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Translation proofreading – the ins and outs

By Tarli Cameron | February 10, 2022 | Blog

Translation proofreading

Translating proofreading provides peace of mind. 30 years of delivering language services to a variety of businesses and industries has taught us a few things. One lesson learned and re-learned over the last three decades is that a word can mean different things to different people. One such term is proofreading. Even when clarified as translation proofreading, it’s a term that can cause confusion so we thought we’d shed some light on what your options are.

Monolingual proofreading

A native speaker of the target language will read through the document, correcting obvious issues, such as typos or grammar mistakes and flagging any areas for concern. They won’t check the translation against the source so bilingual proofreading is needed if you want to check the meaning has been accurately conveyed. Monolingual proofreading may also be useful when texts have been produced in a language other than the mother tongue of the author.

Bilingual proofreading revision

Experience, however, has taught us that when clients ask for translation proofreading, what they normally expect is for the linguist to check the translation in full against the source. The translator checks sentence by sentence, looking for and correcting mistranslations, typos, grammar issues, inconsistent terminology and phrasing and taking into account client preferences.

In this instance, the term often used in the translation industry – usually in the context of the ISO standard 17100 – is revision rather than proofreading. This is most often used when texts are for publication or require an extra high level of attention to detail, such as medical reports or websites. A post-check DTP may also be advisable to ensure all text has been formatted and displays correctly.


In some instances, a review is needed that includes suggesting stylistic changes or improvements. The linguist will usually have a wider brief, being allowed to suggest changes to make a text more suitable for a particular audience or target market. A step further than bilingual proofreading, this is known as copy editing and is usually suitable for marketing materials, copywritten texts or localisations.

Is translation proofreading necessary?

Some international bodies will insist on the involvement of multiple linguists, translating, back-translating, proofreading and consulting each other to create a single, best translation. The reality however is that most companies don’t have the time or indeed budget for such a long-drawn-out process. The most time and cost-effective solution is a reliable professional translator who has proofread their own work, eliminating any issues and ensuring the meaning is accurately conveyed. A proofreader should only be needed to provide peace of mind.

We can help

To find out more about how we deliver quality in our translation and other language-related services, contact us today.