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Proofreading and editing text – how do they differ and why is it worth proofreading and editing translated advertisements?

You manage a global business. Your customers are in Germany, Czech Republic or Lithuania. Marketers and copywriters create advertisement for the social media as well as graphics and press information in different languages. Sometimes they prepare translations themselves, and other times they order a translation service. However, there is one more element of this process that should be taken into account in their work: proofreading and editing. Why?

How does proofreading differ from editing?

Before we answer the question from the top of this article, let’s define the two terms. They are often listed together so customers are used to thinking that they mean the same. There is a significant difference between them, which is visible for instance in the price of both services – the latter one is more expensive.

Text editing is a service that relates to comprehensive preparation of text for publication. It is verified in terms of the content itself as well as the linguistic aspect. The style, composition and legibility of the message are taken into account, depending on the target audience. Content and logical errors are corrected as well as language mistakes (grammar, orthography, punctuation).

Proofreading, on the other hand, is the final stage of working on text. Stylistic, punctuation and grammatical errors are corrected in this case (e.g. double spaces, typos, etc.), while skipping the formal aspects of the text as this is done at the stage of editing.

Does translation require verification?

You may ask yourself this question because a translator is someone with specific linguistic knowledge and proper writing should be their strong point. Nevertheless, small errors happen even to professionals so another look at a text by someone else, in this case being the proofreader, will make it easier to spot any shortcomings. Due to the above, you will obtain top-quality text which is very important in the case of advertisements, as they are a company’s showpiece.

Another aspect is cultural adaptation of the text which is usually highly important in advertisements targeted at foreign customers. Besides the translation itself, there is the localisation aspect which covers adjusting the translated content to the recipient and elements of reality understandable to such a recipient. Professional translators should not have any problems with the above but some slips do happen from time to time. In such a situation, help of a good editor who is fluent in the target language, may be essential.

The first risk is translation with linguistic or punctuation errors. Also, the so-called calques may occur. Let’s take several examples from Polish: dokładnie (English: exactly), wydaje się być (English: it seems to be) or cokolwiek (English: whatever; this will look really bad if it’s used in the wrong context). As a result, you will receive a text that sounds correct and can be understood but something could feel odd. The bigger the language awareness of a customer, the more inconsistencies will be spotted.

Another risk may be generated by lack of knowledge of the cultural and linguistic reality, or lack of sense of ambiguity (if you have been working with text for long, you cannot be distant). This can be illustrated with two classic examples of advertisement failures: Mitsubishi Pajero (promotion in Spain did not go well, as “pajero” means… wanker) or the L’Oreal lipstick commercial that in Polish sounded more or less like “a mouthful with one blow”.

For a company that outsources translation of advertisement slogans, not only the price should be taken into account but also image-related risks that may be caused by using half-measures (such as asking your employees, who just know a foreign language to prepare the translation; saving on editing/proofreading costs). The outcome of the above actions may generate huge expenses not only in terms of finance.

Proofreading services? Thousands of translators are ready to help you.