How to edit a translation
31 May, 2012
As translators, we know how to evaluate our work, and we only send it to our client when we are 100% happy with it. But do we know how to review a translation done by another professional? Will they agree with our corrections? Will our corrections actually be correct? And are we being much more “teacher like” because we want to show that we are better? See below some tips that will help you to do a good editing job.
- Make sure you have all the project instructions and the project materials. Even if you are not going to translate the job again, you need to reproduce the same scenario as that of the translator, as this will explain why he/she took certain decisions regarding terminology.
- Ask your client how much liberty you have to make changes in the legacy material. For example, they may send a reference material which they do not mind to be changed, and in this case both the translator and you can offer other terms that will improve the existing ones. However, some clients may want you to stick to the reference material provided either for marketing reasons or to ensure consistency for future projects.
- Do not make preferential changes. There are certain rules within localization (for example, for localization of buttons, screens, menus, etc.) that we all follow even if there is not a specific style guide provided by the client (in that case, we usually follow the Microsoft Style Guide). Outside this, you have to respect the translator’s style. A preference does not mean that the current translation is bad. We are sure you do not like it when editors change your translation to include a personal preference, so do not do the same when you are editing the job of a colleague.
- Check if the translator made any queries and if the client replied to them. Sometimes, the reply from the client arrives after the translator already delivered the job, so you should be the one checking those replies and fixing the files (if needed) when editing the job.
- And finally, although it should probably be the first item in our list, always, always, always (did I say always?) run the spell checker. No matter how many times you reviewed the translation, no matter if you reviewed it on paper, on screen or on both formats, always run the spell checker before delivering to your client.
We hope these simple tips will help you to take objective and constructive decisions when reviewing a translation made by another professional.
If you have any other tips or would like to ask anything, please do so in the comments section! We will be happy to hear them and help you!
Editing, Localization, Localization Process, Translation
To the 5th point, I would add “And always check for double spaces and spaces before punctuation marks”. This belongs to the basics, but I still get many texts which include them accidentally or because they follow source strings.
Thanks for your comment! It is indeed important to check for double spaces, missing spaces and typos. Whenever possible, we recommend to do the review and editing on paper, as it is easier to spot these mistakes.
Really useful! I am about to do some reviews in Spanish for a friend and it is good to read all your points. I'll keep them in mind. Thanks a lot for sharing this with us.
Thanks for your comments, Anna! We are happy to know they are helpful! Do not hesitate to comment or ask anything you need.