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Thread poster: Mihai Badea
Terminology issue: proofreading versus editing

Mihai Badea  Identity Verified
Romania
Member (2004)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Jun 12, 2004

Could you, please, tell me what would be the difference between proofreading a text and editing a text? Here are the definitions I found in the on-line Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary:
edit
1) to prepare a text or film for printing or viewing by correcting mistakes and deciding what will be removed and what will be kept in, etc:
Janet edited books for a variety of publishers.
The film's 129 minutes were edited down from 150 hours of footage.

2) to be in charge of the reports in a newspaper or magazine, etc:
He edits a national newspaper.

editing
Doing the filming for the documentary took two months, but editing took another four.

editor
a person who corrects or changes pieces of text or films before they are printed or shown, or a person who is in charge of a newspaper or magazine:
She's a senior editor in the reference department of a publishing company.
Who is the current editor of the Times?

proofread
to find and correct mistakes in proofs (= copies of printed text) before the final copies are printed

proofreader
a person whose job is to correct mistakes in books before they are printed

proofreading
Most of the errors were corrected at the proofreading stage.

However, I’m not sure I understand what the specific tasks of and editor/proofreader in case of a translated text would be. I would be grateful if you could help me with that.

Mihai


[Edited at 2004-06-12 09:34]


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Claudia Digel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:55
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
it depends... Jun 12, 2004

Hi Mihai,

If a client asks you to edit, review or proofread a text it's probably best to ask them what exactly they expect you to do. I know quite a few clients who use these words as synonyms.

Generally speaking, I would say that editing involves more work than proofreading.

When I proofread a text I check it for typos, grammar errors and inconsistencies and make sure that the translation is correct but I do not perform major changes. Editing might involve rewriting entire paragraphs, changing the style of the translation etc. Proofreading would normally imply checking the translation against the source and making sure that everything is correct. When you edit a text though, you do not necessarily check it against the source but rather work only on the translation and make it sound better.

This is also reflected in your daily output, I'd say you can proofread about 10,000 - 12,000 words per day (depending on the quality of the translation, of course) while editing is done at a pace of about 3,000 - 5,000 words per day.

I hope this helps.

Claudia


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Omar Osman
Belgium
Local time: 11:55
Member
English to Somali
+ ...
I agree Jun 12, 2004


Claudia Digel wrote:

Hi Mihai,

If a client asks you to edit, review or proofread a text it's probably best to ask them what exactly they expect you to do. I know quite a few clients who use these words as synonyms.

Generally speaking, I would say that editing involves more work than proofreading.

When I proofread a text I check it for typos, grammar errors and inconsistencies and make sure that the translation is correct but I do not perform major changes. Editing might involve rewriting entire paragraphs, changing the style of the translation etc. Proofreading would normally imply checking the translation against the source and making sure that everything is correct. When you edit a text though, you do not necessarily check it against the source but rather work only on the translation and make it sound better.

This is also reflected in your daily output, I'd say you can proofread about 10,000 - 12,000 words per day (depending on the quality of the translation, of course) while editing is done at a pace of about 3,000 - 5,000 words per day.

I hope this helps.

Claudia


I agree, I charge more for Editing and most of the time I provide a quote after i have seen the document and the quality of the translation. Is always wise to agree on the amount of Hr you will use and charge them for.


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Ruxi
German to Romanian
+ ...
Could it also be... Jun 12, 2004

I have asked this question myself too. I am not sure, but could editing also mean giving the proper form to a document?
As far I as I now the software is called text-editor, Photo-editor a.s.o, that is they can be used to give a special form to a document (write a text, scan or shot a photo a.s.o) not reffering to the content of it (grammar errors or stile).
I think book or newspaper editors do this kind of editing: they find the proper format for a page (fonts, sizes, position on the page a.s.o.
So editing is much more technical.
Proofreading is more related to the content of the document-you just correct the language and grammar and do not change formats.

It is just my way to understand it, I may be wrong.

Ruxi


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:55
German to English
+ ...
Terminology issue: proofreading versus editing Jun 12, 2004

Proofreading is correctly used to refer to the checking of a printer's proof against a manuscript.

Checking for and correcting errors in spelling, punctuation, etc., is editing.

The two tasks may be combined, in which case there is some justification for referring to them collectively as "proofreading", but using "proofreading" to refer only to the second is both wrong and misleading.

Marc


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Scott Rasmussen
Local time: 02:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Proofreading Jun 12, 2004

With proofreading, your corrections should be cosmetic only and made to the galleys. Here, your task is to find e.g. broken letters, misaligned and "crashed" lines, and the odd spelling mistake. I'm a science/technical editor and translator; all potential style and, indeed, content questions should be flagged and disposed of by editors at an earlier stage. It is expensive to make "editorial" changes to the galleys. That said, you, the proofreader, are ultimately responsible for a flawless final product--barring printing errors, naturally.

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Scott Rasmussen
Local time: 02:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Proofreading (cont'd) Jun 12, 2004

I might also mention that I'm using this term in its most restrictive, technical sense, viz. reading galley proofs to ensure their accuracy and completeness. This is directed toward the world of publishing: books, newspaper articles, professional journal articles, etc. If in the translation field s.o. is looking for a proofreader, the person sought may be asked to read though translated text and flag anything that looks suspect, move commas around, and so on. This is not what a proofreader at a publishing house does; that is more the work of a copyeditor/line editor/desk editor.

--Scott Rasmussen


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CarolynB
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Formating? Jun 12, 2004


Ruxi wrote:

I have asked this question myself too. I am not sure, but could editing also mean giving the proper form to a document?
As far I as I now the software is called text-editor, Photo-editor a.s.o, that is they can be used to give a special form to a document (write a text, scan or shot a photo a.s.o) not reffering to the content of it (grammar errors or stile).
I think book or newspaper editors do this kind of editing: they find the proper format for a page (fonts, sizes, position on the page a.s.o.
So editing is much more technical.
Proofreading is more related to the content of the document-you just correct the language and grammar and do not change formats.

