Recently, I have covered the topic of outsourcing typesetting work in translation jobs, mentioning that the original translator is an ideal proofreader. This post offers a deeper dive on the topic.
Place of Proofreading in Translation Workflow
Due to role distribution in the translation process, translation vendors sometimes have little or no control over the typeset translation. In a common multilingual translation project scenario, a translation agency receives translations from its single-language vendors (SLVs), inserts them into final files, typesets these files, and arranges proofreading. Here is a bird’ eye view of this process:
Why Proofread at All?
Is the proofreading step worthwhile? The answer is yes, absolutely. Without proofreading, the typeset files may contain so much layout issues that even a top-notch translation will not mitigate the pain. The next logical question is who should be responsible for proofreading. I think the choice depends on the workflow design, agency’s flexibility, and, of course, the budget. Potential proofreaders are listed in the order of preference below:
- Original translator
- Original editor
- Any person with linguistic background, ideally a native speaker of the target language
- DTP specialist
Ideally, this task should be assigned to the original translator. Generally, this translator possesses more knowledge about the translation than anyone else. They will identify issues more easily and efficiently since they already know the potential pitfalls. Even the original editor is less efficient in this role because of the reduced involvement in the translation as compared to the translator. Below are a few examples based on our experience in support of this approach.
Issues Eliminated through Proofreading
- Twice in my career, I have seen agencies deliver large (over 100 pages) manuals to the end client without any typesetting and proofreading (while the latter could have helped to bring the layout issues to the agency’s attention before delivery). Both times, the end clients were furious about the layout, which was basically non-existent. I have been successfully using these examples to discourage our customers from saving on proofreading.
- With many language combinations, English to Russian translation being one of them, the translated text tends to expand in length. Inserted into the final files and typeset, it often does not fit into the available space, which results in cropping or overlapping. Such issues are hard to identify, unless you know exactly which translation is supposed to be in this or that place of the document or proofread the entire document carefully (requires knowledge of the target language).
- Certain issues such as different word order in translation due to split source sentences cannot be dealt with directly in the translation files. These should be checked and corrected in the typeset final files.
- A DTP specialist may forget to extract the text from images for translation. Such untranslated text is routinely identified during proofreading.
- A DTP specialist may also skip numbers, especially in tables, while they often do need localization such as changing a decimal point to decimal comma (e.g. 0.01 to 0,01) or changing thousand separators (e.g. 50,000 to 50 000). Again, proofreading helps eliminate such issues easily.
If you have high expectations for your translated materials and won’t tolerate errors, check out our Russian proofreading services.