23 November 2021

What is proofreading?

Categoria: Translation

Proofreading is part of the process of finalizing a translated text and is distinct from the editing stage.

The term proofreading is often used when discussing our translation services, but not everyone knows exactly what it is. This is why we have decided to take a closer look at this area.

Proofreading is part of the process of finalising the translated text. More specifically, the ISO 1700 standard defines it as “checking the revised content in the target language and correcting it before printing”.

This is a crucial step in delivering high-quality work, though not the only step.

Proofreading is part of the second stage of checking the text, while the first stage consists of editing.

What is the difference between the two? Let’s find out.

The difference between editing and proofreading

There is a significant difference between editing and proofreading, not limited to the order in which they are done within the translation work cycle. They are two very different types of checks.

Editing covers the stages in which the content of a translated text is revised.

In particular, the ISO 17100 standard distinguishes between two forms:

  • bilingual
  • monolingual

The first (“revision”) is done by a third-party translator who checks the translated document against the original text. This is to ensure that the translation does not contain any errors and is appropriate for its intended purpose. In particular, an editor must check:

  • adherence to specialist terminology and/or reference material, including any provided by the customer
  • the semantic accuracy of the content
  • syntax, spelling, punctuation, diacritical marks, and other orthographic conventions in the target language
  • lexical coherence and appropriateness of phraseology
  • adherence to any style guides in terms of lexical scope, language register and language variants
  • contextualisation and applicable standards
  • formatting
  • suitability for the target audience and the purpose of the text

The translated text must flow perfectly and be comprehensible, so that the end user is not aware that they are reading a translation. The reviser must therefore look out for and correct any elements that may be inconsistent with the language and culture of the target audience.

In the second case, monolingual editing (“review”), the translated text is checked by a specialist in the field who assesses the accuracy of the content by exclusively focusing on the target text.

This is a review practice mainly used in highly regulated fields, such as science and medicine, where revision by a doctor or specialist gives the translation an additional level of appropriateness and reliability. Unlike the previous type of check, in this case only the translated text is revised, which is why the process is referred to as monolingual.

Once the content has been checked to ensure its accuracy, the form must be checked, so the next step is proofreading.

The proofreader’s task is to correct all formal errors not detected by the translator:

  • remaining typos
  • grammar and syntax errors
  • errors in numbering or transcription of places or proper nouns
  • omissions and missing text
  • punctuation and formatting.

Clearly, editing and proofreading are two very different services, although both are essential to guarantee the quality of the final product. Sometimes, because it is limited to formal errors, there is a tendency to consider proofreading inferior to editing.

However, there are considerable advantages to having a translation checked by an experienced proofreader.

The advantages of proofreading

Although translations are always done by professionals with high-level language skills, it may be that in a large document containing thousands of words, a few seemingly minor errors such as a lowercase instead of a capital letter or an incorrectly transcribed digit can slip through.

However, these small details can make all the difference.

This principle applies to any type of text, from specialised texts such as scientific articles, financial reports or patents to more popular texts aimed at a wide audience, such as brochures, advertisements or websites.

There are a number of advantages to a translation that is correct in both form and content.

In the case of documents in more technical fields, meticulous proofreading is a sign of great care and professionalism, which has a positive effect by strengthening the author’s credibility.

When applied to advertising texts, proofreading ensures error-free translations, which helps build trust in the brand and, consequently, encourages greater conversion of potential customers, with positive repercussions for the business.

Proofreading is therefore an essential step in the work cycle, ensuring the quality of the final product, which is why at Way2Global it is considered equal to any other step in the translation process.

Our teams of native-speaker proofreaders are ready to spot any minor imperfections that may have slipped through the previous work stages. This allows us to guarantee high-quality translations that meet our customers’ needs.

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