Reviewing process - Final Copy
Thread poster: Jason Cronin

Jason Cronin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:19
Spanish to English
Sep 26, 2013


As a relatively new project manager, I've had a question come up repeatedly. As in many companies, mine has a two-step process in almost all projects: Translation and Editing. The question is, what do you typically do with the edited files? The editors I've worked with always use track changes, which is convenient. Do you typically send that version back to the original translator for him or her to accept the changes? Or do you simply accept all changes and send that to the client?

Any advice?


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:19
Member (2007)
+ ...
My own experience Sep 26, 2013

I've never worked for an agency, nor have I ever outsourced work, so my experience is limited. But I can say this:

- In seven years as a translator, I've only ever once seen one of my translations with tracked changes marked. That was for a regular client who had always in the past just thanked me for the delivery - I wasn't 100% sure if they were being proofread. Then he clearly changed proofreader, to one who 'correct' every word choice for a synonym. OTOH, I have had quite a few clients query the occasional word/expression/sentence, so clearly someone looked through it.

- In 15 years as a proofreader/edit (not always within the translation industry), I've often suggested that my remarks be passed back to the translator, especially when revising work by non-native translators. I've never had the slightest evidence that this was ever done.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:19
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It varies Sep 26, 2013

Thank you for asking!
You sound as if you are going to be one of those PMs who are a pleasure to work with.

As a translator I prefer agencies who send the changes back to me.

Then I can see where there was room for improvement, and note it for next time. Many of my jobs are small sections in 'continuing stories' of some kind, and I try to maintain consistency.

Sometimes the feedback is a refreshing new suggestion - either way, I like to know what has been done with my text.

I have done a fair amount of proofreading myself, and learnt a lot from it. In the early days I had to call the translator and go through the text with her or him on the phone... and of course experienced translators did not always accept my rookie suggestions! Again, a very useful experience.

I have the advantage of living in the country where my source language is spoken, and I catch idioms and topical allusions to items in the news or background knowledge, which may puzzle proofreaders in other countries.

Sometimes the 'translation' should not be changed (when I have spent ages searching for an equivalent in English, but it does not come across as a literal translation...).

On other occasions my suggestion is not understood as intended, and it is often an advantage to see comments from someone who can read the target text without having seen the source - which the translator can never do!

So there are lots of arguments in favour of letting the translator see the changes and have the final say.

Especially as it is often the translator, not the proofreader, who has to answer any complaints!

A lot of agencies simply send the corrected file to the client straight away. This saves time, but you have to trust the proofreader, and the translator will not benefit from feedback.

That is my take on it...
Best of luck!


Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:19
Chinese to English
Personally, I find looking at reviewed translations frustrating Sep 26, 2013

In theory, Christine is right, but in practice I don't find that I enjoy seeing my work after editing. I might disagree with the editor's style, might be embarrassed by my own typos. If the editor is incompetent, there's going to be a time-wasting battle. If the editor is competent, then I won't need to look. It just seems like a lose-lose situation to me, and I'm already half way through the next project, anyway.

If an editor has specific questions, I'd be happy to talk to them, but I'd really like to trust the editor to do their job and catch the errors that slip through. If it were up to me, I'd probably look at the editing on one job in ten, just to make sure that I'm not doing anything too silly.


Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:19
English to German
+ ...
The good companies send the edited text back to the translator Sep 26, 2013

This way you achieve total quality control.

By allowing the original translator to have the last word, any errors that were unintentionally built in during the editing process will be caught. This happens a lot with track-changes, BTW.

Also: Often the translator has been following specific instructions that the editor didn't know about. If the editor makes changes in this regard, you may end up with a very angry end client.

Also: Editors - especially beginners - often display a tendency to rewrite the entire text based on their personal preferences and send in THEIR version. Which has not been proofread yet.

You also receive an opportunity to check the quality and performance of your editor. Ask the translator for detailed comments.


Allison Wright (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:19
Agree with everything Nicole says Sep 27, 2013

I like the system employed by one Portuguese agency I work for. The head of the agency always phones me, normally a couple of hours after submission of the work. Sometimes, it is just as well the agency does phone me because the changes suggested by the reviewer are incorrect. The phone call gives me the opportunity to explain why. Sometimes the reviewer comes up with a good suggestion, which results in the client receiving an improved translation. Only if the review is too difficult to talk about over the phone have I been sent a "tracked changes" document. This has happened once. Sometimes, I receive an e-mail which says something like, "We have made the following changes", with a list of two or three things. I acknowledge this with either my agreement or disagreement. My favourite feedback e-mail is the one which says "thank you - impeccable!".

