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What is TEP (Translation, Editing, Proofreading) and Where it Can Be Used

Author: Andreea Balaoiu

What is TEP (Translation, Editing, Proofreading) and Where it Can Be Used

In his paper The art of translation and the art of editing, Krzysztof Fordoński defines Translation as “an art of making choices – of the right words, phrases, or metaphors.” (Komunikacja specjalistyczna magazine article, 2014).

But when professionals outside the Translation Industry ask ‘what is Translation and why they should even consider it?’ the usual answer highlights the concept of TEP, the acronym for the Translation-Editing-Proofreading flow, denominating a standardized process guaranteed to ensure the highest possible quality of human translation.

In this article we will delve deeper into the concept of TEP localization, exploring its key features and fields of application, as well as why it is a must in any quality-oriented localization project.

The Structure of TEP

While the TEP translation process may slightly vary from project to project, depending on the content that the linguistic team is working on, the core stages are fixed and consistent, each stage involving different linguists with little to no direct communication with one another. This results in the exclusion of any form of bias, with three different renditions of the source-to-target content, thoroughly processed and revised at each step to ensure maximum accuracy and localization Quality.

Translation Stage

Conventional or Human Translation can be defined as the literal word-for-word transformation of a source text into a target language, the first stepping stone on any content’s road towards a new audience, as it provides this new audience with the ability to decipher and understand the source text in their native language.

Translation employs linguistic Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), native speakers of the target language with extensive previous experience in the translation topic they are tackling. Conventional Translation uses Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) tools, Glossaries, and Translation Memories (TMs), which the SMEs harness to translate and culturally align a source and target text, with an inherent focus on correct terminology, grammar, accurate wording, consistency, country-specific language conventions, and style, as well as other project-specific or client and market-specific instructions, guidelines, or regulatory requirements.

Editing Stage

To quote the English novelist Terry Pratchett, “the first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” To be able to accurately tell the story to the wider world, the first draft needs to undergo a thorough fine-tuning.

As a rule of thumb when dealing with any form of written communication, the editing stage is crucial for refining a translated text in terms of linguistic accuracy, cultural sensitivity, and meeting specific requirements mandated by clients or shareholders. And just like the linguist involved in the translation stage, the editor must be a native speaker of the target language and have previous experience in the subject field to which the localized text pertains.

There are several important aspects considered during the editing stage, relating to:

  • Structure
  • Content
  • Style or Voice
  • Overall text flow

With the dawn of AI, Machine Translation, and Automated spell-checkers, one might think the role of an editor is becoming obsolete, however, it is beyond question that only a thorough editor can ensure structural precision and content clarity for the reader who may or may not be acquainted with the cultural or idiosyncratic background of a certain text to begin with. Thus, if a creative translator is a ‘weaver of meaning’ across languages, the role of an editor is to give structure and clarity to that meaning, for the wider audience.

Another noteworthy prerogative of an editor is ensuring content flow and stylistic adaptation between the source and target. Whereas in the initial TEP process stage the translator renders the tone of the source text to the best of their abilities, it is only in the editing and subsequent proofreading stages that this style is rounded out and defined.

Proofreading Stage

Proofreading can be described as the final review stage, where the focus is on the terminology, message, and structure of the whole text, enhancing the overall Quality of the Localization project.

A recent Grammarly blog post defines proofreading as stemming from the traditional field of publishing before digital publishing even gained popularity. Publishers would print text copies (called “proofs”), upon which the proofreader would perform a final review to detect and correct any grammar or formatting inconsistencies.

Proofreading is instrumental to ensuring TEP localization Quality, entailing an in-depth review to find any lingering errors before the translation project is successfully submitted.

Key applications of the TEP localization process

Let’s narrow down why and where the TEP Localization process is best employed.

Utilizing the TEP localization workflow properly guarantees superior quality translation output to end clients, meeting specific requirements, and avoiding blatant mistakes and the offending of any cultural sensitivities. It is of the utmost importance to thoroughly render source texts accurately into target languages, both in terms of structure, content, style, or brand voice and overall text flow, in order to mitigate potential linguistic and formatting mishaps.

In terms of the main fields of application of the TEP Localization process, Medical, Legal and Marketing are among the most challenging in terms of demands and requirements for top-quality linguistic output.

To accurately render medical or legal exact texts, linguistic SMEs need to excel beyond the basics. A thorough understanding of relevant terminology, precision in their use of vocabulary, and a good grasp of technical concepts is of maximum importance when handling complex clinical trial documents, medical product, or process descriptions upon which patients’ lives can heavily depend.

At the same time, Legal, Technical, or Marketing translation are also fraught with linguistic complexity, specific jargon, or creative lingo, of which translators, editors, and proofreaders need to present thorough comprehension and an ability to adapt to and research.

This ‘savoir-faire’ of TEP SMEs is mandatory when executing demanding localization tasks, as the stakes can be very high when tackling brand-specific documentation or high-profile case files, on which the image of companies and individuals depends.


Following every stage of the TEP process allows a Language Service Provider to achieve the highest quality standard in translation and ensures full compliance with the translation industry standard, ISO 17100:2015.

The three main stages of the TEP process, Translation, Editing, and Proofreading discussed in this article are part of a standard approach to top-quality translations by LSPs, which may also have additional linguistic or in-country review processes focusing on the further enhancement of Translation Quality.

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