Copyediting, Editing and Proofreading are Not the Same!
If you are a translator, you will already be used to proofreading your own work. In fact, good translators may proofreads their work, or get someone else to do it more than once. But what happens when you are given something that needs proofreading itself, or it even needs editing. This should not be necessary, unless you, as a translator are offering proofreading services, or editing services or both as well as translating. If you do have to edit and proofread a document before translation, then you would be justified in advising the client that this would cost extra!
There can be some confusion around the difference between editing and proofreading. It is common for a person who is mainly involved in providing proofreading services to find that the flow of the text is not smooth. There may be parts of the text, sentences, phrases or whole paragraphs that can be improved. Just proofreading the text will not really improve it. The document needs editing. This requires more time and skill than just proofreading and it should be pointed out to the client that editing is required and that this will incur an extra cost.
When it comes to editing and proofreading, the editing is always done first. Editing may mean having a license to change whole chunks of text so that it is more understandable and the flow is better.
Proofreading involves checking punctuation, spelling and typos only. Theoretically, this could be done by any number of online spellcheckers and grammar checkers, but this is not very efficient as wrongly spelled words may not be picked up by a spellchecker as they are in fact correctly spelled, but not the right words in the context of the text. A human proofreader is always the most accurate final check on a section of text.
Just to be complete, copyediting, or subediting, is a term used that combines proofreading and editing, although the editing is more confined to picking up inconsistencies in things like units, dates, times, names and locations. Copyediting also involves checking on the style of the document’s text. Some clients may have a style guide which a copyeditor would use to modify the text so that it conforms to the guide.
A professional translator normally expects the text to be translated to be already edited and proofread, otherwise this could lead to misunderstanding and an inaccurate translation. However, assuming a well presented document will still need some copyediting by the translator or the LSP after translation has been completed. Proofreading services will be part of the translation in this case and the cost of the final editing and proofreading will be absorbed into the cost of the translation.