Basic Steps
in Professional Translation Services
from Client’s Perspective

Steps of professional translation service


Professional translation services do not only translate documents. Actually, the most basic steps of the process are: preparation, translation, editing, formatting and proofreading.

The client writes documents or amends available texts to make them suitable for translation. It means avoiding or reducing to a minimum idiomatic language, slang, jargon, etc. However, this rule does not apply to advertising or literary texts.

Enough space should be allowed for expansion of a translated text. Sometimes, the translated text is longer than the original. For example, in English into Russian and English into Ukrainian language pairs, the translated text (Russian or Ukrainian) is about 10% to 20% longer than the original (English).

The client prepares reference materials to be used in the translation process: glossaries, style guides, preexisting translations, translation memories (if available), etc.

The client contacts a provider of professional translation services (translation company/translator) to come to an agreement about language translation parameters and to obtain a translation quote. Asking for translation samples (specific documents translated by the translation service provider) will help to assess quality and responsiveness of the latter.


-- Localization involves taking a product and making it linguistically and culturally appropriate to the target market where it will be used and sold.

-- Localization is the process of modifying products or services to account for differences in distinct markets.

The Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA)

Translation is a core step of the professional translation service. A translation company/translator selected by the client translates the documents according to language translation parameters agreed on in advance.

In addition, the translated documents (including graphics, dates, addresses, currencies, phone number, space requirements, etc.) can be adopted for a specific market or group. This process is called localization. While translation and localization overlap, they are not identical.


The next step of the professional translation service is editing. Once the translation is completed, the translation company/translator performs editing. Editing (also called revision) is comparison of the target text (translation) and source text (original) in order to check the translation for accuracy and style. The best practice is to send the text for proofreading and editing to a linguist who is a native speaker of the target language.

In addition, the translation can be sent to the client’s reviewer (in-house linguist, subject matter expert, partner/end-user in the target market) for bilingual and/or monolingual revision to verify the translation against predetermined translation parameters and appropriateness for the intended audience. After that, the translation company/translator analyzes and incorporates changes suggested by the client’s reviewer.

Editing, performed either by in-house staff or by a freelance translator accepting freelance editing assignments, is one of the forms of quality control. Upon the client’s request, other quality control steps can be performed, including terminology check, back translation, and linguistic validation.

Terminology check is performed to check if a translator has correctly and consistently used the company specific terminology and industry specific terms.

Back translation is a translation back into the source language. At first, a translator performs a forward translation (translation from the source language into the target language). Then, another translator, who does not have access to the source text, translates the forward translation back into the target language. The purpose of the back translation is to demonstrate that the forward translation has the same meaning as the source text. It enables to identify any mistranslations and inaccuracies in the forward translation.

Linguistic validation is a complex process of forming translations that convey the same meaning for diverse groups of patients within the framework of multinational clinical trials. Linguistic validation includes forward translation, editing, back translation, reconciliation of discrepancies, medical review, cognitive interviewing (testing with a sample group of patients), and final verification of the translations.

Editing is often confused with proofreading. Although both are steps of the quality control process, editing and proofreading are actually different tasks which supplement each other.

More on editing: Editing tips


Indesign for Translators

A step by step guide to preparing InDesign files for translation. For translators, translation agencies and desktop publishers. 2nd most ordered translation format yet so many have problems due to poor preparation. This guide saves hours and headaches.

The edited and reviewed translation is typeset and formatted according to client requirements, or desk-top published, if applicable. Page layout, headers/footers and pagination are verified. Graphic elements are reviewed and optimized.


The final basic step of the professional translation service is proofreading. Since text length in the target language may differ considerably from the source text length, proofreading (final check) is performed to avoid, for example, having only half of the text visible on a page, overwritten by other text or hidden under graphic elements.

To complete the picture of the professional translation service, one should mention such specific steps as transcreation (creative conversion of advertising, media and literature materials into other languages), translation of film subtitles, compilation and functional testing of software and websites, notarization of translations, copy editing, and transcription services.


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_____________________________________________________________________ Website owner: Irina Lychak, self-employed freelance linguist, Russian translator, Ukrainian translator, Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine

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