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The TEP Process in the Translation Industry: Why Is It a Determinant of Quality?

The TEP Process in the Translation Industry: Why Is It a Determinant of Quality?

Though unknown to most, TEP is the process by which most language service providers operate. TEP stands for Translation-Editing-Proofreading. These are the most important elements in the translation workflow and they ensure that your text is word-perfect every time. Essential for high-quality and accurate translations, TEP is sacred for us here at Crisol Translation Services and we are meticulous in their execution.

The T in TEP Stands for “Translation”

This part may seem obvious, but there are many different stages in the translation process. When faced with a project, first we must choose who in our team is best suited for the task. This involves considering the subject matter, language pair, and time required. Should the text be of a specialist nature, we must ensure that the translator taking on the project is an industry expert, so our client receives the most accurate final product.

Then, we judge the nature of the translation work, as this decides which translation technology is required. Some clients may request that their texts, when they are more technical and empirical-based, be pre-translated with Machine Translation (MT). Needless to say, human translators later edit the raw machine translation output to ensure immaculate translations.

Some other times, especially when it’s a client we’ve worked with before, we store their terminology in a translation memory, which improves the speed at which we can complete future translations.

The E in TEP Stands for “Editing”

As almost all language service providers (LSPs) make use of translation technology, the editing process is of the utmost importance. While translation technology is a fantastic improvement to the industry, it cannot yet match the accuracy of human translation. As a result, it requires human editing to guarantee the translation is of the quality our clients expect.

The editing process involves comparing the source text with the output texts and ensuring that the terminology, grammar, style, naturalness, and adequacy to the target reader are all correct. Standards are set beforehand and a style guide acts as a compass for translators and editors alike.

It is advised that editors justify their judgements to the translator so he or she has a chance to object to some of the suggested changes. When editors and translators work collaboratively, the resulting product is of the highest standard. More over, just like the translator who worked on the project, the editor must also be a subject matter specialist.

The P in TEP Stands for “Proofreading”

Finally, proofreading is the final step before we send the translated text back to the client. At this point, the proofreader focuses solely on the target text (i.e., they don’t compare it to the source text) and catch any sloppy sentences, typos, and general presentation issues to ensure all the content is of the required standard.

Put simply, then, the difference between editing and proofreading is that the proofreader does not use the source text as a reference. The proofreader only verifies if the output text is legible and natural-sounding.

Unlike the translator and the editor, the proofreader doesn’t need to be a subject matter expert. Moreover, there are several useful tools for proofreaders to ensure nothing is overlooked. Here at Crisol, we work with the likes of Grammarly and XBench.

Why Is TEP Important?

Aside from being at the heart of the translation process, the TEP sequence is our way of making sure the translation client receives work that is of the quality they both deserve and expect. If we were to skip a step, we could potentially miss a mistake that could cost both the client and the company time and money.

On the one hand, if we skip the editing process, the output may differ significantly from the source text. On the other hand, if we skip the proofreading process, the output text may have grammatical errors and not be comprehensible. By employing all steps of translation, editing and proofreading, you can be assured that your translation will be of the highest quality.

The Danger of Over-Editing

Over-editing means making amendments that are purely preferential and have no impact on the meaning or readability of the translated text. While many linguists claim that stylistic corrections are purely preferential and, therefore, fall within over-editing, we don’t agree.

Inappropriate or poor style can prevent the translated text from performing its function, therefore impairing its quality, and might even derive in distorted meanings. In other cases, poor style can make target readers perceive the text as dissonant with the brand’s tone of voice, which goes against localisation best practices.

Examples of actual over-editing may involve things like replacing words by complete synonyms, adding optional punctuation, implementing unnecessary grammatical changes without the original version being incorrect, etc.

What Is the Difference Between Editing and Post-Editing?

While both editing and post-editing have in common that they happen at the end of the translation step and yield an acceptable translation as a result, these two processes are not the same thing.

Post-editing means that a human translator is editing or revising text that has been translated by machine translation software. As is the case with any editing work, the professional carrying out must be an expert in their field. As explained by SDL Trados:

Over the last decade, post-editing has become a mainstream choice for enterprises wanting to provide their content in different languages to a global audience. The emergence of Neural Machine Translation technology has led to renewed focus on MT and post-editing. The translator profile is evolving in line with the new translation and technology requirements. One such requirement is the need to offer post-editing as part of a complete skills portfolio. The ongoing technology developments, in particular Neural MT, do not reduce the role of translators but change and enhance it, opening up new opportunities.

What About Pre-Editing?

As you may have deduced, pre-editing is the process whereby a human prepares a piece of text before running it through machine translation, to boos output quality. Good pre-editing will reduce or even eliminate the post-editing workload.

As with post-editing, the pre-editor is a specialist who can analyse a text from the perspective of a machine translation engine and anticipate potential output errors. The pre-editor will edit the text to reduce sentence length, avoid complex or ambiguous syntactic structures, ensure term consistency, among others.

Any Questions?

Is there anything else you’d like to know about the TEP process? Let us know! If you’d like to find out more about our language service offering, email us at

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