Whether for reasons of cost or convenience, some companies prefer to take care of their translation needs entirely in-house. After all, we often work in diverse environments together with multilingual colleagues both from home and from abroad – so why not take advantage of the resources we have on hand such as our proofreading service?

It makes perfect sense that in-house translation may indeed be the right choice for certain companies. But the problem sometimes is that multi-lingual staff working in-house are not always specialised within the field of translation. They often get asked to translate into a second language rather than their native tongue and, without specialised language training, they may simply lack the flair to really polish up a translated text.

Sometimes the end result can be flat or clunky prose that reads poorly – or in the worst case, texts beset by tricky language errors that will trigger the cringe reflex in your native readership.

But what many companies may be interested to learn is that the choice doesn’t always come down to translating in-house or outsourcing entirely. There is a third option for tighter budgets that can polish up the work you do internally and help give you an edge – professional proofreading for in-house translations.

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is a broad term that can range from editing and revision through to spellchecking and quality controls. At its most basic level, proofreading is the process of identifying and correcting minor grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors that may seem invisible to the non-native eye, yet horribly embarrassing to native speakers.

At the more involved end of the scale, it can also encompass copy editing to make sure that your texts read smoothly and succeed in preforming a certain function.

How does professional proofreading work?

When commissioning a proofreading project, it is important to take some time to discuss your text and how you would like it to change. Are you simply after a second pair of eyes to double check that everything is watertight? Or do you need somebody to completely reshape and recraft the text you have written? Taking ten minutes to chat about your text will make sure you get the end result you want and may also influence the total cost of the service.

After that – the process is relatively straight-forward. You send your in-house translation alongside the original text if possible and a professional proofreader, who is a qualified linguist and a native speaker of the target language, will do all in their power to make your text sparkle and shine.

Who are professional proofreading and editing services right for?

Let’s take a look at an example:

We have a Danish start-up with a small team of bilingual speakers who wants to translate their marketing materials into the most widely spoken European languages. Let’s say the key accounts manager has spent a few years studying in Spain, another team member is half-French and everyone no doubt has a competent grasp of English.

In-house translation therefore seems like a no-brainer – it’ll be cheap and easy, without the need to hire in any outside expertise.

But when the completed texts are printed off and shown to a native speaker, a problem appears:

The style of the language follows the natural patterns and rhythms of Danish. There are way too many commas, strange expressions that make sense but sound odd and some key business-critical terms have been rendered in an ambiguous or incomprehensible way.

Meeting at eye level? Red thread? No cow on the ice?

These expressions make perfect sense to Danish speakers, but they will leave native readers scratching their heads.

So the texts are sent off to a professional proofreader who tidies up the punctuation, corrects the grammatical errors and fixes up the spelling mistakes. Eye level becomes down to earth and red threads become common themes – so that the final texts not only make sense, but catch the attention and imagination of their readers. The end result is a sparkling set of texts that conveys professionalism and attention to detail and which expertly markets the company’s products and services in several key languages.

So there you have it – proofreading is not just a quick revision at the end of a translation, but a service and a skill in its own right that even companies translating in-house can benefit from. The perfect way to polish up your translations!