Proofreading: Why is it important and what is behind it?

Do you publish articles on the web? Are you an author of prose, fiction or professional publications? If so, you probably know that it is not enough to just read the text once in order for it to be published, but it’s important to at least double check everything. This is doubly true for translations from foreign languages. In this article, we summarize why this is the case and what is behind proofreading.

Why shouldn’t you underestimate the proofreading of a translation?

Whether you are a blogger, an academic who writes professional articles, or you are involved in creating corporate PR, you definitely want to do your job as best you can. You want your texts to be understandable and clear, not to lack logic, and to fulfill their (most likely) purpose – to ensure the marketability of your product. In addition, if you use multiple languages, each variant and each translation need to be proofread. Even if the translator is the best, he or she may overlook typos, may not have a perfect command of grammar, or may not know the relevant technical terminology or facts about the given country. Imagine, for example, having an important business contract translated and signed without proofreading. Doing so could lead to fatal consequences.

What does a proofreader check and why?

For translations, i.e. for conversions of a text from one language to another, it is important to preserve the meaning of the text itself. Even if it contains insignificant errors that do not have a direct effect on the meaning, the language proofreader will ensure that the text is grammatically error-free and meaningfully corresponds to the given purpose. This brings us to the first type of proofreading – linguistic. This is sufficient for regular translations. However, if you plan to publish your texts and, in addition, they deal with a professional topic, it is appropriate to perform stylistic, professional and pre-print proofreading.

Stylistic proofreading ensures the maximum readability and comprehensibility of the text and is carried out by a native speaker who knows best the special language idioms typical of the country. For professional texts it is good to have both a professional translator and a proofreader who is familiar with the field. A professional proofreader will ensure terminological flawlessness, the correct use of technical names and expressions – not only in terms of translation, but also stylistics. An example can be a mathematics textbook where proofreaders deal with the context and other connections with respect to the content. The text must not change semantically, it can change in terms of (professional) terminology.

In our practice, we often use the customer’s terminological glossary to avoid expressive inaccuracies. If it is relevant for your company and you do not have this internal “glossary” yet, we recommend creating one.

In any case, it is necessary for texts that are to be printed and will be reproduced to perform pre-print and technical proofreading (or in-context review proofreading). The proofreader or proofreaders who are in charge of these activities check the legibility of the text, the correct order of the chapters and pages, the appendices, and the overall graphic design. They must also check and correct typographical errors which often include wrongly divided words at the end of a line, incorrectly inserted commas between clauses, or inappropriate characters. Of course, photos and images are also checked, which must be properly inserted into the context of the source text.

Do you care about quality translations?

If quality translations are really important to you, do not underestimate proofreading for the above reasons. Not all of these types of proofreading may apply to your text, especially if are not writing about quantum physics or do not need to translate the user instructions for a robotic vacuum cleaner. Although they always involve a separate “reading” of the text and each type of proofreading requires a separate proofreader (which may not be the rule), do not despair that you would have to pay for each one separately. Every professional translation agency offers proofreading as part of a translation package. We at Aspena are able to prepare a tailor-made offer according to the needs of each customer.

Do you need a quality translation and possibly its proofreading? Do not hesitate to contact us. We work with more than 200 language combinations and professional CAT translation tools. We can handle your project playfully and quickly!

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