Newbie to proofreading question - how to mark changes?
Thread poster: tmariani

tmariani  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:46
German to English
+ ...
Oct 14, 2016

I am brand new to this field of work and, as such, have volunteered to complete a proof-reading job for a non-profit. I guess I had no idea what I was getting into........

They have asked me to mark the original text through the "track changes" option on MS Word. I am finding this incredibly difficult as they are some huge problems with the translation. It is clear that it was translated by someone who is not a native speaker.

What is typical in this industry? Especially considering that the translation really needs to be edited.


Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:46
German to Serbian
+ ...
Typical... Oct 14, 2016

is probably what you described in your post. Cheap translator and cheap or free proofreader. How big is the translation?


tmariani  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:46
German to English
+ ...
length of translation Oct 14, 2016

38 pages - about 18,000 words


Christian Nielsen-Palacios  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:46
English to Spanish
+ ...
Partial submission Oct 14, 2016

After you have done 4-5 pages, send them to the non-profit so they can see how bad it is. Then, ask for more time or money to do the rest.

[Edited at 2016-10-14 12:18 GMT]


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:46
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Change the setting to make deletions invisible Oct 14, 2016

I find that hiding the deleted sections makes it much easier to see what you are doing as you work. If you need to rewrite whole sentences, start again at the end of the sentence, and do not delete until you complete the sentence.

As suggested above, send a short section (I would stop after the first page!) to the client and ask for more time - or offer to re-translate from scratch if that is easier, as it often is.

Is the text machine translated? If it is, you will almost certainly find it easier and faster to translate rather than edit. Clients do not always appreciate this, but never be afraid to tell them if a translation is hopeless. It happens again and again, and it is not worthwhile struggling with it. You might as well learn sooner rather than later not to accept these hopeless jobs!

Best of luck!


James Hodges  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:46
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Can only echo what others have said. Oct 14, 2016

I think Microsoft word is the most commonly-used approach for proof-reading and tracking changes. Moreover, I like Christian's suggestion. Baring very special circumstances, I reckon asking somebody to basically do a rewrite of a translation of 38 pages for nothing is a bit stiff. As suggested, tidy up the first five pages and then send it to them. Be truthful and tell them just how bad things are with the original. Newbie or not, 18,000 words for nothing sounds a bit out of order.


TranslationPanacea TranslationPanacea
Local time: 21:16
editing or proof reading Oct 15, 2016

Before quoting anything or committing your time, it is always good to see the sample of the work. So you can make up your mind.
I would like to distinguish here in editing and proof reading. If you are finding a lot of errors in `translation' - it being not honest to the original, or there is a problem with syntax, then it is a bit more than proof reading. If you are doing it free of cost, please name your job as `editing' rather than proof reading.
I agree with the other professionals that you can now submit a small part of the proof reading and then take a call for going further. And I agree with the `machine translation' comment too. Correcting it is a pain. I would rather go for fresh translation instead - it is easier.
All the best!


tmariani  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:46
German to English
+ ...
Thanks! Oct 15, 2016

Thanks for all the good suggestions - I will definitely use them.


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:46
French to English
Another thing to bear in mind Oct 16, 2016

I concur with what has been said by others and would add that I would probably not go beyond 2 pages before forwarding them to the NGO to illustrate the points you are no doubt going to make. Make no bones about it, be clear and explain the importance of having stuff done by native speakers.

I sometimes do pro bono work but will only do so if it does not interfere with paid work. I work to keep my family and myself alive and well. That is my first priority. The idea is that I also do so making use of skills I have with the aim of enjoying that process most of the time. Taking on a big bad freebie can jepardize the basic material stability I require. The job you describe is not at all what you expected it to be. Suggest a translation from scratch or a paid revision at an appropriate rate. And, finally, make surre you don't get tied up with this one and end up refusing other paid work which could put food on the table.


Tony Keily  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:46
Italian to English
+ ...
This is not proofreading Oct 18, 2016

Proofreading is the reading of a galley proof or an electronic copy of a publication to detect and correct production errors of text or art.

So you would just be looking for white spaces, no spaces, typos, etc, without any editing input.

What you're describing is either re-translation following revision (if considered from the translation point of view) or editing or even re-writing (if considered from the publishing POV).


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Newbie to proofreading question - how to mark changes?

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