WHAT IS PROOFREADING AND WHEN TO USE IT?
Any written text, whether it’s newly written or a translation, will inevitably require proofreading and editing, reviewing grammar (spelling, punctuation, and typos), terminology, cultural and stylistic nuances of the language, and sentence construction.
Although authors often feel confident about the accuracy of their text and the clarity of their thoughts, industry professionals who work with writing and correcting texts on a daily basis remind us that it is usually difficult to spot your own mistakes, especially when you have to hand over a freshly written text and there is no time to read it once more with a fresh perspective the next day. Also, not all of us are gifted with a great sense of language and excellent knowledge of grammar – as we all know, punctuation in Latvian tends to be quite difficult. In such cases, a professional text proofreader and editor can help.
EDITOR AND PROOFREADER, EDITING AND PROOFREADING – WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
People who do not work in the soft sciences field sometimes get confused by the terms. Let’s look deeper into the professions and tasks of an editor and a proofreader, and what editing and proofreading mean:
Editor vs proofreader
The editor basically organises and supervises necessary editorial changes in the media, for example in the press, radio, television, electronic media, book publishing houses, implements the general design and basic idea of the publication and manages the work of the specific book or newspaper, cooperating with journalists, authors, translators, layout designers as well as proofreaders. The proofreader corrects grammatical errors in texts. Nowadays, when texts are written on the computer, grammar is often checked using spell check tools, and the proofreader’s work is closer to literary editing, correcting the style and making suggestions for the author on how to improve the flow of the text, so it is always important to inform the proofreader about the target reader and desired tone of the text.
Editing vs proofreading
Proofreading is entrusted to a professional proofreader with a degree in philology, but editing is carried out by an expert in the field, who is both well versed in the specific language as well as in the relevant culture, just as a translator specialises in a specified field and its terminology, so that the translation is transferred into the target language accurately, maintaining consistency and the right context. The editor’s task is to read each document as a separate text and not only check for possible errors but also make the content easier to understand, paying attention to the structure of sentences and other important nuances.
When proofreading services are used and why
Proofreading is necessary so that we can be sure that there are no translation errors left in the text, no misspellings that are not shown by spell check tools, all commas are in place, no special characters are missing, and the text is stylistically correct, appealing, fit for purpose, respectful and easy to understand by the target audience. Whether you need a translation or just editing of your written text, proofreading gives an outsider’s view that ensures quality and helps create a professional first impression.
ERRORS CORRECTED BY THE PROOFREADER
There are two sides of spelling in written language; the spelling of word forms, or orthography, and the dividing and linking units of speech, or punctuation. Different languages have different punctuation marks and grammar rules, which make it easier for the reader to perceive the written text and to understand it correctly and clearly. It would be difficult to read a text in which the spelling is not respected, and all palatalisation marks have disappeared, but it would also be difficult to understand the ideas expressed without punctuation marks. In the Latvian language, there is great importance in not only the punctuation mark at the end of the sentence, such as a full stop, question mark, exclamation mark, or ellipsis because it determines the intonation and meaning of the sentence, but also commas, dashes, hyphens, colons, semicolons, which help structure the text and introduce important conceptual differences and nuances.
In the case of punctuation, it is not sufficient to just learn the rules of grammar. Often, the use of punctuation marks is also determined by the stylistic tone and the function of the text. Fiction, scientific literature, academic research, journalism, business articles – each of these language styles has its own characteristics, which help to reveal the content directly and accurately. The greatest opportunity to use punctuation to reflect not only the grammatical structure of sentences but also various intonation and conceptual nuances is in fiction, but it is equally relevant in so-called copywriting texts – advertising, descriptive sections of websites, releases, etc.
Orthography is the conventional spelling system of a language. Here, the proofreader will make sure that capital letters are used correctly, remembering that, for example, in the Latvian language when writing the names of orders, all words are written with a capital letter, except for “order”, but only the first letter in the names of institutions; all macrons are where they should be; and the spelling of complicated words and exceptions are correctly used.
Similarly, in printed texts, correct transfer to a new line is also important, but in more complex translations, attention should be paid to the rendering of foreign words because the spelling is often unusual.
Stylistic mistakes and stylistics
Stylistics is the language’s ability to express additional information that indicates the communication environment and the speaker’s or writer’s subjective attitude towards the message or reader. These are the stylistic mistakes our language teacher in school marked with a wavy line in the margin of the notebook. Stylistic mistakes occur when stylistically and/or emotionally expressive forms of language are used in an inappropriate situation.
Language etiquette requires that there are words and sentence structures that we can safely use in everyday conversation and correspondence with friends, but would never include in a formal work email or legal contract. A proofreader has cultivated and developed the ability to navigate the language and the ability to choose words for specific language situations, so they will know when to use juicy slang, and when structured, business language is best suited.
A proofreader works in their native language
The proofreader’s or editor’s recommendations are useful not only after translation but also when creating marketing texts, where it is very important to avoid spelling mistakes and prepare texts that appeal to a certain demographic.
In translation offices, proofreaders work with texts in their native language, which ensures more than just grammatically correct text; it also ensures that the culture and traditions of the language are followed, as the proofreader knows the phraseology and various expressions that cannot be translated literally. The proofreader polishes the text and ensures that the translation is understandable and sounds natural in the target language, which is why Skrivanek makes sure a native proofreader reviews each translation.