By revision I’m referring to a translation being checked against the source by a second translator. Many colleagues erroneously refer to this as proofreading, but proofreading is actually a different skill performed by a proofreader who isn’t usually a translator at all.
Proofreading (clicking on the link will take you to the definitions provided by the UK-based Society for Editors and Proofreaders – SfEP) is actually the last check in the process of ensuring a text is completely error-free before publication and it comes after copy-editing. Translators rarely need to copy-edit, even though some aspects do overlap (checking punctuation, grammar, spelling, that there are no errors, omissions, etc.).
Having done the SfEP course on an introduction to proofreading, I discovered that adding proofreading (as defined above) as a skill was not something I wanted to do. This was primarily because, as a translator first and foremost, I found I was not really interested in learning how to use BSI (British Standards Institution) marks since I don’t need them to do my job (although the SfEP course focuses heavily on these marks it is still useful for translators wishing to brush up on their error-spotting). That’s why I instead offer proof-editing services, a sort of hybrid between proofreading and copy-editing, which I usually do onscreen with track changes in Word or sticky notes in PDFs.
But back to revisions. Most translations need to go through a revision process, especially if they are to be published. It’s difficult for any individual to get anything perfect without a little help. A second pair of eyes can see things the translator has overlooked and often come up with ways to enhance the text. By collaborating together, revisers and translators can arrive at the best possible version of their client’s text, learn from each other and hone their craft. And if the TSP (translation service provider) provides certified services compliant with ISO 17100:2015, then it’s a compulsory part of the process.
Just as revision must not be confused with proofreading, it is not the same as a review either. According to the same ISO standard mentioned above, a review is a “monolingual examination of target language content” and reviewers should be “domain specialists” with “a relevant qualification in this domain” “and/or experience in this domain”.
As I’m extremely interested in this topic, there are a number of posts (listed below) on this blog about revisions. You can also read some of my favourite posts on the subject by other writers in the Editing, Proofreading, Revision and Review section on the Articles of Special Interest to New Translators page. The purpose of the Bite-sized Tips series is also to help us spot errors and improve our writing skills, so do check out that page too.
- Why All the Fuss about Spellings and Style Guides?
- A few words about using another’s translation for repeat texts
- The Thorny Subject of Revisions (version française: La révision : un sujet épineux)
- Revision: a Can of Worms?
- Why is it important to include revision courses in translation programmes? guest post by Nancy Matis
- What is the purpose of a revision?
- Revisions Survey
- Revision and the Quality Crate guest post by Allison Wright
- Revision Survey Results – Part 1 – Why and Why Not? why people don’t like doing revisions
- Revision Survey Results – Part 2 – Rates money aspects of revisions
- Revision Survey Results – Part 3 – Quality and Satisfaction how satisfied are clients and translators with revisions?
- Revision Survey Results – Part 4 – Revision Training respondents explain how they have improved their revision techniques
- Revision Survey Results – Part 5 – The Final Comments some of the observations respondents made on the entire revision process and topic
- Books on My Shelves – Don’t Trust Your Spell Check my review of a proofreading help book containing strategies to spot errors and sample tests