Translation editing services

Translation editing prepares texts for a publication in another language, working with the original text in the source language and its translated version. It takes place after translating the text and before proofreading it. Same as regular copyediting, translation editing ensures the text’s clarity, correctness and consistency but also incorporates three additional elements: bilingual expertise, transcreation and language localisation. 

A translation editor must possess a perfect command of two languages: the language of the original (source) text and the language of the translated version. Only then can they ensure that the text has been copyedited and language localisation and transcreation have been incorporated effectively. Hence, the text becomes comprehensible and accessible to the target audience. Transcreation reviews the translated text against the original to ensure the original meaning, style, tone and message are preserved in the translated version. Language localisation adapts the cultural references and other elements of the original text to the translated context to ensure they are understood by the target readers, usually from a different cultural or language background.

Why is it important? | What is included? | What is not included? | When to hire an editor? | Finding an editor | Pricing | Translation editing vs. copyediting | Translation editing vs. translation | What next? | Other editing

Ensure that the meaning is reflected in the translated version

Adapt cultural references understood by your target audience

Preserve the style, tone and message of the original text

Make the book understandable and relevant

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Why is translation editing important?

Translation editing has a dual purpose when preparing a text for publishing. It performs the function of conventional copyediting to ensure the text is clear, consistent and correct, but it also ensures the harmony between the message, style and tone of the translated and original versions of the text. Its components, language localisation and transcreation, alongside the bilingual expertise of the editor, ensure that the translated text is authentic, relevant and clear to the target reader. On the contrary, without translation editing, such issues as mistranslations, incorrect use of words, or unfamiliar and confusing idioms and references can make the text less readable and less compelling to the target readership. In the long run, these issues may prompt the reader to put the book away.

What does translation editing include?

Translation editing includes copyediting and harmonising the message, style and tone of the translated and original versions of the text. It ensures the text is correct, clear and consistent, as with copyediting. The final deliverables of translation editing include a marked-up manuscript with tracked changes and comments from the editor and a clean copy. Like a copyeditor, a translation editor may create a style sheet to record the language and styling decisions that govern the text, such as spelling and punctuation, to ensure consistency. Moreover, a style sheet may include decisions in the categories such as choices of spelling, capitalisation, punctuation and treatment of abbreviations, but also the point of view or narration. The style sheet should also help prepare the text for publication, such as proofreading to ensure the text is entirely consistent. 

What is not included in translation editing?

A text undergoing translation editing naturally has already been translated into the target language. At this stage, it should have no issues with argument, message or plot, as they would have been addressed during the developmental editing of the original text. Likewise, the clarity, tone and vocabulary of each sentence and paragraph have been tightened during the line editing of the original text.

When should you hire a translation editor?

A translation editor can start working on the manuscript after it has been translated from the source text into the target language. To make this process effective, they will work on both versions of the text: original and translated. Consider booking a translation editor in advance; because of their bilingual expertise and editing skills, their services might be in high demand.

What should you consider when hiring a translation editor?

A translation editor should have an excellent command of two languages (the language of the text and the language of the translated version) to ensure the text has been copyedited, language localisation and transcreation have been incorporated effectively. To ensure they possess these competencies, it is worth checking their portfolio and client testimonials. Translation editors will also often offer a free sample edit to showcase their skills. Finally, if they are a member of a professional editorial body, they are likely to have received formal training and follow a code of practice.

Ask the translation editor for a sample edit.

Asking the translation editor for a sample edit before signing a contract provides you with an opportunity to check their skillset. It will demonstrate their language expertise and understanding of the target audience.

Ask the translation editor for a sample edit.

Because translation editors must command two languages impeccably, it is valuable to understand their level of competence in this regard, for instance, what degree or certification they hold. They may also be a member of the professional bodies for editors, which tend to offer training and professional development opportunities as well as abide by their members to follow a code of conduct. The UK has the Chartered Institute of Linguists, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, the Translators Association and many others.

Find out about their editing qualifications.

Except for language expertise, translation editors must be skilled in editing. Joining a professional body that offers a peer network and training is one of the ways that proofreaders may refresh their knowledge. Global organisations for editors and proofreaders, such as the Editorial Freelancers Association, offer such opportunities. Regionally, in the UK, there is the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading; in North America⁠ — ACES: The Society for Editing and the Northwest Editors Guild. So, when hiring a translation editor, you might want to check if they are a member of any accredited organisations.

How much should you pay for translation editing?

There are no officially designated rates for translation editing, but you should expect to pay for it more than for copyediting. For instance, current hourly rates for copyediting suggested by the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading start from £33.30, and translation editing should be priced higher because copyediting is one of its components.

Translation editing justifies its rates by the competencies required for successfully performing this service: excellent command of not one but two languages — an ability to ‘marry’ the original message intended by the author with the cultural background of the readers.

What is the difference between translation editing and copyediting?

Copyediting works closely with grammar and spelling and addresses language and styling inconsistencies. Translation editing has a larger scope and comprises copyediting, however, additionally also ensures effective language localisation and transcreation.

There are some similarities between copyediting and translation editing, except for copyediting being part of the translation editing. Both services work with sentences and paragraphs. Another commonality is that both services partake in creating the style sheet, which is the complete record of the language and styling decisions taken by the author and editor to ensure clarity and consistency of the text.

What is the difference between translation editing and translation?

Translation editing is a different process from translation and takes place after translation. Translating a text focuses on the message and transposes the text from one language to another. On the other hand, translation editing involves copyediting and harmonising the original and translated versions of the text. This harmonisation involves aligning the translated version’s message, style and tone with the author’s intention (as reflected in the original text) and ensuring that the translated version is relevant and comprehensible to the target readers.

What should happen after translation editing?

Copyediting is part of the editorial intervention included in translation editing, so after translation editing has been carried out, the text can next undergo proofreading. Proofreading ensures that all spelling, punctuation and grammar are correct and that there are no format and layout issues. It is a final check before publishing your text. Proofreading is a light-touch, final intervention without any significant changes, checking if all the language, formatting and styling decisions made during editing have been consistently reflected in the text. Proofreading usually takes place after the text is typeset. (Typesetting is the process of arranging a physical or digital version of the manuscript, including letters, symbols and glyphs, onto a page so it is print-ready.)

Can a translation editor do other types of editing?

Usually, yes. Translation editing overlaps with the scope of copyediting, so translation editors often offer copyediting services. They may also have the competencies to proofread but also perform developmental or line editing.

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