What Is the Difference between Translation Post-editing and Translation Proofreading?

Last Updated On: March 21, 2018


Post-editing has become an accepted part of the translator’s vocabulary quite recently, while proofreading as a skill has been around for much longer. At first sight, the two terms appear to be the same process – just a different way of describing the same thing. But, they’re not quite the same, although both processes do share one thing in common – they happen at the end of a translated piece of work and hopefully they both end up with an acceptable translation.

Of the two processes, proofreading is the simpler. It involves checking a translated document or piece of text for simple mistakes and typos. In a small translation company, the proofreader and the translator are often the same person, although in larger companies they may not be. In many ways, having the same person do the translating as well as the proofreading is very sensible. The translator becomes familiar with the material in the text and therefore does not have to spend time familiarising him or herself with the material when proofreading. However, there are also some advantages with having someone else proofread another person’s translated text as they may very well spot mistakes that the translator just did not see. It is easy to have a blind spot when you are writing something and one good way of avoiding mistakes that have been overseen is to get someone else to check your work.


The end product of a proofread translation is something that should be able to be passed on to the client.

Post-editing service is the newer term and implies quite a lot more work than proofreading services. It assumes that the translation is not as complete as it should be and there may be further translation or refinement needed before it becomes acceptable. The term has really come about because of the greater proportion of translation work being done using automated technology. Machine translations are less likely to be as perfect as those done by human translators, but do cut down the time needed for the translation to be nearly ready. The machine translated text does need to be thoroughly checked for accuracy and readability and it is much more likely that a human translator will have to go through editing the text so that it is acceptable.

To conclude, both proofreading and post-editing are both necessary aspects to modern translation practice. The key difference is the amount of work that has to be done to get the document or text in a state that it is an acceptable translation for the client.

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