Proofreading a translation before sending it off to a client is a final yet important step in every translator’s workflow. Careless errors not only reflect poorly on the translator, but they can have serious consequences for the client as well. Keep the following proofreading tips in mind to ensure that the client receives a polished, professional document every time.
- Devote your complete attention to the text while proofreading. Minimize distractions, and work in a comfortable area with adequate lighting. If possible, work from a hard copy of the document so that you can make notes and corrections on the printed draft.
- Imagine that you are the end-user of the document, and read through the text as though you were seeing it for the first time. Highlight any errors that you spot as you go along, and fix the mistakes that you marked once you’ve finished reading.
- Read through the text a second time, paying extra attention to individual words, phrases and sentences. Highlight any errors that you find. Keep an eye out for misspelled words, run-on sentences, unnecessarily long paragraphs, use of the proper tense, consistent tone and register, and common errors such as it’s/its, then/than and there/their/they’re. Consult a dictionary or style guide if you have a doubt.
- Carefully scrutinize formatting, punctuation, headers and footers, page and section numbering, headings, captions, etc. These items are also important, so resist the temptation to merely skim over them. In addition, double check the accuracy of dates and figures such as currency amounts, measurements or quantities. Mark each error and make corrections at the end of your second reading.
- Now take a break to help clear your mind. If possible, come back to the text the next day so that you’re reading it with fresh eyes. Read through the entire document for a third time, searching for any possible errors in spelling, grammar, formatting or flow. Make sure the translated text sounds natural; the goal is to avoid “translationese.” If you spotted any additional errors during this third pass, correct them and save the document. You’re now ready to send the translation on its way to the client!