When our clients ask us for a quote, we usually estimate two or three steps for the completion of the translation project. Our most common combinations are: translation and editing and/or translation, editing and proofreading (review, copy editing, or stylistic editing, depending on one’s own preference). This last step, which we will discuss in this short article, may be somewhat controversial. First, regarding what we call proofreading, there are those who prefer not to use this term, just as there are some that avoid the term “editing” and rather prefer “review.” Secondly, often neither agencies nor linguists are able to agree on what this step actually implies.
Personally, I describe the difference between edition and proofreading as the following: editing, or review, is the revision or editing (as the name implies) of the target text, or the translation, comparing it with the text in the original language, or the source. In other words, we focus on improving the translation, comparing the information and adding details, as appropriate. This step is more demanding than proofreading and requires more time, as it is more intensive and involves a more thorough analysis of the translated text; while proofreading, or stylistic editing, is the review of the target without applying major changes with regard to the translated and edited text. It focuses mainly on the final style (spelling, capitalization, basic style, punctuation, etc.) and is the last step before delivery.
This issue may be due to a specific working style, since many agencies, especially in Europe, prefer translation and review, while in the Americas, translation and editing is the preferred process for translation projects. Perhaps the “review” stage is regarded as a mixture of what for us would be the steps of Editing and Proofreading. However, what is certain is that these stages are extremely necessary in order to produce quality work.