Post-editing (human translation)

Workflow for human correction of machine translation

Human post-editing is the review and correction of machine translation output. With the rise in machine translation quality, human translation often refers to a post-editing workflow, rather than to pure human translation from scratch.

When post-editing, the human translator checks the original input and the machine translation output, and fixes errors in the output.

Post-editing started to replace pure human translation in the 2000s because it is faster and cheaper, and became the standard for many content types in the 2010s.


With light post-editing, the goal is that readers understand the idea of a text. Light post-editing provides the gist of a message. It is usually aimed at internal communications.

With full post-editing, the goal is to match human quality. Full post-editing is suitable for publishable information.


Post-editing distance is a measure of how much the human translator post-edited the machine translation.

Post-editing effort is an estimate of how much time the human translator spends post-editing a machine translation output.

Post-editing metrics are used both for a specific translation and in aggregate - at the document, project or workflow level. They can be length-normalized and given as a percentage or score.

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