Quality Assurance for Translators

Our founder and CEO Nadja Batdorf, who is also a translator, is thrilled to share this post with you. Happy reading!

The subject of quality Assurance (QA) is one of the top five areas of concern in the translation industry. It consists of a process with procedures that are strictly followed to assure the quality of the translation provided. For translation agencies, this process is much broader than it is for the translator, as it involves multiple professionals and several pre-translation and post-translation procedures (we will talk about QA for agencies in a future post).

I am always asked about my quality assurance procedures. This question has come from both, end clients and agencies I work for. I am sure you also got this type of question, whether during the application process or when the client is just curious to know what do you do to assure the quality of your work.

Everybody knows that there are many quality assurance tools that fit into every budget, but did you know that your quality assurance process can start from the tools you already have? This includes the Microsoft Word itself and the cat-tool you already own. And did you know that you can have a free QA software that will certainly improve and assure the quality of your translations?

Let’s look at them:

  1. Explore the Review Pane from Microsoft Word – The review tools Microsoft Word offers are there for a reason. They are there to help you and to be used in the review process of your projects. It is worth it to buy and download the language packages you work with, which include dictionaries and spelling/grammar checker. The track changes tool is also a great way to keep track of what has been edited. Microsoft Word also has a tool called “Compare”, which compares old and new documents, highlighting the differences among them. This is a perfect tool to use when the client sends the source document with a few updates. The client’s changes can be detected quickly, without the need of opening and closing two documents in your screen.
  2. The QA checker in your Cat-tool works too! – Yes, they certainly do and should be used by every translator before delivering the project to the client. It is worth the effort to take some time to explore this feature, set up your QA profile and apply the verification tool for every document. The QA tool in your favorite translation-aid software (Trados, Memoq, Memsource, CafeTrans, etc.) does a good job of detecting misspellings, translation inconsistencies, punctuation, number inconsistencies, double spaces, formatting inconsistencies and more.
  3. Free QA Software Xbench – A translator should not rely only in Microsoft Word and the Cat-tool for quality assurance. That is why there are other types of QA software out there, that can catch what the previous tools missed. Xbench is a great and free tool (version 2.9) that can help you go a little deeper into the QA process. Another resource Xbench offers is terminology management. I found a great slideshow presented by Ricardo Schiaffino, where he explains in detail the benefits of using Xbench. The presentation is here: ApSIC_Xbench_CTA5.
  4. Among the paid QA software, there is Verifika. Many colleagues in the translation industry have used it and liked it a lot.  I also decided to try it out. The interface is more intuitive than Xbench and easy to navigate. Verifika is not free, you need to pay to use it. The biggest advantage of Verifika is that you can make changes within the Verifika system and those changes will automatically be added to the document, rather than the errors simply being highlighted. Another great thing is that Verifika has plug-ins available for Trados Studio, assuring better integration with both systems. You can find some videos from Verifika to learn more about how to use this tool here.

Now that we know a few QA tools, let’s see how things work during a translation project.

Here is what I do as a translator:

I personally do my own QA using all of these tools (MS Word, SDL Trados, XBench and Verifika). After knowing which tools you will use for your QA, the next step is itemizing every step of your QA process. Below is a simple QA plan that I follow, and it can be customized according to your needs.

  1. When the translation is finished, I run spell check using the tool provided in the cat-tool platform.
  2. After that, I export the bilingual file to MS Word and run another spell check. Note that sometimes (maybe often), MS Word will catch errors the spell checker in the cat-tool did not find.
  3. The next step is: to read your own translation as if you were the client. I continue working on that exported file in MS Word and read my work. This is really important. As many of us know, machine tools are not 100% efficient. MS Word and all other spell checking tools may find false positives or miss something here and there. I also like to take a break before reading my translation (a 20-minute walk, etc.). It helps clearing my mind and catch anything I missed before.
  4. After amending or changing what I wanted, I run the MS Word spell check one more time to make sure the new added text is free of errors.
  5. Then I reimport the file back into the cat-tool. As I work mainly with Trados, I have Verifika and Xbench plugins inside of Studio platform. I run verification on both and correct or ignore (yes, these tools may find false positives) the errors found.
  6. After that, I run the QA tool offered by the cat-tool itself (in Trados is “Verify” and Memoq is “Run QA”).
  7. After correcting all errors, my file is finally ready to be delivered to the client.

It is important to keep in mind that every translator has their preferable way to work or to do their own QA. There is no right or wrong here. This post intends to be informative and functional. Additionally, this post does not intend to sell or promote any software that has been mentioned.

Do you have a different QA method for your translations? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment and share your experience with your colleagues in the industry.

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