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What is the difference between editing and proofreading in translation?

January 05 , 2022

What is the difference between editing and proofreading in translation?

by Target Language Translation Services

- January 05 2022

difference between editing and proofreading in translation

Translations’ general process is to implement a three step translation process (translation, proofreading and editing) in order to achieve top quality of the translation. Translations in any language are edited and proofread for the utmost accuracy and quality of the finished product. The question is: Do you know how to distinguish these three steps?

Many translators confuse the editor’s task with that of a proofreader. They are both equally as important as they are different from one another.

Editing in translation

During the editing process, with the intention of improving the flow and overall quality of the writing, the editor is in charge of reviewing the text as delivered by the translator. This revision must take place while having both, the source text and translated text. This is a multilayered process that should be done sentence by sentence in search of the translator’s possible misinterpretations of the original text, consistency throughout the use of vocabulary, and/or incorrect language use. It is substantial that all translations be reviewed because regardless of how experienced a translator is, they will most likely make a mistake. Additionally, it may also occur that a translation is completed by different resources. In such case, the editor’s main task is to apply consistency to the document so that there is no apparent difference from one translator’s text to the other.

An editor gives their professional opinion and cultural consultation, but in normal practice, an editor doesn’t make these changes themselves. Instead, an editor returns their comments and corrections to the translator of the original document, who actions these suggestions before giving the document their final approval.

At Target Language Translation, we offer editing in translation as part of our dedicated translation proofreading service as standard; so you can be confident that the broad strokes of your document convey the right message, exactly as you intended.

Post editing machine translation

If you opted to use machine translation (MT) for your translation project, the standard of translation is likely to be of a lesser quality in comparison with content that has been translated by a professional. That’s why it’s essential to use MT alongside a professional human translator to edit the content – a process which is often referred to as post editing machine translation (PEMT).

The PEMT process can be done as little or as much as you like, depending on your budget. The expert eye of an experienced linguist will pickup on words which don’t quite make sense in the context the machine has produced, or notice that the copy may need to be localized to be acceptable within the target culture. Either way, it really is important that you have a professional translator edit your content.

Proofreading in translation

It’s typical practice that once a document has been edited, it still needs to be proofread. Technically, proofreading is done on a facsimile of the finished product, such as a printed brochure or magazine. When we talk about “proofreading” a document in a word-processing program like Microsoft Word, however, this is referred to as copyediting.

Both tasks are largely the same, and refer to the stage of the review process that focuses on ensuring that texts are free from error, omission or repetition. No substantial changes are made to the document at this stage; a proofreader’s job is to correct grammar, typos, control additional or insufficient spaces, text format and assure clarity of the text.

While translating documents in various languages, it’s necessary to check the use of accents, umlauts and cedillas as well as different varieties of punctuation, like the Spanish ¿ Quotation marks are a type of punctuation that is used differently across languages too, with the French opting for a « and Traditional Chinese linguists preferring a「 rather than the latin-style “.

Again, proofreading in translation is vital when localizing documents for different cultural contexts, as many words whose meanings are the same might require different spellings depending on their intended audience. Examples might include the US and UK English spellings of “recognize” and “recognise”, for example.


In any content creation process, editing and proofreading are two elements of review to improve the translation so that it reads as if it was written in the target language. At Target Language, you can be sure the professional translation has undergone an extensive editing and proofreading process as required and is consistent with client glossaries or specialist usage, accurate in cultural context, and above all linguistically flawless.

This article is reprinted from Global voices, Brightlines Translation and Trusted Translations.

If there is a copyright, please inform us in time, we will delete it right the first time.

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