What is proofreading and is it important in the translation process?


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    Proofreading is the process of checking a translation for errors and is usually the final step before publication. Errors might include typos, spelling errors or formatting errors. For web formats like html and xml, the proofreader will also check to ensure that all tags are correctly located to ensure that your translation displays correctly once you’ve made the content live. If you have a termbase (a database of approved terminology translations), the proofreader will also ensure that these terms are used where appropriate.

    Editing means making more substantial changes to the translation such as style and grammar. In practice, most translation companies combine the editing and proofreading processes into a single stage in the translation workflow.

    Who carries out the proofreading?

    A second translator carries out the editing and proofreading process. This is an important principle because a second pair of eyes may spot errors that the first translator missed. Proofreading is a difficult skill to master as the translator has to learn to hold back from making unnecessary changes which are simply a matter of personal preference. However the proofreader must ensure that mistakes and poor syntax are dealt with before publication.

    Does it cost extra?

    Proofreading by a second translator is often included within the price per word which you get from your translation company. It’s important to check this as many translation companies offer different service levels at different price points.

    Does proofreading take extra time?

    Yes, the proofreading process usually adds about 30% to the translation timeline. As a rule of thumb, allow an extra day for every 7,000 words you’re translating.

    Do I really need it?

    That depends on what you’re going to be using the translation for. If an external audience is going to rely on your translated content to make a judgment about your business, products or services, it should be proofread. Important documents such as contracts or medical texts are almost always proofread as well. Content which is aimed at an internal audience often skips this stage. When budgets are tight it can be tempting to skip the proofreading stage. If this applies to you, consider the alternative of Machine Translation with human editing.

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