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Editing and proofreading: differences and applications

The revision of a translated text undergoes various corrective phases carried out sequentially to fine-tune the end product on all levels.

In general, there is always some confusion between editing, or “cross-checking” and proofreading: here we define them in detail and explain their specific uses.

Editing: the correction of a draft

A translated text is usually edited by comparing it with the original text. This enables the translator to check the translation with extreme accuracy, easily dispelling potential doubts about particularly tricky passages thanks to the guidance offered by the original foreign language text.

The objective of this operation is to achieve a very high level of fluidity within the text. So high that it reads as if it had been written by a native speaker.

It is the first correction performed on a translated text and, in this phase, any grammatical or spelling mistakes are not checked.

When the translation is not wrong, but the editor deems that there is room for improvement, he/she adds comments in the margin of the translated text, so allowing the author to evaluate his or her suggestions and accept, reject, or even rewrite the passages in question.

Proofreading: no to prAnting errors

Proofreading is a more “superficial” correction of  a text: in this phase, the focus is on identifying and remedying any careless mistakes, such as typos, extra spaces between words, missing capital letters, inverted letters and so on, or real grammatical errors.

In this second phase, the objective is to obtain a text that is flaw-free, ready to publish or in any case to be used for its intended purpose.

How to use editing and proofreading effectively

As is clear from the fact that editing and proofreading are effectively two completely different operations, a text can be edited without being proofread and vice versa, so these services have different costs, times, and methods.

However, proofreading, which might be requested in scenarios when we are particularly confident about the quality of a translation, is not always sufficient to guarantee a good general quality level.

Likewise, cross-checking alone is not enough to ensure an impeccable text, ready to be delivered to the world.

This is why always performing both types of revisions is highly recommended, especially for translated texts to be printed. Indeed, if an error is found in a text already published online, it can always be remedied. Instead, if a mistake is detected in a text that has already been printed tens, hundreds or even thousands of times, it would be absolutely impossible to withdraw it from the market or correct all the incorrect printed copies.

On the other hand, if the translated text is intended to be read by the public, we might consider proofreading an unnecessary step: after all, how many people would be likely to notice a misplaced doubled letter? But taking such a light-handed approach could prove costly: delivering a text with typos to a reader will multiply the chances they will pronounce the incorrect words wrongly.

So, to sum up, which one is a surer bet? Editing or proofreading? There is only one answer to this question: the only sure way to always ensure a winning text is not to take any chances and choose both.

Redazione Eurotrad

March 15, 2021

Redazione Eurotrad

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