The point of all of this is that the feedback is immediate, and effective.

I work for another agency whose client has their own language department. I receive the sdlxliff file of about one in every 10 translations back with the editing changes made by their team of editors - sometimes as long as two months after the translation is delivered. Two things happen: 1. I may learn a more elegant way to phrase something 2. I am obliged to object strongly to some changes - and, as Nicole says, point out new errors introduced in the review process.
I do not find this process particularly helpful because I have only once got feedback on my feedback of the feedback! Nevertheless, since the end client has a huge term base of their own, it is important to register anomalies in order to eliminate the less desirable elements of that term base. It makes my future work for that client easier.

Another agency client and I communicate very well, much like the Portuguese agency above, except our conversations occur via e-mail, and do not require the whole tracked changes document.

For an agency to accept all changes in the document received from its editor is very dangerous indeed especially if done without recourse to the original translator.


Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:19
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
How much was changed? Sep 27, 2013

I am often asked to provide a short commentary to sum up any proofreading/editing jobs and also to comment on any major changes. This makes it easier for the client (if direct) or the agency to judge, how serious any errors were.

If you are looking at a proofread document that has only a few minor changes applied, I believe that it is a bit of a waste of time to send it back. Nobody is immune to making a small mistake and I have proofread translations, where I literally changed 1 comma in the entire document.

If there are a lot of changes, or the comments show actual wrong translations, then this should be sent back to the translator for review. In this situation, you are facing 1 of 2 scenarios: Either the translator has submitted substandard work or the reviewer has invented errors, where there are none. This means that there is probably 1 person that you have to take off your books.

If the translator insists that the suggested edit is inappropriate, then it should be sent to a third person. Does he suggest similar changes as the first proofreader? Is his summary similar to the first proofreader? Do you usually get this type of feedback on the translator in question, or is it a freak incident? Take it from there.


Agnes Lenkey  Identity Verified
German to Spanish
+ ...
Feedback preferred and I think also necessary Sep 27, 2013

Dear Jason,

I think that all the information you received in this thread is very useful for you in order to decide which is the best workflow for you to apply. I always prefer and actually do everything possible to get the revised translation back, because (even if sometimes we are really in lack of time) this way I can improve, see my errors and point out any corrections I esteem as incorrect.

In my case it is much simpler, because I mainly work for direct clients. After I finish the translation, I send it to my proofreader and wait for the proofread text before I make the final checking and editing of the translation. If necessary, I consult the changes with my proofreader. I completely agree with Christine and Nicole and think that the description of Allison highlights very well the complexity of the process: “feedback on my feedback of the feedback” – but this is how it should be, in my opinion.

Best regards,



James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:19
Russian to English
+ ...
It's a "best practice" that is rare in my experience Sep 27, 2013

I have only one client who regularly sends me translations that have been proofread. The PM asked me to recommend a proofreader, and I suggested someone I had worked with as a staff translator for many years. He and I don't always see eye to eye, but I respect his judgment.

On the other hand, I collaborated for several years with an agency in Russia that did no proofreading whatsoever. I translated articles for them that were posted to the web, sometimes the same day. I know they were not proofread, because sometimes I would see a mistake I had let slip by. I edit my translations twice, but as I am sure you know, the eye tends to see what you thought you wrote rather than what is actually there if you proofread too soon. Unfortunately, deadlines usually require you to send the translation almost as soon as you finish it.

[Edited at 2013-09-27 19:04 GMT]


matt robinson  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:19
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
It's a two stage process Sep 27, 2013

I "proofread" and correct all my own texts as part of the translation process. I put the word between commas for the following reason; if I could leave the work for 24 hours and return with fresh eyes this process might be enough, but the deadlines I am asked to work within do not usually allow this. When they do, I can. when they don't or can't, then a fresh pair of eyes is probably the best option.

After that it becomes a question of perspective. I feel confident that my work is always up to the task, but I don't profess to having any insight into the end customer's preferences. If I am being sent changes for information purposes I really don't mind. I have heard of agencies that use this type of feedback as a reprimand, or even to try and force a rate reduction. I have never had the misfortune to work with such people, but if I ever did the relationship would be a short one.


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