There is no single translation process. The elements described in previous chapters can be used as bricks and mortar to build a process suited to your needs. There are, however, several typical translation processes that suit different goals, target audiences and purposes.

Let’s begin with the framework. A framework, as we know, is the essential supporting structure of an object or process. The basic translation framework looks like this:

First, let us look more closely at the Translation > QA part. Here are 4 most popular translation processes:

At the bottom of the page you’ll find our downloadable decision-making sheet to help you define the type of process best suited to your needs.

Find descriptions of the most common processes below.

Translation, editing, proofreading

Translation process: TEP (Translation, Editing, Proofreading)

TEP has always been the golden standard of translation and has long been the only translation process that guarantees top-quality output. In many ways this remains the case and, despite the drive for cutting costs, many companies stick to TEP for their most important publishing projects.

At the same time, TEP is the process that employs the most people, with 3 pairs of human eyes focusing on the content to make it impeccable. Here are the linguistic parts of the process:

  1. First, a specialised translator translates the text.
  2. Then a focused editor ensures that the translation conveys the exact meaning of the original in adequate style and contains no industry-specific errors.
  3. Finally, a proofreader ensures that the spelling, punctuation and grammar are top notch.

This is the best solution for high-profile projects like public trust companies, print projects, e-books and other high-visibility assets. TEP is also the advisable solution for translating self-service customer care solutions.

When you choose TEP, you might also consider a language sign-off (LSO). This is recommended for publishing projects such as books, magazines, brochures and guides (both in print and online) as well as high-profile marketing and advertising content.

Translation, editing

Translation process: TE (Translation, editing)

TE is a shorter process that’s cheaper and faster. Sometimes, it is a better solution for certain texts.

  1. First, a specialised translator translates the text.
  2. Then a focused editor ensures that the translation conveys the exact meaning of the original in adequate style and contains no industry-specific errors.

The proofreading phase is missing. What does this mean for the final text?

  • Editors are linguists, of course, and if they see a misspelling or a misused comma, they will know what to do with it. They also make sure that the style of the translation reflects that of the original.
  • The process still uses automated QA, which provides basic spelling and punctuation checks.
  • In some cases, however, software is blind and only a proofreader will notice some of the typos or errors in word- and line-breaks.

With TE, your translations will be accurate and the average text quality will be high, but they may not always be perfect.

We suggest choosing TE if your focus is on high quality, but your budget is not big enough for TEP. One suggested use case is customer care articles.

Our default company standard is to always follow translation with at least editing.

Translation, proofreading

Translation process: TP (translation, proofreading)

Like TE, TP is a shorter process that is cheaper and faster than TEP. Because of the proofreader’s work, the target text will have no spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors, but there is always the risk of inaccuracy or inadequate style as the proofreader doesn’t refer to the source text. The linguistic part of the process looks like this:

  1. First, a specialised translator translates the text.
  2. Then a proofreader makes sure that the spelling, punctuation, and grammar are top notch.

TP may be your choice when correctness is more important that accuracy, for example in online reviews. It is not, however, a process that we recommend.

Proofreading, however, is the solution for content created from scratch – multilingual copywriting and transcreation process require proofreading.

Machine translation, post-editing, proofreading

Translation process: MT,PE (machine translation, post-editing)

We explained previously that machine translation and post-editing are roughly the equivalent of human translation. However, the processes tend to be slightly different as machine translation solutions are often selected by clients who are focused on substantial cost-cutting or are confined to very tight schedules.

The assumption of these clients is often that the human post-editor provides them with the same quality as a translation editor. This is partly caused by the misleading naming – post-editing has “editing” in its name, which implies that it follows editing, when in actual fact it comes a step before translation editing. The assumption that post-editing can serve as editing is a misconception.

A translation editor looks at a fairly accurate and smooth translation, as well as at the original to ensure they mean the same. A post-editor works at a lower level in the process. The translated material they work with is often of poor quality – including sentences that make no sense at all. Post-editors have the task of making the translation readable and fairly logical, but they cannot focus on the nuances of meaning and style at the same time. Therefore, in many cases, they are unable to provide the same level of accuracy as a translation editor.

The quality of machine translation is improving, and in some language pairs and subject matters this assumption may prove feasible. It is simply important to consider all factors before selecting the final process.

This linguistic process looks like this:

  1. First, a machine translation engine translates the text.
  2. Then a human post-editor verifies the translation.
  3. Finally, a proofreader makes sure that the spelling, punctuation and grammar are top notch.

Like TP, this process ensures correctness but not full accuracy and relevance of style. This defines the range of projects it can be used for, e.g. online reviews.


Machine translation, post-editing

As mentioned before, this process is equivalent to human translation in terms of quality. It looks like this:

  1. First, a machine translation engine translates the text.
  2. Then a human post-editor verifies the translation.

On the downside: the process is more complicated than human translation (with two stages instead of one), therefore there is more risk of error and the logistics are more complicated. There is also more expert knowledge involved – as machine translation engines develop, choosing the right one for a given subject and language pair becomes a complex skill.

On the upside: with large-volume projects you can set the process once and use the preset across the whole scope, which may make the overall process cheaper. In large wordcount projects, this solution can become 10-20% cheaper than traditional human translation.

Our suggested use of this process is as an equivalent of human translation in TEP, TP and TE processes.

Machine translation

There are cases where companies decide to use machine translation as the only element in the process. These are usually companies with very little awareness (of the value of quality communication). They’re catering for the needs of the lowest end of the market (very cheap products sold online around the world) or – on the contrary – companies with huge awareness of their exact needs and the value a given type of content brings to them. The latter type of companies may be inclined to use machine translation to large-volume materials of the lowest visibility, such as:

  • internal materials
  • barely used customer care and manual-related content

Is it good enough? For the aforementioned purposes it can be – but not always.

As promised, we present the TRANSLATION PROCESS QUESTIONNAIRE. This will help you to choose your translation process with ease.


Resources: selection and maintenance >>

<< Translation tools explained