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Translation services have traditionally been offered on a cost-per-word basis; and there are good reasons why. It’s transparent: we all agree on what words are, and it’s clear that more words require more effort. But if we look a little deeper, it doesn’t align well with the changing world.

Charging by the word is not new. In fact, part of the reason that we think it’s outdated is that the best example of charging by the word comes from 100 years ago the telegram. Because customers hated being charged by the word, a pioneer named Nelson E Ross carefully put together a guide to all the sneaky ways to avoid word fees while still communicating effectively.