Reviewing translations: Getting it right

Do you have…

  • International sales teams wanting a say in the marketing literature provided by head office?
  • Employees and agents in other countries wanting to influence translated documentation?
  • Members of staff who are a native speakers of the target language?

…If so, then you may want to include one or more review stages in your translation project.

A review stage allows members of your team to edit the translation, either early on during the project to serve as a guide for the remainder of the translation, at regular intervals set by you, or upon completion to fulfil your QA policy procedures and finalise the text.

We completely understand that you may want to review our translations before putting them into use, and we want to work with you make the process simple, save you time and effort, and produce the best quality, most suitable translations for you.

Who should be a reviewer?

There are different stages of a translation project, and your colleagues with varied skill sets can all be helpful, whether they have a good command of their own language, the target language, or neither! The key is to involve the right people at the right time.

Project Initiation Phase

Sales and marketing teams speaking either the source or target language, who may or may not speak both languages, are best placed to advise on a Style Guide. Stylistic concerns should be addressed prior to project commencement, with the creation of a Style Guide. Your Project Manager will provide you with a set of questions to help you create the Style Guide, which will reduce the amount of amends an editor will have to make, as the translator will better understand the objective.

The technical team for the target language should assist with the creation of a terminology glossary.


Members of the technical team, sales and marketing team, or other individuals native in the target language with a good understanding of the source language can review the initial translations. The review of the first 10% of the text, for example, ensures that we understand exactly what you are looking for, and helps us to translate the remaining 90% in the same fashion, which means fewer edits for reviewers of the completed translation.


Only native speakers of the target language should review the final text, however if they are not also proficient in the source language, changes should be limited to terminology or minor edits to prevent distancing the text from the source language.

Managing review stages

If you are responsible for your company’s translation project, please remember that you need to manage your reviewers; if you want the translations to match the source text, you must stress this to your reviewers. If you are happy for them to make any changes that they see fit in order to meet the needs of the end user, bear in mind that you won’t know what exactly they have changed, which could lead to issues in the future. Please also note that not everyone writes well in their native language. We all know clever people who are good at what they do, but who simply can’t spell or correctly differentiate between your and you’re. Don’t let just anyone loose on your translation – this is not a case of letting someone have free reign to edit your text purely because they are a native speaker of the target language.

More importantly, do not allow anyone who is not a native speaker of the target language to edit the text. If someone who is not a native speaker spots something that they feel should be changed, please bring this to us and we will look into it.

The process

The actual review process couldn’t be easier. We can produce a 3-column Word document exported from our Translation Memory software: the first column is the source text, the second column is the translation, and third column is where any edits to the text should be made. Automatically re-imported by our software, this document ensures your edits are made to the Translation Memory, and are easily accessible for your next translation. The final file we produce is in the same format as your source file. This works with any kind of source document, be it an Excel file, HTML file, export from your design software, etc.

Bear in mind that if someone directly edits your content in its final file format, for example in a CMS, you may not know what has been changed, and furthermore, the changes will not be stored in our Translation Memory. This means future translations will not be consistent.


At the beginning of the project, your Project Manager will provide estimated timings for the review stages. Reviewers should be made aware of when they will be sent the text to review, and when they should return the reviewed content. We fully understand that your reviewers have other job responsibilities in addition to assisting with the translation project, and ask that they endeavour to return any comments or edited content within the specified timeframe in order to keep the project on schedule. Delayed receipt of reviewed files will impact project timescales, possibly including delays to the final delivery date.

Stylistic preference

It’s important to remember that everyone has their own writing style. With the exception of an initial review stage, we at Web-Translations feel the role of an editor is not to impose their writing style on the text, rephrasing the content in their preferred way, but instead to carry out a final check to make sure the text is 100% perfect for its intended use. There may be company-specific terminology of which the translator wasn’t aware, there may be pricing to confirm, additional comments to add, etc. The reviewer has an understanding of their company that even the best, most experienced translator does not, making their input highly valuble – but don’t encourage an editor to make changes for the sake of it.

Let us help you!

Your Project Manager can liaise directly with your reviewers if you prefer. We can also arrange conference calls to allow reviewers to communicate with our translators. Just let us know what we can do to help!

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