Proofreading translations is a must

Translation has enabled companies to look beyond geographical boundaries, no doubt about that. One cannot ignore the role proofreading has played in that development. Indeed, a badly proofread content can distort the original meaning of a message. In worst case scenarios it can jeopardize a business. So let’s see why organizations should consider translations proofreading  as a must.

What is proofreading?
In most cases, translation proofreading is the final stage of a translation cycle. Proofreaders focus on the target text. They tick off the clear communication of the intended message to the intended users. Proofreaders review the text as a whole to check it makes sense. They control word usage, punctuation, grammar and spelling. They ensure that there are no translation errors and that no passages from the original have been left over.

“Am I not paying translators to deliver flawless translations?”
Professional human translators strive to deliver high quality translations. They do so to the best of their knowledge, capacities and abilities.  Yet, translators will never have the same inside knowledge as the client’s staff : they could miss conceptual or technical nuances that are obvious in the client's mind. The client knows his products and services like no one. It is thus crucial to include that inside knowledge into the translation process. Is there a better option for that purpose than proofreading by clients?

The more digitization, the higher the importance of proofreading
An increasing part of the translation process is nowadays being automated. But human intervention is still required for proofreading. Why? Modern translation memories and in some cases machine translation enable faster turnaround times and reduced translation budgets. Concessions to dependability is a potential side effect. That's one of the reasons justifying human proofreading.
Grammatical mistakes can change the conveyed message although the sentence might sound fine. Worse, a misinterpreted technical concept can mislead the end reader. So, a proofreader needs to ensure the translated message exactly matches the source ideas and makes sense to the end user.

Who should I appoint as proofreader?
One can split proofreading into content-related and language-related. In an ideal world, the perfect proofreader is someone who combines 2 skills: being knowledgeable in the covered matter (like a product manager);  and being language-proficient in his mother tongue (i.e. the target language of the translation). In real-life conditions, that profile is not always easy to find. The best option is then to assign content-related proofreading to the experts and to let translation companies review possible language mistakes. In that case, you better start with content-related proofreading : the linguists from the translation agency will afterwards be able to correct grammar or spelling errors that the content experts might have made.

Where to focus attention on?
Proofreaders should identify and correct the following:


  • Essence of content based on the target group’s culture, occupation, language and demographics
  • Facts
  • Terminology
  • Contextual fitting and consistency
  • Testing broken website links
  • Abbreviations
  • Identifying inappropriate words and phrases


  • Grammar
  • Sentence structure
  • Capitalization and use of tenses
  • Text length
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Typos
  • Formatting
  • Visual consistency
Thursday, January 30, 2020 By Stany van Gelder