The Importance of Proofreading
Thread poster: NancyLynn

Local time: 03:33
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...

Oct 9, 2007

This is the theme for one of our conference sessions this coming weekend in Montreal: Our speaker will be discussing the move to include proofreading as part of the standardisation process, as indicated in another thread in this forum.



Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:33
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Important practically; a challenge financially Oct 9, 2007

The problem with proofreading when it comes to translation is that it usually occupies a tiny proportion of project budgets. Consequently, translators are offered perhaps 2 or 3 cents per word for proofreading services. These would be modest rates in a best case scenario (i.e., a highly polished text requiring only minor changes). In the (in my experience) more likely scenario in which a translator is in effect being asked to "proofread" a translation that has been inadquately written--well, such rates are an utter disgrace.

I would add in this connection that it is absolutely inexcusable for native English-speaking project managers not to know when they have before them a text that has been poorly translated. After all, even if such PMs don't know the source language from which the document was translated, they presumably have sufficient command of English to know when they are looking at something that has been poorly written. Yet so often, wretchedly done translations requiring comprehensive rewrites are farmed out as "proofreading" jobs for the standard low rates. I repeat--INEXCUSABLE.

Of course, if agencies have qualified professionals do the original translation in the first place, then a modest rate for proofreading can be a defensible practice, given that the work in question would then involve a comparatively short amount of time. I have seen one large agency (one of the behemoths in the industry), manage projects in this way. It does not work out to a fantastic hourly rate for the translator by any means, but at least it helps him or her avoid the grim reality of redoing poorly done work for Burger King table-wiping wages.

[Edited at 2007-10-10 18:51]


Amy Duncan (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:33
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Set your own price for proofreading Oct 9, 2007

I have made a "deal" with the agencies I work for that to do a proofreading job:

1) I need to see it first. If it's really atrocious, I charge my regular translation rate.

2) I need to see the original, if there is one. Often there is no original, because the text has been written directly by a non-native speaker. Usually those need a LOT of correcting, so I charge full price in those cases.



Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:33
Spanish to English
Payment by the hour Oct 10, 2007

I get paid by the hour for proof-reading and it seems to me that that the only realistic form of payment.


Daniel Meier  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:33
English to German
+ ...
Not only rates Oct 10, 2007

Proofreading rates are one aspect. Another one is the fact, many agencies and translators are not aware of, that proofreading is a different kind of work than translating. Although the difference is not quite so obvious as between translating - interpreting, a good translator does not neccesarily have to be a good proofreader.
I agree that proofreading is an important part of the whole process, but I haven´t seen any agency making a difference between translator and proofreader. If a translator passes their recruitment process, he/she is automatically registered also as a proofreader.
So what makes a good proofreader? What are the differences between actually translating and proofreading an already translated text?


Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:33
English to Swedish
+ ...
Every translation should be proofread, but few are Oct 10, 2007

My rates for proofreading are no secret, they are clearly displayed on my web site.

Sven Petersson
Medical translator
Web site:


Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:33
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Me too Oct 10, 2007

Lesley Clarke wrote:

I get paid by the hour for proof-reading and it seems to me that that the only realistic form of payment.

I also charge an hourly rate for proofreading and make this clear to the client. Then, if the job requires massive alteration one is adequately compensated. If the client doesn't accept my hourly rate I turn down the job.
Kind regards,


Lorraine Lamont  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:33
Editing, Proofreading for ESL companies Oct 31, 2007

I work with many clients whose first language (and sometimes second and thrid!) is not English. I base rates on the complexity of the content, length, quality of writing, and deadline. Two of my favorite clientele include a native Madarin Ph.D. candidate in Marriage and Family Counseling whose first language was Cantonese. She is in a Masters level program in Canada. Another author, Dr. Fazeli, for whom I performed a draft to 2nd galley book edit ("Iraq Decoded"), spoke not one, but four languages fluently before learning English! Lastly, my rate quotes take into account how much 'intuitive editing' I will need to do. Hope that helps!icon_smile.gif


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The Importance of Proofreading

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