4 tips for a foolproof proofreading

4 tips for a foolproof proofreading

Despite being crucial to language services such as translation and transcription, proofreading does not always receive the attention it deserves.

Language experts go through a similar review procedure to that of authors and journalists when it comes to their work. They produce a first draft, review it, and then submit it for editing and proofreading.

Every language, of course, has its own grammar and rules about sentence building, spelling, length, etc. However, we will be focusing on the shared elements that influence the importance of this step in the translation industry.

Keep reading this article and learn a few tips on how to correctly proofread a text.


  1. Read it and read it aloud

Give the document a thorough read, in the source and target languages, and make sure you understand the content that is presented.

Then, read it aloud. This is an excellent method for ensuring that a sentence reads correctly in the target language. When phrases are translated, they can take on the structure of the source language rather than the target language.

If you are dealing with a difficult structure, read it aloud to hear if it sounds right. If still have doubts about its accuracy, consult a style guide / dictionary / grammar book or have a trusted friend or co-worker confirm it. A great method to guarantee quality is to get a second opinion.


  1. Make a checklist

As you are proofreading the text in question, you are bound to find problems that need fixing, and some of these may be recurring.

In addition to mistakes such as typos, double spaces, a missing word, repeated articles and misplaced commas, make a checklist of bigger issues you need to correct. Get back to each of them in a thorough manner, perhaps by using the filter option of your chosen CAT tool.

Such mistakes may include consistency issues, structural problems and terminological mishaps. Be sure to create and update a term base as you go – this will help provide you with effective and immediate quality assurance.


  1. Take a break

Taking a break is actually much more important than most people think. It allows you to separate yourself from the text and gives your brain the ability to scan for errors once again.

Sometimes we get too engrossed in the content and lose sight of what we are doing, or focus too much on insignificant details.

You will be able to focus better and identify mistakes more quickly after giving your eyes some rest and switching off for a while. Try underlining a problematic sentence and returning to it later if you are unsure of it. Sometimes, after a brief break the answer becomes obvious.


  1. Format and finalise

The goal of translation is to create a document that matches the original, and proofreading ensures this is done correctly. This includes conveying the correct meaning, tone and message behind the literal words.

As you are proofreading, keep a tab with the original document open. Segmented text is often hard to conceptualise, so make sure you take a few steps back and take a look at the bigger picture.

Depending on your CAT tool, formatting will be easier or harder, but these technological aids usually come in very handy and do the work for you.

Do not forget to respect the tagging of the document as you go, and at the end correct any misuse of styles, fonts, page layouts, indentations, line and paragraph spacing, margins and text alignment, checking for the proper use of tables, charts, symbols and colours.

Finally, use a trusted spell checker for the relevant language – but do not rely on it too much. Machines may not be human, but like humans they make mistakes, which usually derive from automation or lack of context. Trust yourself above all else.


Did you enjoy learning more about how to conduct a perfect proofreading? If you are in need of expert help, you can also check out our Other Services section. At Traductanet, we offer desktop publishing, terminology management and even audio transcription. Request a quote from us!

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