Should clients pay for proofreading?

Whether it’s software coding or writing: Quality assurance costs money. Somewhere between 30-50% of a decent translation’s price are costs of review.

Some reasons include:

  • You need a second pair of eyes – or you have the author spend more time on correction, both of which cause higher costs of labor.
  • You want the proofreader to be more experienced than the translator. A rookie will either overcorrect perfectly fine writing (and cause huge cleanup costs) or not catch real errors.
  • To find a professional, you need to pay a professional. Some agencies charge clients too little (or pocket a too high cut), skew their budgets towards translation over proofreading, and end up not really knowing what they’re buying or selling.

Clients can insource the proofreading by having their staff do it, provided someone speaks the target language. So it’s best suited for jobs involving your country language and English / a world language.

Even if your staff are not native-level speakers of the target language, they should be able to check the translation for consistency with the source and correctness. For the linguistic quality, you have to rely on the translator.

Some of the benefits of in-house proofreading include:

  • Clients know their job best. A translator should be able to produce a well written text, but technical details might escape them. The best proofreader is a subject-matter expert, not a native linguist.
  • Direct communication produces better results. You can clarify all questions with the translator without having a third party involved. As a side effect, you improve your working relationship with your supplier and the quality of future jobs.
  • The translator will be prepared to rework their translation in detail. But be aware that you won’t find any translator who puts in this extra effort at or below the market rate.

Whether you choose to insource or outsource the proofreading, ask the translator specifially what portion of your project’s time and budget they allocate to it. Ask them who will do it.

If you want to save costs and improve your control over the final product, offer to have your people do the proofreading.

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