editing, proofreading

Proofreading and Editing: What’s the difference?

When translating a document, there are several stages taken to ensure the quality of the final piece is the best it can be.

At eSense Translations, we provide proofreading by an independent linguist as standard; included with every translation piece. However, this is not just a simple spell check. What goes on behind the scenes is actually a much closer editing process.

In our blog this week, eSense Translations explains the difference between proofreading and editing and how we use both of these processes to provide our clients with the highest quality translation work.



Technically speaking, proofreading is the checking only of the target text, ensuring its spelling, grammar and punctuation is correct.

When working on a translation project, the proofreader will therefore only need to have fluency in the target language. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that punctuation can vary between different languages. This can trip up translators, therefore making the proofreading process all the more critical and requiring a careful eye to ensure complete accuracy in the target language.

For eSense Translations, no error is considered minor, as small mistakes can lead to much bigger repercussions. Poor quality writing can give a bad overall impression of its creator and, if the piece is for marketing purposes, can then have an impact on sales.

Furthermore, in some cases, a small punctuation mark can completely change the meaning of a sentence, misleading the reader of its intent.


Here are a few examples below:

Let’s eat, Grandma!  (Enjoying a tasty meal together)

Let’s eat Grandma! (Someone who is likely to not be so tasty!!)


I’m sorry; I love you. (Making up)

I’m sorry I love you. (Not so happy to be in love!)

Check out some more examples here.


Subtle inaccuracies, such as these, could falsely affect crucial decisions, for example, when documents are translated for legal purposes or for the diagnosis of a medical condition. Examples such as these really highlight the importance of the proofreading role.

Proofreading may also include assessing the layout of a piece of work, considering the use of paragraphs and headlines. For this, a brief would need to be issued (see below), so an understanding of the document’s purpose is gained.




The editing of a translation actually occurs prior to proofreading and is a process that is also included as standard with eSense Translations.

Editing is the checking of the style of language used in a translation, where the editor considers how effective the words and phrases used are for the intended target language.

When editing a translation, the source text is also required and therefore the editor must be bilingual in the relevant two languages. They will review the source text, determine the purpose, intent and tone of the document and then look to ensure it has been successfully transferred to the translated version. Editors will also consider the target market and assess whether the language style is appropriate, e.g. is the writing a professional, formal piece or is it a more informal relaxed style?



Translation Briefs

There are several points above that need to be determined before attempting the editing and proofreading of a translation. These are goals, which the client is wishing to see achieved in the translated text.

At eSense Translations, in order to make sure our clients’ requirements are accurately met, we send out a client brief questionnaire.

This asks such things as mentioned above, including:

  • Target language, including dialect (e.g. U.K. or U.S. spelling)
  • Target market (age, gender, any useful background interests)
  • Tone (e.g. formal or informal)
  • Purpose of text, including any specific formatting requirements
  • Any other specific stylistic instructions


The importance of these briefs multiple when a document is being translated into several languages. Receiving details, such as these, prior to commencing a project will ensure all translators, proofreaders and editors are working to the same instructions and therefore the resulting work should be consistent across all markets.


Producing and finalising a translation is similar to when content is created from scratch. Text requires drafting, reviewing, editing, revising and proofreading. Two or more people can be involved in creating this work and therefore the back and forth between those involved can make the process more lengthy than simply trusting a first draft translation. However to ensure quality, these elements to the process are crucial.


By Lorna Paice

One thought on “Proofreading and Editing: What’s the difference?

  1. Difference Between Editing and Revising • Categorized under Grammar , Language , Words | Difference Between Editing and Revising Editing and revising are two ways of looking over something – usually writing – in order to improve it and fix mistakes.

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