What does TEP stand for in terms of translation? Translation, Editing and Proofreading. But what exactly does this mean for your latest multilingual project?

In short, it’s the key to making sure your project has the highest quality outcome. This article will go into greater detail regarding the TEP process and why it’s regarded by the language industry as the best practice for ensuring quality translations.


  • What’s involved in TEP and how does it work?
  • Why use a three-step process instead of a one-step?
  • Is TEP better than only translation if you are a publisher?
  • Is TEP better if you want to translate your marketing materials?
  • What’s included in the “editing” of TEP vs. copywriting editing?
  • Why get translation, editing and proofreading together?

What’s involved in TEP and how does it work?The three components involved in TEP – Translation, Editing and Proofreading – combine to create translations which can be guaranteed in terms of quality:Translation – different types for different projectsThis is almost certainly what you’ll be thinking about when you’re in the market for translation services. Your translator will use all of their skills and resources, including Translation Memories, any branding or style guides you provide and more to accurately and fluently translate your document.

There are several different types or levels of translation, including:

  • Direct translation – your text is translated into your target language sticking closely to the wording of the original.
  • Localisation – this will involve localising your content to take into account the cultural norms, associations and preferences of your target market. Some deviation from the original text will be required.
  • Transcreation – often the best choice for marketing projects you want to have the most impact, transcreation allows your translator to have the freedom to use their creative talents to write a piece which conveys the same message as the original text without tying their hands by requiring them to stay close to the original wording.

But overall, no matter which of the above-mentioned levels of translation you need, this is where the bulk of work will take place on your project.Editing – a critical part of the processThe editor receives the project next. The editor is always a different professional; another native speaker of the target language. They’re in charge of making sure that:

1.The project meets your specifications
2.If a project has required multiple translators – in order to be completed in a short deadline, for example – that the style and terminology stay consistent throughout
3.If they have any questions about why the translator has translated a word or phrase in a particular way, they will discuss it with the translator
4.That the final document and source document are the same in terms of meaningProofreading – why is it important?The proofreading step adds a check that the text is entirely legible and that it has no grammatical, formatting or other errors. Projects which require any design work as part of their completion will require additional proofreading to make sure they’re entirely free from other formatting or design errors which make the final piece difficult to read.Why use a three-step process instead of a one-step?The reason for this is obvious to anyone who understands the dangers of going without proper quality control in any process. Translation agencies who offer a one-step process will almost always be cheaper than a real agency, but the accuracy of the final text they produce cannot be relied upon.

This one-step simplified version of the translation process is sometimes extended to two steps. These can be either TE (Translation and Editing, which reintroduces some measure of quality control) or TP (Translation and Proofreading, which does include checking of the final text but, critically, not any comparison of it with the original document – this often leads to errors). It’s important to realise that neither of these provides the same level of Quality Assurance as the full TEP process.

The three-stage process ensures that a final text is both fluent and grammatically correct within itself and accurate in terms of how it relates to the meaning and message of the original document.

Is TEP better than only translation if you are a publisher?

With the possible exclusion of internal company memos or other very small projects with minor scopes, the full TEP process is always the way to proceed. Though it can be tempting to save cash by going with a translation-only process, you’re almost certainly setting yourself for trouble later on.

In the same way that you wouldn’t expect a novelist to send you the first draft of their work and it be instantly ready for publishing, a document which hasn’t been through the editing and proofreading process cannot be guaranteed in terms of quality. This metaphor isn’t precisely accurate – in most cases, the first translation will require only a small number of changes by editors and proofreaders – but skipping these steps is unlikely to produce a finished work that an author would be happy to put their name to.

Is TEP better if you want to translate your marketing materials?

The full TEP process is an absolute must when you want to translate your marketing materials. Just like translators involved in all sorts of creative projects, linguists working with marketing materials need to have more freedom so that they can convey the same message to a multilingual and multicultural audience.

But this freedom means that they also need to have their work properly checked by another professional with a deep knowledge of the target market. The precise conveyed meaning and impact of the translated piece can then be judged, discussed and edited if required.What’s included in the “editing” of TEP vs. copywriting editing?In many ways the “editing” part of the TEP process is similar to the editing that copywriting requires:

The grammar and phrasing used will be considered and altered if necessary and the project will be compared against the client brief.

Where the translation editing process differs is that it also includes comparison with the original document to ensure that the final translated text sends the same message to a reader that the original would.

Employing the services of a specialist in whatever particular field or industry the document is intended for is highly recommended here. That’s because they’ll be fully conversant with the correct terminology used in the industry in their part of the world, for example.

Why get Translation, Editing and Proofreading together?

In many ways, TEP should be considered as the default components of the process of translating a document. Any companies which offer translation-only, or TE or TP services should really only be used for low priority projects or for those texts where budget is more important than the accuracy or quality of the final results.

This is not to say that a translator working on their own cannot achieve great things. But without the extra pairs of eyes and additional pools of knowledge that an editor and proofreader bring to a project, you risk both major and minor errors creeping in.

If you’re still not clear about the TEP process and why it’s important, why not post a question in the comments section below?