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What is proofreading?

Translation companies the world over use the word proofreading, regardless of whether their main language is English or a another language that has borrowed the term. Traditionally, the word proofreading referred to the final review of a document by a professional proofreader before it is sent off for publication. The proofreader would correct any spelling mistakes or visual issues that may be in the translated document. Today, however, the term is often used to refer to revision. This is when a second professional translator—the reviser—goes through the first translator’s work and corrects any mistakes they may have made.

Revision vs. proofreading

Revision is the second stage of the translation process. The translated document is reviewed and compared to the source document by a different processional translator who, like the first translator, is a native speaker of the target language and  specialises in the relevant field. This translator corrects any mistakes that they find, such as grammatical or syntactic errors or mistranslations of proper nouns, and suggests possible improvements to the client. Revision guarantees that the text is error-free and written in the right style. Revisers also check that all the other elements, such as tables, illustrations, headers and footers, graphics and titles, follow the same style and formatting as the original document, making changes if needed.

 Translators always check their own work before they submit it. However, when we talk about translation and revision of our projects, we always mean the revision performed by a second professional, which provides extra quality assurance.

Proofreading takes that process a step further in that professional proofreaders usually only work with the final translation, without comparing it to the source text. They critically evaluate the text, checking for mistakes and correcting any formatting problems, such as font or spacing issues, and any grammatical errors, spelling mistakes or stylistic missteps. Proofreading takes place before the final text is published or given to the client.

When do I need a proofreader?

At Acantho, we recommend proofreading for any translations intended for sale or publication. Getting a translation proofread guarantees quality.

While this does increase the price of the translation, we strongly recommend professional proofreading and revision for translations intended for publication, such as websites, research articles, literary texts and websites. These services are also crucial for terminological and stylistic consistency in large documents translated by more than one translator. Finally, technical document translations by specialists in the relevant field who are not native speakers of the target language, or non-specialist native speakers, need to be revised.

Types of proofreading

Proofreading 1There are four types of proofreading:

  • Bilingual proofreading
  • Monolingual proofreading
  • Text proofreading
  • Print media proofreading

The most popular proofreading service offered by translation companies and agencies is bilingual proofreading, which is carried out by a professional translator who is fluent in the source and target language. The proofreader ensures that the translation makes sense and flows naturally in the target language, correcting any mistakes that the first translator may have made. If needed, they also check the layout and adjust the text to fit the original design.

How does professional proofreading work?

It depends on the type of proofreading needed.

Proofreaders usually begin by reading all the content they have been sent to get a clear understanding of the context. They then examine the translation in detail, highlighting any major or minor typos, grammatical errors, changes in meaning, and structures that sound unnatural in the target language.

They then send two files to the client: a clean document where all the corrections and improvements have been made, and another document that tracks and explains what changes have been made any why.

In the case of bilingual proofreading, the professional proofreader will compare the translation to the original document and make any necessary changes, and then send a single, final document to the client.

In some cases, there will be major differences between a translation and its “critical revision”. The client will be the one to make the final decision.

Why choose Acantho as your proofreader?

We provide translation, revision, proofreading and other language services for a range of clients which includes universities within and outside of Spain, chambers of commerce and catering companies.

If you’re looking for specialised professionals with extensive proofreading experience who can guarantee quality, please call us on (+34) 976 910 302, or send an email to We´ll be more than happy to help you, answer your questions and provide any additional information you may need. We´ll take a look at your documents and give you an obligation-free quote at no cost.