Mar 7

Proofreading and editing- an option or a must?

Proofreading and editing

Proofreading and editing done by an independent translator is often considered an option and therefore is frequently disregarded by both clients and translation agencies due to higher cost. Yet there are texts, which due to their nature and purpose should be checked by another translator who will make sure that a given document is a true and flawless reflection of the source text.

Recent experience

Recently, I have been asked to proofread quite a lengthy text of a commercial nature that was to be published by one company. I was only asked to proofread it (check grammar and spelling), however, the translation was of a poor quality and thorough editing was required.

The first problem I noted was the layout and the formatting of the text (mainly font choice and size). To avoid this problem, it is probably best to “save as” the original text and just overwrite it with the Polish (or any other language) translation.

Another reappearing issue were calques- words just copied from English to Polish which either did not exist in Polish or where used in a different context. In translation, nothing should be taken for granted and it is probably best to double-check even the most obvious of words (e.g. “call at”)

The greatest problem, however, was the comprehension of the source text, which contributed to most accuracy issues. The produced result was quite amusing, but I do not think the client would appreciate the translator’s sense of humour in this case. Reflecting upon it now, I think that time might have been a problem here, as the text seemed to have been translated in a rush. It is important never agree to deadlines which we cannot meet.


To sum up, for long texts and documents that have been translated by more than one person, proofreading and editing is not an option but a definite necessity. And to comment on this particular job: another success in preventing a bad Polish translation from being published. Hurray!