Revision, Review and Proofreading

We hope you find this post useful in dispelling any confusion over the terminology used when describing the stage in a translation project where a second pair of eyes looks over the translation prior to publication.

The terminology we refer to is lifted from the official documentation for the International Standard for Translation Services aka ISO17100.

Understanding translation quality checks

Before we start it’s important to answer the following question: “When drafting your source content, how many people within your company looked over it before it was published?”

The reason we ask this question is because, in our experience, clients often challenge the extra costs an additional layer of review adds to their project. If I had a penny for every time I heard someone say, “So I have to pay more for someone to review your work?!” I would be quite a wealthy woman.

In all seriousness, we imagine that at least two people were involved in the creation of your company’s written content, for quality purposes, so why wouldn’t you want any less than two people involved in the translation of your company’s content? It’s a no-brainer in my opinion.

So now I’ve convinced you of the importance of this, let us talk you through the different services and processes that should be incorporated into your translation workflow and how different are review vs. revision and proofreading.


The official ISO definition of revision is…

“(the) bilingual examination of target language content against source language content for its suitability for the agreed purpose.”

Here a translator is recruited in the role of a reviser. Their task is to take the original source documentation and the translated version, comparing the texts side-by-side to ensure that the original translator successfully produced a localised version of the source in the required target language.

Checks here include:

  • referring back to the appropriate style guidelines and glossaries checking they have been correctly and consistently applied
  • general spelling, grammar and punctuation checks for quality purposes

Ideally the translator and reviser should work together to pass feedback back and forth in order to enrich the translation for the client, ultimately delivering the best translation possible.

They should both work on the client account regularly and possess the same level of knowledge and subject matter expertise.


The official ISO definition of review is…

“(the) monolingual examination of target language content for its suitability for the agreed purpose.”

The review stage can either be conducted by the reviser who completed the previous step, or a third translator assigned the role of a reviewer. In our opinion we would recommend assigning both the revision and review steps to the same resource in order to keep turnaround times and costs to a minimum. There’s also the famous expression that “too many cooks, spoil the broth”, so it’s important to keep the level of subjectivity low.

Here the reviewer simply reads through the translation as a standalone piece of text in the target language to make sure that it stands on its own two feet.

It’s important for your target audience to feel that the content has been written in their native language and not translated. That is the highest compliment a translation can achieve, that it doesn’t sounds like a translation.

Checks completed at this stage are more centred around the suitability and appropriateness of the content in terms of the target audience and culture. Here we’re talking about localisation. Plus, there’s no harm in doing another spell check!


The official ISO definition of proofread is…

“(to) examine the revised target language content and applying corrections before printing.”

At Ultimate Languages we use proofreading in the context of translation projects which have an element of design or typesetting involved.

If you are also outsourcing multilingual desktop publishing to your translation partner, then make sure that someone proofreads the artwork files prior to sending them to print.

The translation project workflow in this case might look something like this…

It’s often best to have the original translator proofread the final translation in context so that they can conduct the following checks:

  • Linguistic: has the translated text been correctly incorporated into the design file? If so, is it fit for purpose?
  • Cosmetic: has any of the translated text been cropped or deleted? Are the localised images in the correct place?
  • Functional: is the font appropriate for my language? Is the font of an appropriate size for the reader?

Feedback from the translator should be collated in a single round of amends to be sent to the typesetter for implementation. There may be several rounds of amends, so please be sure to check with your translation partner how many amends are included in your agreed costs.

Utilising your in-house resources

Now don’t get me wrong, there are elements of these processes which could be done by your company’s teams, as long as they are native speakers of your required target languages.

At Ultimate Languages, we work with several clients who have utilised the linguistic skills of their in-country teams as part of their translation workflow. There are a few things to consider before you approach your colleagues though:

  1. What role/task are you going to assign to your colleague? Revision? Review? Proofread?
  2. Will this form part of their job description and daily/weekly responsibilities?
  3. Do they have time to liaise with our translation partner for tasks such as style guide and glossary creation?
  4. Do we have a back-up who can cover when this colleague is absent or has little capacity?

To ensure the highest quality translation it is important that any colleague you involve in the review process has ample time to complete the work to their best ability. If they don’t then it might be better to outsource this to your translation partner. This could depend on the volume of work or urgency of the project, and the final decision doesn’t need to be set in stone. It’s always worth discussing this with the relevant stakeholders to see what the most realistic option is.

Hopefully this has given you a clearer idea of what is involved at these different steps in the translation workflow, and who completes the work. If you have any questions about revision, review or proofreading then do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the Ultimate Languages team.

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