Post-editing in practice

Post-editing is the process by which humans review, edit, and improve the quality and usefulness of machine translation output. From light to full post-editing, the service – and price – varies largely according to the needs of the translation buyer. Here is an insight into the process and the types of services available in the marketplace.

Text by Donald A. DePalma


Post-editing in practice

Image: © Pixsooz/

Translation buyers can choose between two levels of post-edited machine translation (PEMT): light and full. These two types differ based on the human effort required to improve the usability of machine-translated text (Figure 1). So what do they involve?

Figure 1: The journey from raw machine translation to human quality

Light post-editing converts raw MT output into understandable and usable, but not linguistically or stylistically perfect, text. An editor corrects obvious errors such as mistranslations and terminology mistakes, along with phrases or tags that shouldn’t be translated. A reader can usually determine that the text was machine-translated and touched up by a human. Language Service Providers (LSPs) tell us that a translator doing light post-editing, also called “rapid post-editing,” can produce up to 20,000 words per day versus 2,700 without MT.

Full post-editing, on ...