Copy-editing, proofreading, post-DTP checks and bilingual review —choose your service
I often receive requests from my clients asking me to proofread their content but later on, I realise that what they really want me to do, is copy-editing. Similarly, translation agencies ask for proofreading, but what they really mean is bilingual reviewing.
If you don't know what type of review would be best for your content, that's OK. I am here to help. So let’s untangle the web of reviewing, by looking separately at each one of these services.
At first, let's take translation out of the picture and explore these different types of services on a monolingual level. By that I mean copy-editing, proofreading and checking content in one language only.
Copy-editing takes place right after the raw material (the 'copy') has been written. It essentially makes the copy ready for publication as a web page, or a book, or an article, or a poster etc. The aim of copy-editing is to ensure that everything is accurate, easy to follow and understand, fit for purpose and free of error, omission, inconsistency and repetition. This service also picks up mistakes and ambiguities and makes possible legal issues known to the client. The copy-editor may challenge the meaning of certain areas and can work with artwork professionals to embed the text in its final environment.
Naturally comes after copy-editing and is a quality check. It’s error-spotting usually taking place on paper instead of on-screen, depending on the proofreader’s preference. It is often blind: the proof is read on its own, without seeing previous versions of the document and without knowing the context in which a text or product is used. This tries to answer the question of whether the text will make sense to just anyone. Proofreading looks for consistency issues, accuracy in text, spelling, grammar and syntactical errors. These are all surface errors. Proofreading is not re-writing and it does not involve altering the meaning.
Post DTP checks
DTP stands for Desktop Publishing and it relates to the work of an illustrator, typesetter or graphic designer. Post-DTP checking is a phase during a project that looks at content within a designed environment such as a website, a leaflet, poster or booklet in PDF or paper format. This stage aims to eliminate errors that were introduced in the text during the designing phase (text being cut, or missing or placed in the wrong area). It’s a stylistic, visual check and a second proofreading in context.
Now let’s bring translation back in the picture and talk about bilingual review.
Bilingual review is often what translation agencies refer to as ‘proofreading’. In essence what they ask translators to do is to look at the translated content and compare it against the original source ensuring all meaning is transferred across and that the translation is free of errors. What they want is a blend of validation + proofreading. However, the two are different types of services and what the second translator (proof-reader) usually has to do, is first run a bilingual review and then, a monolingual proof of the translated content on its own which is, in fact, a two-in-one service. The risk here is that once you have run a bilingual review, you become familiar with the content and therefore your proofreading eyes are less likely to catch typos. Ideally, bilingual review and monolingual proofreading must be two different project stages executed by two different suppliers.
I hope that this short post has clarified the differences between the above services. If not, get in touch and we can decide together which service would suit your content best.
Vasiliki is a Translation Consultant, Chartered Linguist and Translator. She is the founder of Greek to Me Translations, a company that helps businesses communicate their brand, products and messages to their target audience. She can help your organisation achieve a global presence by implementing a translation process that works, using translation technologies and best practices. She believes that translation strategy, when well-embedded within the overall business strategy, delivers not only words but vision. Find out more about how she can help you or get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your translation process and any challenges you have.