Good quality control in a translation is almost as important as the translation itself. Many freelance translators make the mistake of submitting their files without prior revision and quality control, which leads to their clients not being happy about their work. At Pangeanic, we place great importance on quality check procedures because we understand that a translation can never be perfect without the meticulous work of QC checkers. In fact, QC is such an important part of our philosophy that it has its own place in our workflow (a freelance translator does the translation and our in-house specialized staff runs QC checks as a separate step).
What does it mean to run QC checks in translation?
Quality control is a procedure or a set of procedures designed to guarantee that the provided service adheres to quality standards as well as the client’s specifications. A professional translator would never neglect this part of the translation project because they are aware of the traps translators can fall in when interpreting the source text or crafting the target text. To err is human and thinking your translation is perfect by the time you are done is simply unrealistic. Additionally, some clients might provide unclear source texts that can be misinterpreted at first glance. Therefore, going through the text more than once is an integral part of a successful translation project.
Defining quality control in a translation
In order to implement an effective quality control program, a company must first define the most important standards their services have to meet. For example, an important part of a QC in an automotive company would be a crash test. Car manufacturers must ensure their safety system is working correctly to protect the driver and the passengers before releasing their product. In short, quality control is the final guarantee that the manufactured product or the performed service will satisfy the client as well as protect their safety.
Quality control in a translation follows the same pattern. When doing translations about machines that will be operated by humans, we have to ensure the translation is free of any confusion that could put the operator’s life in danger. When it comes to medical translation, we must be mindful of instructions of use and safety precautions. Quality control is therefore the lifeblood of the translation because without it translation will simply not deliver its function.
What are some tips for good quality control in a translation?
A professional translation company will always have a QC program to ensure ongoing quality for their clients as well as resilience when problems arise. Here are some of our tips for an effective QC procedure:
1. Understand your client’s needs and instructions.
Every client is different and a professional translation company is expected to adapt to every client’s needs, especially when the translation project has been accepted. Has your client stressed the importance of using a specific set of terms? Has your client specified the file formats they need? Has he or she requested an NDA because confidentiality and safe data transmission is important to them? If the answer is yes, then you have to fulfill all of those requirements as a part of good quality control in a translation.
2. Revise your content at a factual level.
Go through your translation to ensure the information you provide to your client matches the information your client provided to you. Common mistakes include incorrect translations of button names (translating “ON” as “OFF” and vice versa), numerical mismatches, using inconsistent terminology when referring to the same functions and features. All of those factors can contribute to incorrect functioning of a machine due to the lack of QC checks.
3. Revise your content at a linguistic level.
Linguistic mistakes should also be corrected during QC checks as they can cloud the intended meaning or even make it impossible. As we mentioned before, the purpose of a QC is to ensure the product or service fulfills its purpose and having grammar mistakes, misspellings and a incorrect terminology can get in the way of achieving that.
4. Test your files.
Every translator has experienced some sort of format-related problems when handling translation files. Office formats can often cause problems for translators due to incompatibility issues. Sometimes hidden text in the file can cause problems when exporting the translation. If you didn’t fix the errors before submitting the files to your client, it would be a big indicator of a deficient QC system and your client will probably not be happy.
5. Print out your translation if necessary.
This step might be specially important when dealing with right-to-left languages. If your client has no knowledge of the target text and the translation is intended to be published, it might be very useful to perform desktop publishing and check the final result in physical format. Even if your translation is perfect and the product is visually appealing, leaving the design in the hands of your client might lead to problems if they have no experience with right-to-left formats. You can also discuss it with your client to see if you can add it as an additional step to the project.
6. Use QC checklists.
Professional translation companies have a set of requirements that constitute good quality control in a translation as part of their business philosophy. To keep that under control, they can create checklists that their staff is required to use to guarantee every step of the QC check is followed.
7. Provide traceability.
Never delete any files off the server and make sure every step of the translation is documented. Having this traceability for the client will make your services appear professional to your client and it will aid you to be more efficient at problem-solving. Dates, files, names and every project-related detail must be available to you instantly to solve any issues that your client might encounter.
Good quality control in a translation is not an additional step to a project. It is inherent in the translation process. Not committing to it can lead to serious consequences, which is why at Pangeanic we only provide our translations after strict QC checks to uphold highest standards of quality.