It is just my way to understand it, I may be wrong.

Ruxi


Hi Ruxi - we sometimes charge extra for putting the document into the proper same shape as the original, usually for very complex pdf files - we tend to call this formating, as we feel it's really a job for the printer, not the translator. Cheers, Carolyn


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Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:55
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Different types of editors Jun 12, 2004


MarcPrior wrote:
Checking for and correcting errors in spelling, punctuation, etc., is editing.
Marc

...this is just one of many different types of editing.

Cambridge's AL dictionary should also say that "edit" can mean anything that is between definition 1) and definition 2).

[Edited at 2004-06-12 20:19]


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jgal  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:55
French to English
+ ...
Proofreading is superficial, editing is more thorough. Jun 13, 2004

For me, proofreading a text (especially as a translator) means checking a translated document against the original, to ensure that no parts have been missed and that I agree with the translation (terminology used, grammar, idioms etc.), as well as tidying up any minor mistakes in punctuation, spelling etc. If I'm asked to proofread a document without an original, I will usually check the spelling, grammar and punctuation. It is not my role to change what the author wrote.

When I'm asked to edit a text, I am not usually given an "original" in a different language - my role is to check and improve the copywriting of the document itself. Often this will involve documents (not translations) written by non-native speakers of the language concerned, which need to be made to sound more natural, or texts for marketing purposes, written by engineers, which need to be made less technical and more commercial.

[Edited at 2004-06-13 12:17]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
In the translation world, their use tends to be synonymous Jun 13, 2004

In my own experience, I agree with what someone previously said, that no distinction is necessarily drawn between the two in the translation world.

In the translation world, maybe the reason there is little distinction is becuase the range of quality of texts to be 'corrected' can be vast, ranging from machine translation, non-native translation and native translation, and bearing in mind whether the text was 'translated' by an expert - whether in the knowledge field or in translation.

In the editorial world, publications are vetted differently, and rarely make editing/proofreading stage if they are defective in some way, whereas in the translation world, all kinds of writing will be distributed in various ways to various audiences (commercial letter, user's manual, website, mailout, tender, private correspondence - you name it...). There is usually no formal editing/proofreading stage for these kinds of text in the source language, as there would be for journal articles and books.

For a translator, the main issue is to determine the level of 'correction' required and what the client is willing to pay for.

Things that make the translation 'corrector's' job complex/lengthy/costly:

1. Level of technicality (does client want/expect technical or simply linguistic know-how of you?)

2. Lack of a source text

3. Non-native writing

4. Failure of translator to investigate/use correct terminology

5. Translator language use in general mimics source language (a style problem, which often requires substantial rewriting)

Hope that is of some help to you:-)


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:55
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The publishing definition is useful Jun 13, 2004

What it implies is that, in proofreading, no value judgment other than the notion (judgment) of correctness is required. (This is what goes into the galley.) When an adjustment of style or a similar value judgment is called for, this requires the services of an editor. Julia's description of her work is a good example.

How far an editor can go into this job depends on specific cases. Literary publications may require an editor who knows how to bring out the best in a writer's (or translator's) style (i.e., not insisting on "making his own mark" all the time, which rather defeats the purpose of editing in such cases). I always have to keep this in mind when I am asked to edit, since an editor's word can give the wrong impression of a writer or translator (this also depends on the client's understanding of the "editing" concept. Once or twice, I even refused an editing job since it implied making judgments on the work of a previous editor whose criteria I did not entirely agree with, and thus could not justify in conscience). I'm pointing this out because this is a very grey area in the industry and sometimes can be abused.

Specialised publications may also require the correct use and/or unification of specific terminology, hence the services of a likewise specialised editor (medical journals, congress proceedings, art books, etc. Oh, yes, SAP and other exhaustive manuals of instructions.) Publications with strict formats may require more drastic editing (cutting out chapters, paragraphs, unifying ideas, editing proceedings transcripts, etc.) - just to give you a sample of the editor's range of responsibility. (You may wonder when it is "right" to edit proceedings: this will depend, but rest assured that if a spontaneous error puts a respected speaker into unjustified ridicule, it will be carefully considered by a board prior to publication.) The final published form of a translation may thus not be the product of simple correction. (I.e., if this happens to you, don't feel bad: you may just have been edited as the author or speaker would have been).

Giving the proper form to a document in publishing is called layouting; translation agencies sometimes refer to this as DTP (desktop publishing) services.

Hope this helps. As Ailish points out, in translation the lines are not that clear. What I've tried to put down is the part of each element in certain processes.

[Edited at 2004-06-13 22:11]


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Mihai Badea  Identity Verified
Romania
Member (2004)
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Jun 14, 2004

Dear Claudia , Omar, Ruxi, Marc, Sras, Carolyn, Luca, Julia, Ailish and Parrot,

I want to thank all of you for your kind comments. Really useful information. As far as I can see, there is no generally accepted definition. I shall follow Claudia's advice and ask each Client what exactly they expect me to do when they ask me to proofread or edit a translation. Once more time, many thanks.

Regards,
Mihai

P.S. The above message does not imply that further opinions are not welcome, too.

[Edited at 2004-06-14 08:45]


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Dan Marasescu  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 11:55
Member (2003)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Definitions Jun 14, 2004

Hi Mihai,

I definitely think you should ask your client what exactly he expects. The definitions I have from one of my clients are different from what has been said in this thread.

If you're interested, please send me your email address so that I can send the relevant documents as attachments.


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Terminology issue: proofreading versus editing






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