Regardless of whether a piece of content is translated by hand or by machine, the first draft of the translation is rarely good enough to be used right away.
The gist of the content’s original meaning may be there, but some nuances may have been lost in translation. And since the expressing of the content’s substance in another language takes initial priority, the translation may also sport sentence structure, grammatical, or spelling errors that mar the reading experience.
All these issues will need to be addressed before the translated content becomes fit for use – which is where editing and proofreading come in. Often confused with each other, these two processes have distinct functions, but work hand in hand to prepare a piece of content for publication.
In this post, we’ll review the differences between proofreading and editing, plus the importance of proofreading in the context of translation and transcription. And if you are looking to translate website content, keep reading to learn our recommended tool for producing the most syntactically accurate and effective website translations every time.
What Is the Difference Between Proofreading and Editing?
The editing workflow typically has four stages: developmental editing, line editing, copyediting, and proofreading. However, unless an organization has a higher editing budget, it may have just one person (or a team of such people) who wears an “editor” hat and undertakes all four editing stages as part of their job scope.
As a result, the developmental editing, line editing, and copyediting stages of editing tend to be lumped together into just one “editing” process, while proofreading is regarded as a separate task.
So with this context in place, let’s explore how proofreading and editing compare in the transcription and translation process.
What Is Proofreading?
Proofreading is the stage of editing where the proofreader reviews the content word by word, checking and correcting any writing mechanic issues they spot. Such issues include grammatical, formatting, or spelling errors, incorrect punctuation and syntax, or typos. Proofreading is typically the final stage of content production, translation, or transcription, where the proofreader gives the content one last polish before it is distributed.
In the context of translation, proofreaders will also be responsible for double-checking the accuracy of any language- or location-specific spellings, grammar, and punctuation. For example, the translation proofreader may have to ensure that:
All nouns in German-language content have been capitalized. In contrast, capitalization is applied to only proper nouns in English-language content.
The « and » symbols have been used for quotation marks in French-language content. Such usage differs from the “ ” quotation marks used for most Latin-style content (including content in English).
What Is Editing?
Editing takes place before a piece of content is proofread, and is a more in-depth review of the content’s substance and writing mechanics. As mentioned earlier, there are three main stages in the editing process:
Developmental editing: In developmental editing, the editor focuses on the content’s overall substance. The editor may restructure entire portions of text or request additions and deletions to the material to help the writing make sense as a whole.
Line editing: Line editing also involves reviewing the content’s substance – but this time at the paragraph and sentence levels. Among other tasks, the editor will edit the content for a smoother flow between sentences and greater sentence clarity.
Copy editing: During the copy editing process, the editor starts to resolve writing mechanic issues in the content’s sentences, including fixing syntactical errors.
In the translation context, editors may also take on these responsibilities:
Refining the translated content to improve its readability in the target language.
Reviewing whether the translated text has been effectively localized for the intended audience, such as through the insertion of local dialect, slang, or jargon into the text.
Confirming that the translated and localized text adheres to the style guide of the organization that is publishing it.
With respect to translated content, the editor’s overall responsibility involves ensuring that the content doesn’t read as if it has been directly recycled from content in another language. Rather, it should appear as if it had been created especially for the target audience, invoking local language and contextual references that people in the target audience can relate to.
It’s only when this objective has been achieved that the translated document is sent to a proofreader for a final quality assurance check, and the fixing of superficial writing mechanic issues, before the content gets approved for publication.
Why Is Proofreading So Important in Translation and Transcription?
Since proofreading is the final stage of content production, it presents an opportunity for an experienced editorial professional to give a piece of content a final look and make any last revisions. The organization producing the translated content can then release it, knowing that the proofread translation:
Reads well: Any last writing mechanic issues will have been ironed out at the proofreading stage, resulting in content that has minimal errors and is a pleasure to read.
Has been effectively localized: While a large part of the content localization work falls on the editor, translator, or transcriber, the proofreader still plays a role in reviewing the translation for contextual (and grammatical) accuracy.
Provides the best impression of the organization: Translated content that is error-free and correctly formatted not only provides a smooth reading experience, but also improves reader perception of the organization’s professionalism. Readers may then be more inclined to engage with the content and the organization’s offerings as a whole.
Here's a quick look into content localization:
Proofreading will also remain an important editorial process even as machine translation becomes the norm. That’s because while the accuracy of machine translation is only ever improving, translation errors may still occur – and human editors and proofreaders will be needed to pick up and correct these.
To lighten your editors’ and proofreaders’ workloads, however, it pays to invest in machine translation technology that can translate content with a high degree of accuracy. In particular, if you’re in the market for a machine translation solution for web and ecommerce content, Weglot can help.
How Does Weglot Aid the Translation and Proofreading Process?
Our website translation solution uses a proprietary mix of machine-learning translations to translate website text. It integrates directly with websites built on WordPress, Shopify, Webflow, and other leading website platforms, and automatically detects and translates all text found on the website.
Since Weglot picks the most accurate machine learning translation for a given language pair, the result is a quality translation regardless of which of the over 110 supported languages you’re translating your website content into. And unlike how human translation typically takes hours, days, or even months to complete, you’ll receive your machine translations instantly – even if your website has a significant amount of content.
Weglot can even take specific style guide or language rules into account when translating content. Our glossary feature lets you state how certain words and phrases should always be translated, or never be translated, such that the resulting translation maintains consistency with your brand voice.
All website content translations are stored in a central Weglot Dashboard, and you can invite your editing team and staff from external professional translation services to help refine the translations further. You can also order professional translation directly from the dashboard to supplement the machine-translated ones.
Translation Editing and Proofreading Made Easy With Weglot
Although organizations tend to direct resources toward the writing of their content, sufficient time and effort ought to be invested into the subsequent editing and proofreading work as well. It is at these stages that the content is refined and perfected so that it can do the job for which it was created – whether to educate the reader, close a sale, or fulfill some other purpose.
Editing and proofreading become all the more essential if the content has been translated from another language. This is because the differences in language and culture will likely call for more phrasing and wording adjustments while the content is localized for a different target audience.
With that in mind, using a translation solution that produces fewer translation errors can help reduce the time needed to edit and proofread translated text, and allow it to be published quicker.
If the content you need to translate lives on a website, try Weglot. We’ve helped over 60,000 businesses translate their websites – and you can try Weglot on your own website by signing up for a free 10-day trial.
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