The art of revision

​Revision – a bilingual corrective process carried out by a person other than the translator – is highly relevant to achieve good quality translations. Since it is not an easy job, here are some useful tips:

Firstly, the longer the document, the more time should be spent on the initial steps:

  • browse through the text to make sure that the translation is complete, and that there no unpleasant surprises (such as the caption of a figure not translated, a missing table, etc.);
  • check whether the references are correct and that the wording of any templates has been followed;
  • check the formatting: the layout of the translation should correspond exactly to the source document;
  • quickly assess the style – does it suit the target audience of the text?

The real process of revision – reading carefully the text in the source and target languages and comparing whether the message has been communicated in a proper way – requires high concentration. It should be remembered that mistakes can occur not only in the meaning conveyed by words, but are often hidden in details: an incorrect preposition, tense, word order or even a comma can change the meaning of the whole sentence.

Beware of the traps while revising: do not create errors or fail to find them; do not make unnecessary changes, reword or even recompose whole paragraphs – you will waste valuable time, and the message may be distorted. Remember, all corrections should be justifiable.

Finally, when you have finished your revision, there is still a job to do: provide feedback. An objective and well reasoned feedback letter with polite and clear comments helps to avoid the recurrence of mistakes. It is an excellent training tool, binds a translator more strongly to the organisation, and shows that quality is really relevant.

Mall L.