How much should I charge for typing and creating a layout?

There’s a professor at my university who I know. I had her for a lit class and we’ve been on editing boards together, etc.

She wanted to know if I’d help her out with two things:

1: type up her dissertation. I believe it’s 150 pags or so. There’s some ancient Greek she has in there, but she might insert that after the thing is typed.

2: make a pagemaker file of her poetry. She wants to send it out to publishers (about 30 poems in all). Last semester, I was pretty much the only one on the editing board of Prism (the literary/art publication of my university) who could create a nice, simple PageMaker file of the book.

So… how much should I charge. Looking online, I saw “personal secretary” people who offered to type papers for you. The charges ranged from $1 to $4 per page. I didn’t really see any rates for PageMaker files either.

She’s already said she wants to make sure she pays me a reasonable rate for each job, but I don’t want to charge a large amount, because she’s not made of money either.


I’ve been in your shoes several times, so I’ll chime in.

Typing a 150-page dissertation would be VERY expensive if she jobbed it out to a copy shop – at bare minimum 250. What you'd charge for a friend really depends on how good/fast a typist you are and how much time you have to do it (rush job or several weeks). Honestly, a dollar per page is a very fair rate for you to charge. If you type fast, and you find typing a cinch and can do it for long periods without stopping, then maybe .75 or even $.50 may seem a fair “friend rate” to you.

None of the above involves formatting – just inputting aw text into MS Word or Ultra Edit. The formatting should be extra, and run about $8-10/hour as a “friend rate” Formatting a 150-page document is a pretty damn big job, so I wouldn’t be giving away much labor here.

As for the book of 30 poems … are they snippy little sonnets or “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”? Say the poems fit two on page with the usual 10- or 12-point type. 15 typed and formatted pages is not a particularly cumbersome job, so you could perhaps just charge her $8-10/hour and knock it out in 3-4 hours.

I charged $2.00/page as a friend rate. I’d go $3.50 if she’s not a close chum.

When I worked in the Computer Services department of a well-known copy chain the standard for everything was $60/hour. Example: an invitation should take 15 to 20 minutes, so $15 - $20 for the set up. Things like dissertations and papers usually ran $15/page single-spaced and 7.50/page double-spaced using the 15 min. / 7-8 min. rule. These were standardized prices for the whole country so your area may not hold up to the high rates. I know ours didn't always. I always did most of my stuff in either PageMaker or Quark for page layout or Word for something like a paper so that the person could go back and edit themselves later on their home computer (since most people don't have page layout programs at home). Keep in mind that the time frames I am talking about also include making prints (usually .50 each) and making a pdf in the most god-forsaken long way possible. Don’t get me started on the way I had to print (you couldn’t print straight from PageMaker with graphics. Everything had to be a pdf.) I would maybe halve that for your colleague and that way you can still make money and be way competitive against outsiders she might price.

Damn! I was cheaper than I thought!

But copy shop/graphic services were very underpriced in general when I lived in New Orleans.