11 Reasons Why You Need a Proofreader

Clients often ask us why they need the services of a proofreader if the translator should be doing a good job, reviewing their own work before submitting it to the client and thus the work should be flawless. Truth is, we all make mistakes. And more often than not, we need a second pair of eyes to review our work and detect the errors that we cannot detect ourselves. Human beings have a tendency to overlook their own mistakes, simply because it is within our limitations to do so.

Here are 11 reasons why you need to hire a proofreader when having work translated or even when writing in your mother tongue:

1. Someone who is reading the document for the first time, comes to it with entirely fresh eyes.

2. Many translation projects are due quickly, not allowing the original translator to distance himself/herself from the translated text. In those cases, the text is too familiar and the translator often skips over layers of errors.

3. The original translator might feel that skimming through the document is enough, as he/she might think they have already done everything right (our brains play tricks on us).

4. By allowing a separate proofreader to take over after the translation is done, the translator can do a swifter and faster job by not having to worry about making mistakes that can be caught at a later stage. This doesn’t mean the translator won’t research for technical terms and their equivalents in the target language, it just means the translation can flow faster by not focusing on grammar and spelling, but instead focusing on content.

5. It’s always good to get a second opinion before delivering the job.

6. The additional proofreader can only add suggestions and corrections to the document; most of these are “invisible” to the original translator until pointed out by someone else versed in grammar and skilled in the art of proofreading. Someone who does this on a constant basis.

7. A proofreader is not necessarily someone bilingual, but it is always someone whose mother tongue is the target language and who will read the document as if it were natively written in that language. As such, this professional is not influenced by other languages and can catch faux-amis and other common literal translation mistakes.

8. A professional proofreader has mastered the art of proofreading, and uses different techniques and approaches, for example, reading out loud, checking one type of error at a time, separating the text into line sentences, using the track changes feature provided by MS Word (if proofreading on the computer), using a ruler (if proofreading on paper), check spelling by reading backwards (from the last word of the document to the first, in order to avoid being distracted by content).

9. A proofreader, by the very nature of the profession, needs to keep up to date with grammar handbooks and dictionaries. This gives them an advantage over translators that might only stay up to date with dictionaries.

10. An additional linguist may want to discuss subjects with the original translator, spurring new ideas and ways of enhancing the content and its fluency.

11. If in doubt, a proofreader will look up things that seem odd, like where to place a comma or if a comma needs to be suppressed or replaced by something else.

Do you need more reasons? Maybe you can come up with some in the comments below.

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Written by Bryan Lattke
Bryan Lattke is a professional translator, editor, market strategist, techie and serial entrepreneur who has a knack for travel, writing, and networking. Since 2003 he has been the Chief Creative Director of Trustlations, Inc. | Trustlations.com, overseeing translation, proofreading, copy editing, and DTP services for clients ranging from individuals to Fortune 500 companies.