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One of the many obvious disadvantages of using a free or cheap internet translation service like Google Translate is that you have no idea how accurate the translation is. Probably, it’s not very accurate at all. That’s why the use of professional translators who understand the importance of careful editing and proofreading after they have translated the text they have been given is essential.

How does editing and proofreading help in document translation?

Post translation editing and proofreading are integral components of good translation practice. Of course, the amount of time editing and proofreading depends on the complexity of the subject matter and the competence of the translator. Freelance translators may have to do all their editing and proofreading themselves, but translation agencies may have a system in which different people are involved in each step, adding to the accuracy of translation.

Why is proofreading so necessary?

Proofreading is necessary in order to minimise the amount of mistakes in a chunk of text that has been translated. Proofreading ensures that simple, but annoying mistakes like typographical errors, spelling mistakes and punctuation errors are corrected. It is expected that all professional translation is followed up by translation proofreading before being released to the client. Note that editing is not exactly the same process as proofreading. Editing can involve changing the meaning of the text to avoid potential cultural confusion or acceptable norms, or convert units where necessary, e.g. from imperial to metric or vice versa. Proofreading must still be done even if no editing is necessary.

Elements of proofreading / what to take into account

Proofreading has to be done by someone who is just as fluent in the target language as the actual translator. It involves carefully reading the translated version of the original and correcting all the errors. Ideally, proofreading should be done more than once to achieve as accurate a translation as possible. There are individual tricks to proofreading which can be used. For example, some people start from the bottom and work their way to the top and others work their way from right to left (or left to right if it was Arabic!). If a second or even a third person can be used rather than the original translator, then it is more likely that errors will be picked up. It is surprising just how blind about simple errors one can be about the text you have written.

Proofreading at its simplest level can also avoid silly mistakes like translating the wrong original text or getting different documents confused. Proofreaders should quickly scan through the original document before doing the proofreading so that they familiarise themselves with the main subject matter. Note that also niche translation services like scientific or technical translation and legal translation always involve very specific vocabulary. The proofreader should be able to check that the correct terminology is being used.


Translation is an essential part of our globalised world and becoming ever more important. It is always better to choose a professional translator with a good reputation to do any translation work for you. Professional translators understand the importance of editing and proofreading properly after a text has been translated.