Translation proofreading vs translation editing

Translation proofreading ensures the translated text is error-free, well-formatted and ready for publication. It is a final check that ensures the translation accurately reflects the original text and is suitable for the target audience. While proofreading may seem like a straightforward process, it requires a high level of attention to detail and linguistic expertise. This article explores the role of translation proofreading in the translation process and how it differs from translation editing. It also discusses the components of translation editing and how they contribute to producing an accurate and engaging translated text.

An open notebook with word "hello" written in English, French, Chinese, Spanish and other languages. This image illustrates a text about translation editing and translation proofreading, which are essential processes preparing a translation text for publication.
Image by Trid India from Pixabay

What is translation proofreading?

Just like regular proofreading, translation proofreading ensures that spelling, punctuation and grammar are correct and there are no format issues. It is a final check before publishing the translated text. Proofreading is a light-touch, final intervention that makes no significant changes. It checks if all the language, formatting and styling decisions made during translation editing have been consistently reflected.

Here are some examples of tasks involved in translation proofreading:

  • Final proofreading. A final proofreading stage involves meticulously checking the translated text for any remaining errors or inconsistencies in grammar, punctuation and spelling. This step ensures that the translation is polished and error-free before publication.
  • Cross-checking with the source material. Even after translation editing, it may be beneficial to cross-check the translated text with the source material to verify accuracy and fidelity to the original content. This step helps identify any discrepancies or mistranslations that may have been overlooked during the initial editing process.
  • Consistency checks. Another important aspect of post-editing is ensuring consistency throughout the translated text. Translation proofreaders may review language and styling to maintain consistency within the document. They may also ensure consistency across related materials or translations in a series.
  • Checking formatting and layout. Sometimes, the editor may also review formatting and layout elements, such as headings, lists, tables, and footnotes, to ensure consistency and accuracy in presentation.

What is translation editing?

Without translation editing, mistranslations, incorrect use of words, unfamiliar and confusing idioms and references can make the text less compelling to the target readers. These issues may prompt the reader to put the book away, so translation editing is essential.

Translation editing prepares texts for 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. Like regular copyediting, translation editing ensures the text’s clarity, correctness and consistency. Moreover, it incorporates three additional elements: bilingual expertise, transcreation and language localisation.

Translation editing takes place before translation proofreading, which is the final process preparing a text for publication.

Here are some examples of tasks involved in translation editing:

  • Reviewing for accuracy: The editor compares the translated text with the original source material to ensure accuracy in conveying the intended meaning, context and tone. They identify and correct any mistranslations, errors or inconsistencies.
  • Checking linguistic quality: The editor evaluates the linguistic quality of the translation, including grammar, syntax, spelling, punctuation and word choice. They make revisions to improve clarity, fluency and coherence in the translated text.
  • Addressing cultural nuances: The editor considers cultural nuances and context to ensure the translation is culturally appropriate and sensitive to the target audience. They may adjust expressions, idioms or references to align with cultural norms and conventions.
  • Ensuring consistency: The editor maintains consistency throughout the translated text. They ensure consistent terminology, style, formatting and tone to enhance readability and coherence.
  • Collaborating with translators: The editor may collaborate closely with the translator(s) to discuss and resolve any issues or questions that arise during the editing process. Clear communication and feedback between the editor and translator(s) help ensure the quality and integrity of the final translation.

What are the components of translation editing?

Translation editing is more complex than translation proofreading and requires three elements: language expertise, language localisation and transcreation.

Language expertise

The translation editor must have a perfect understanding of the two languages: the source and the translated language. Only then can they ensure that the text has been copyedited and that language localisation and transcreation have been incorporated effectively. This way, the text becomes comprehensible and accessible to the target audience. Moreover, bilingual expertise allows the editor to look into the two other components of translation editing: transcreation and language localisation.

Language localisation

Effective language localisation is essential for texts published in a language different from the one in which they were originally written. It adapts the cultural references and other elements of the source text to the translated context. This way, the translation becomes relevant and relatable to the readers. Simply put, localisation answers the question: Will the target audience understand the text’s terminology, cultural references and style?

During translation editing, the editor implements language localisation. Language localisation occurred when the Harry Potter manuscript, written in UK English and set in Britain, was adapted for the US readers. Although the US and UK use the same language, their Englishes differ, so among others, ‘sherbet lemon’ became a ‘lemon drop’ in the US version.


Transcreation is an essential element of translation editing. The ability to transcreate a text involves reviewing the translated document against the original to ensure that the message and tone are maintained in the translated text. In other words, transcreation answers this question: Does the translation preserve the meaning of the original text?

To make the translated texts relatable and relevant to the target audience, tasks comprising transcreation may include:

  • cultural adaptation of idioms, metaphors and other idiosyncratic references
  • adaptation of jokes, puns and wordplay to maintain humour
  • ensuring the translated content respects the cultural norms, taboos and sensitivities of the target audience
  • adapting storytelling elements to match the cultural background of the new audience.


Translation proofreading and editing are vital in bridging the gap between the original texts and their translations. The complexities arising from differences in grammar, expressions and cultural nuances require careful consideration during the editing process. By understanding the intricacies of both languages and cultures, translation editors can bring texts to life in another language while preserving their intrinsic meaning and engaging new readers. Translation editing is essential to ensure that the translated text accurately conveys the message and tone of the source text while catering to the target audience’s understanding and cultural context. On the other hand, translation proofreading ensures that the translated text is correct, consistent and ready for publication.

To work with an experienced translation editor and proofreader, contact me for a free sample edit (and remember to use my early bird discount). If you want to hear more from me, including self-editing and writing tips, follow me on MastodonTwitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or join my newsletter.

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I am an editor, indexer and a lifelong lover of literature with a PhD in literary history. I am an Intermediate Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, a student member of the Society of Indexers and a vetted partner of the Alliance of Independent Authors.