27 steps to translation (or 'just' translate this)

March 23, 2016


Everyone these days talks about translation processes, translation technologies, translation automation and so on. However, have we thought about what actually happens during translation? What happens from the moment someone contacts a translator until the translator returns their work? What process do translators follow to translate?


For most of my clients, translation is a piece in the jigsaw. Someone has to write the content first. Then, somebody has to edit it, someone may have to design it. Someone may need to produce it on a web page or print it or bind it.


Among diagrams, workflows and process charts, translation owns its own workflow. This could be news to those who often think translation is like copy-paste. Admittedly, there isn’t one best practice, as each project is unique, but roughly, here are the steps I can’t imagine missing out during a translation project:

  1. Pick up the phone/check your emails.

  2. Assess the data (what field, what language, how many words, what’s the deadline?)

  3. Accept project or not (in case of the latter that is a short-lived translation cycle)

  4. Set up a project folder

  5. Log the project in your books

  6. Read through the source file

  7. Identify terms

  8. Research terms and find equivalents in target language

  9. Import source file in translation software

  10. Apply translation memories and term bases

  11. Start translation (11 steps later…yes!)

  12. Finish first draft (sleep on it (sometimes literally))

  13. Proofread and amend

  14. Check terms consistency

  15. Run a QA check

  16. Export translated file

  17. Format the translation to match the original

  18. Print translated document

  19. Proof on paper

  20. Go back to my translation tool and amend the translation if needed

  21. Re-export

  22. Re-proof

  23. Am I happy with it? (No, I am not happy with it.  Repeat steps 20 – 22)

  24. Am I happy with it? Yes, I am!

  25. Return the translation to the client

  26. Invoice

  27. Close project and go have a cuppa!

Do I follow these 27 steps for all my projects? Probably not; that would be inefficient and not very business-like. (Yes, translation is a business and not something that you do because you want to work from home).


Do I do this for most of my projects? Yes, but if my client has asked me to translate one sentence, then it won’t take 27 steps to do that.


It’s fair to say that the above checklist applies to longer and more technical projects. It is also fair to say that no translation project ever involves ‘just’ translation.


How do you go about translating?


Do you have a checklist you follow?


Let me know in the comments 👇


Vasiliki is a professional translator from English and French into Greek and from Greek into English. She runs Greek to Me Translations from Oxford, UK. She is a Member of the CIoL and the ITI and she is registered the Greek Embassy. She specialises in legal, marketing, psychometrics and food content. Her mission is to help businesses and private individuals reach their goals through the power of words. You can contact her at vp@grtome.com


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