Differences between proofreading, revision and editing

Proofreading, revision and editing are terms commonly used by professionals whose primary working tool is language. Editors, translators, literary consultants, proofreaders... All of them know which resource to use in any given situation. Outside of this field, however, it is common to confuse these terms and not fully understand the differences between them or which service is required.

This article takes a closer look at each of these services, clarifying the differences between them, to give you a better idea about which one you may need at any given time and what to expect from each of them.

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Proofreading, revision and editing: what do they consist of?

In the area of translation, which we are dealing with here, it’s a matter of subjecting a translated text to different levels of scrutiny. The option or options that apply depend on the verification systems used and the intended goal, based on the specialization and complexity of the content.

  • A revision consists of a bilingual comparison of the translation. Both versions—the original and the target language version—are checked to correct possible spelling and grammatical errors, and to ensure that the translation meets the purpose of the translated text.
  • Proofreading is a monolingual analysis of the translated text to ensure the best style, fluidity and level of readability and comprehension.
  • Editing ensures that the translated text complies with instructions and style preferences, even changing the order or the focus of the text.

Differences between proofreading and revision

No activity is free of mistakes, and translation is no exception, whether done by a human translator or machine translation software. That is precisely why there are a number of controls that guarantee the quality of the final result.

The differences between proofreading and revision are based on the purpose of the review, which determines the method employed.

Revision is done by a native translator with the appropriate knowledge of the subject matter to compare both texts and confirm the accuracy of the translated content against the original, check for spelling, grammatical or syntactical mistakes, and ensure consistency in the text.

The main difference with proofreading is that this service analyzes only the translated version, as a stand-alone text. It goes a step beyond revision, as the professional focuses on the readability of the final text while, of course, ensuring perfect spelling, grammar and syntax.

The proofreader is a native translator, different than the one who did the translation, who is seeing the text for the first time and reviews it for consistency, language fluidity and perfect integration into the context for which it is intended. In short, the proofreader verifies that the text will be perceived by readers as originally written in their own language.

Differences between proofreading and editing

As we can see, proofreading involves a critical analysis of the style, tone and consistency of the text to catch mistakes that might have been missed in the revision process. The proofreader ensures that the text meets its objective and does so consistently and smoothly.

Content editing, meanwhile–as mentioned at the beginning–aims to ensure absolute suitability based on the instructions given. To do that, the editor, a native speaker of the target language, examines sentence structure and logic, paragraph layout, capitalization, punctuation or focus. This process ensures that the content fits the format and can be read logically.

The differences between proofreading and editing or between either of these services and revision are determined by the purpose of each translation. The methodology to be applied depends on the subject matter and specialization of the texts, the quality required, or the means used to translate (for example, if automatic translation software has been used).

At Linguaserve we have expert native translators specialized in proofreading, revision and editing who ensure that all our translations are of the highest quality.


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