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What Does an Editor Do?

January 5, 2009 1 Comment »

According to the dictionary, an editor “edits or adapts a text”: he or she corrects it, improves it. This isn’t an attempt to “improve” the original, but rather an effort to improve the original translation so that it reads less like a translation and more like something originally written in the target language. The editor is striving for the “Five C’s”: leaving the text clear, correct, concise, comprehensible and consistent. To do so, the editor must correct errors in the spelling, grammar, punctuation and interpretation, as well as any other mistakes the translator may have made. The editor needs to apply the style or make it consistent (the style may be client preference, technical lingo or a localization for a specific audience). The editor must check the figures, names, headings, titles and subtitles and that the format is consistent with the original. Editors need to limit redundancy and possibly make some changes to the word order, add and remove words, etc., while trying to stick to the ideas and meanings of the original as closely as possible.

An editor may also review a text after it has been edited. This is known as proofreading and is a final read through of the edited translation to make sure it’s perfect and ready to be delivered to the client. The proofreader essentially checks that there are no typos, misprints or inconsistencies in formatting (bold, italics, etc.). This step is usually done “blind” (without comparing the translation with the original), given that it should be read as its intended audience will read it. Nevertheless, the editor/proofer is not a typical reader: he or she has been trained to spot errors that others don’t notice because their minds still “understand” the text as is.

A translator usually works alone and makes the corrections to the text himself, while a specialized translation company will have someone in charge of editing (and usually another person to proof) the texts that the first person translated. It goes without saying that “four eyes are better than two.”

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One Response to “What Does an Editor Do?”

  • Commented on May 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    In my opinion I don’t like to write letters and I could never be an editor.I find people who write letters to the editor can write good.And editors are really good because letter are boring to me and they have to read it in order to put it in the newspapers or magazine