plain copy typing?
  • does it have graphs/charts/tables/flow diagrams/equations/graphics etc.
  • does it require formatting,
  • what language is the typing in (this is a big question to ask as the client will not tell you this as you would charge more if it is not in English),
  • when is the deadline?
  • how many pages?
  • do they require Table of Content, Table of Figures, etc?
  • does it have any maths in it?
  • ask for an example/sample of the work.


After you have all the specifications of the job, look at how much time it would take to do the job, do not under quote the time it will be done by, be honest with the client that it could be longer depending on whether the document layout gets thrown out or not or whether there are other problems. ALWAYS give an estimated time quote and an estimated cost, the cost and time can always change so give an estimate of what you think based on the time it would take to do the job and the number of pages.

These days with the economy being what it is you need to look at the client, what do you feel in your gut that a client can afford to pay. Don’t push the boundaries too low to get the work when it is not cost-effective to do the job, also don’t push the boundaries and charge the client too high a price, you simply will not get the job. Remember if you undercharge you are bringing the whole industry pricing rates down. CHARGE REASONABLY!!!

Do not start the job until an agreement is reached with the client and the client gives you the go-ahead. Always give the client an estimated cost before starting. Please state in your quote that it is an estimated and not exact cost as anything can happen that may change the cost.


PLEASE NOTE THAT TRANSCRIPTION AND TYPING ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS AND DIFFERENT RATES APPLY (transcription works on an audio hour rate compared to per page/per hour/per project rate for typing). See Gaynor Paynter’s website for more information on transcription https://typewritetranscription.co.za/transcription/


Written by Alison and Katie Fourie.


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