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Back Translations and Other Quality Assurance Processes

Companies spend a lot of time creating their written materials; messaging, documentation, manuals, advertising, etc. Materials are written, edited and rewritten several times to get the words and the message just right. When these materials are sent for translation, just as much care should be taken to make sure the words and message say and convey exactly what they should.

Professional translators know how much time and care was put into creating the original messages and materials. It is their job to make sure that they convey the same message in the new language. This can be achieved in several ways. Some of these quality assurance (QA) processes are standard for every translation (and included in the original quote you get from Rapport International), and some incur additional fees. But when your reputation is on the line, you may want to consider spending a little more time and money to get it right.

translation quality assurance QAProofreading

Proofreading is defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary as “the process of finding and correcting mistakes in text before it is printed or put online.” Just like a copywriter will proofread their own work to make sure it is grammatically correct, flows well, uses appropriate words, and conveys the right message, a professional translator will do the same. A high-quality translator will convert the material to the new language while paying attention to grammar as well as meaning. If they run into words they can not translate, or statements that could have two or more meanings they will contact the client to clarify how these situations should be handled. Finally, once complete the translator will proofread - make a final pass through the material, just like the copywriter did, to make sure the translated copy is grammatically correct, flows well, uses appropriate words, and conveys the right message. Also, part of the final proofread is to make sure the new material is culturally sensitive to the target audience.

Proofreading is an included service performed on every translation performed by Rapport International. There is no additional fee for this service.

Learn more about creating a  Translation Management Plan.


When a translation company refers to a “review” or “internal review” what they are referring to is the process of sending the proofread translation to the client who then has a bilingual speaker of their choice (an employee, a colleague, a distributor, etc.) review the translation for edits. The customer’s internal reviewer will track edits on the document then send it back to the translation company’s original translator for a second review. The translator will either agree or disagree with the edits and will address any disagreements with the client to explain their position and discuss the options. It is ultimately up to the customer to decide which version will end up in the final document.

Here are some tips about “review”:

  • Make sure the reviewer is fully bilingual - Use a reviewer who is truly bilingual. Taking Spanish in High School does not make a person qualified to review your translation for accuracy.

  • Make sure the reviewer is familiar with your company and industry - The reviewer needs to be familiar with standard terminology and jargon in order to provide a precise and accurate review.

AI-driven translation debuted in early 2023. Read about its early benefits and dangers, and the future of the technology within the industry, here: AI and Language Services: Will AI Translation Eliminate the Need for Human Translators?

  • Track all edits - Keep track of all changes when editing the original copy to make it easier for the translator to see the changes. This will save time and costs.

  • Writing is subjective - Make sure the reviewer is looking for errors, mistakes, accuracy of terminology and quality of meaning. Writing is subjective and so is translation. If the translation is correct, but not the same writing style as the reviewer, do not allow style changes to the wording.

  • Keep the meaning the same - If you are going to allow the reviewer to change the translation to another meaning which the employee feels is more appropriate, make sure the changes are agreed upon with the material’s original writer, the translation company and the translator.

Review, or internal review, is also an included service that is available on every translation project. There is no monetary fee for this process, the only “cost” is time.

translate qualityEditing

Editing is a review process for double checking the translation and the message. The editing process starts with your document being translated by a professional linguist. If you have an ongoing relationship with your language service provider, make sure they assign the same linguist to all your translations to maintain consistency of voice.  Once completed, the translation, as well as the source document, are sent to a second, equally qualified linguist for editing (again this linguist will be kept consistent when possible).  The editor will review the project and insert edits or clarifications into the file, then forward the project and notes back to the original translator. The original translator will then either accept the notes and edits or if they do not agree with some of the edits they will communicate with the editor and the two will work together toward the best translation. If they need further explanation, the questions will be brought to the client for clarification.

The editing process involves two translators so there is an additional fee as well as an additional amount of time needed to complete the process.  At Rapport International, we match-make our clients and linguists for a deeper understanding of materials.

Back Translation

Back Translation is the process of translating a document that has already been translated into a foreign language back to the original language - preferably by a second translator.  After the back-translation, the original and back-translated documents are compared, and points of divergence are noted. The translation is then corrected to more accurately reflect the intent of the wording in the original language.  For example, a document in English is translated into Spanish.  Then a separate translator would translate the Spanish translation back into English.  The two English documents are then compared for accuracy, consistency and meaning.

The most common areas for back translations is in drug development to document quality translation for FDA review. Documents include medical forms, informed consent forms, research study protocols, etc.  Translation of medical documents requires very high accuracy. Translation errors can change the meaning of important content.  In these cases, back translation can be a way to show quality.

Back translation involves two translators so there is an additional fee as well as an additional amount of time needed to complete the process, thus delaying drug approval.

quality translationWhich is Best?

Determining which quality assurance method is best is an individual decision. Sometimes more than one QA measure is needed, other times just one will be enough. When you work with a professional language service agency like Rapport International, we will recommend the best process for your company, industry and materials. Contact us today for a free consultation or quote.

Have questions? Contact Us 

Rapport International specializes in multilingual communications, providing language translation and interpretation services that are accurate and culturally appropriate. We use the right voice and the correct terminology to avoid liability, customize services to your needs, and deliver on time and within your budget. With our 100% satisfaction guarantee, you can trust that it’s done right. Contact us today if you would like more information or to get a free quote.

Categories: Project Planning & Management, Quality

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