How to Make Your Translations Error-Free

Translators are expected to provide error-free translations not only because of their language skills, but because anything else is deemed irresponsible and unprofessional. You may not realize it now, but that’s how you lose a client in an instant.

Translators are more than capable to review and correct their own translations. However, this evidently simple task may not be so simple after all considering all the pressure deadlines and the occasional “blindness” to our own mistakes. No matter how many times we read a text, many errors can go unnoticed.

As a translator that has been in the business for a decade now, I want to reveal you my self-assessment flow and thoughts on how to make corrections before delivering a translation. These tips may even help you when you have been assigned on assessing someone else’s text.

Take a Break

The first rule to correct your own translation is to take a break before doing so. Reviewing a translation as soon as you have finished will increase the risk of ignoring the mistakes. If it’s a rush job, the chances that you will deliver a low quality translation are even bigger! You should leave the text for a while and resume it with a fresh mind and a new pair of eyes.

I usually like to take a break by making myself some fresh cup of espresso.

Different Format

Reading the translation in a different format will help you detect errors that you do not see on the screen. Printing a copy and editing it with a pen can be an option, but changing the size, color or font of a document can also help.

Do Not Rely On Spell Checkers

Spell checkers detect spelling mistakes, but will not highlight words that you have mistakenly used by accident. For example, “find” can be easily miss-typed into to “fiend”, and the problem with this is that both words are legitimate, but have different meanings.

Find and Replace

The find and replace function can be an effective tool for finding a variety of errors. Translators often make the same mistakes repeatedly, or at the end of a translation may realize that they chose an incorrect term. Using “find and replace” is a good way to find your typical mistakes and also check for double spaces or quickly change terms.

Be careful if your language has article forms that change with the gender. This can create lots of problems when using the “find and replace” function without taking into account all the varieties of the term.

Screen Reader

Using a screen reader that reads your text aloud is an excellent choice. Errors you’ve overlooked can become apparent when you listen to them in speech.

Mark the Words

If you decide to print your work and correct it on a sheet, simply point the words with a pen and you will have a greater concentration to identify errors.

Partner Up with Another Translator

Partnering with a colleague to correct your documents is an economical way to have another pair of eyes to achieve a high quality translation.

Highlight Errors in the Source Text

As a translator, you can easily identify errors in the source text. Take advantage of your knowledge and inform your client of any errors you may encounter. With this in mind, your client can even be more understanding if, despite your efforts, you miss some translation error.

Not all of the techniques we mentioned work with all translators. The best way is to try some of your own until you find the one that best suits your way of working. Correcting your translation is an essential part of your work and these tips will serve to achieve a translation without errors.

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