Proofreading translations is an integral phase of the translation process, which must be carried out by a professional translator specialising in revision and editing.

Having worked as an in-house proofreader for almost a decade, I am writing this article as a guide for language service providers, project managers and companies offering multilingual content, when proofreading their translations.

These are the main aspects to pay close attention to in the proofreading phase of a translation:

1) Amending incorrect or inaccurate translations:

This is of course the most important point. In the proofreading phase of translation, we must ensure that all the meaning of the original text has been conveyed correctly to the target text. This includes all nuances and double meanings.

2) Ensuring the use of consistent terminology:

In my view, this is something that clearly distinguishes a professional translator from an amateur. The key words of the original text must be translated consistently (i.e., always the same way) throughout the translation. Inconsistencies in terminology mislead and confuse the reader, who doesn’t know if we are still referring to the same concept or a new idea.

3) Adhering to the glossaries or terminology provided:

If glossaries or lists of terminology have been provided by the client, the proofreader must ensure that they have been strictly adhered to and without exception, including the use of upper and lower case letters.

4) Correcting grammar, syntax and punctuation:

The target text must have impeccable grammar, and it is the duty of the professional proofreader to guarantee that all the grammatical rules of the target language have been followed. Perfect syntax and correct punctuation throughout the text are also essential.

5) Correcting typos and revising facts, figures, and proper names:

In this phase any typos are corrected, and all proper names checked that they have been written correctly and that all facts and figures are correct and have been written according to the conventions of the target country (e.g. the use of a full stop/ comma to separate decimals).

6) Using an appropriate style:

“Appropriate” refers to the most suitable style for the type of text we are working with. Here we are focussing on the register (e.g., colloquial/ formal), on how we are addressing the reader (e.g., directly/ with imperatives etc.) and that there is an internal consistency in the text (e.g., using the same grammatical category in all the items of a list, etc.). If the client has provided a style guide, the proofreader will read it thoroughly and ensure that it has been followed.

7) Ensuring it’s natural sounding:

The translation should not “sound like a translation”, but, when reading it, the reader should think that the text was originally written in that language. Therefore, on completing the revision process of the translation, professional proofreaders do a monolingual revision (i.e., reading the translation without looking at the original text), to ensure that it sounds natural, and we make the finishing touches to ensure that this is the case.

Do you need a professional to proofread your translations? Don’t hesitate to get in touch!