GTE Localize

What are TO, TE, and TEP in Translation?

Posted by Anne Q. on February 22, 2023.

Although clients are unfamiliar with these three acronyms, TO, TE, and TEP play a vital role in the outcome of translated content as well as the workflow of any translation and localization agency. TO, TE, and TEP refer to three basic levels of a translation project namely Translation Only, Translation and Editing, and Translation, Editing, and Proofreading respectively.

You might ask: Why are there three different levels? What exactly do they mean? And how can you choose the best level for your current files? Well, in this article we will go into details about each level and find out what level is the most suitable for your projects.

1. Translation Only – TO

As the name speaks for itself, Translation Only (or TO) only gets the involvement of one native and experienced translator in the whole process. The translator translates, localizes, or transcreates the source file into the target language using CAT tools and then self-reviews it before delivering it to clients.

What is translation only (TO)

Why choose Translation Only?

      • Low cost – If you have a tight budget, translation only might be your best suit. The rates of translation-only projects are considerably lower than those of other levels since you only pay for one linguist (and some fee for the translation agency you work with).
      • Quick turn-around time – Without editing and proofreading steps, a Translation Only project can be delivered in a short time, from within a day to a few days regarding the volume.



As only one linguist handle the whole source file, some errors might be found in the final translated outcome. It’s not because the task is handled by an unqualified translator. The reason is human makes mistakes sometimes. It’s understandable and inevitable. To resolve this problem and bring clients the best value, a reliable translation agency normally assigns Translation Only tasks for “reviewer-level” translators, i.e. senior linguists. So make sure you ask your translation agency for a highly qualified and long-experienced linguist for your translation-only project.

When should you use Translation Only?

      • Translation only is suitable for internal documents and single-use content such as internal reports, presentations, social media posts, etc.
      • When you have a tight budget, or you are in a rush for the translation, Translation Only can be an acceptable option.


2. Translation and Editing – TE

At the Translation and Editing level, your files are in the good hands of two different linguists. The first linguist renders the contents from the source language to the target language. The second linguist reads the translated file and compares it to the source file to find possible errors and makes changes regarding the following factors:

      • Wording or Language-use mistakes
      • Sentence structures
      • Inconsistencies
      • Misuse terminology

Translation and Editing process

This process involves two opinions, or the 4-eye principle so the quality of translated files is guaranteed. The cost and turn-around time are at acceptable rates. In a nutshell, this level is the most preferred option for most clients due to its balance among quality, cost, and turn-around time.

When should you use TE?

      • Translation and Editing level works best for external publications such as pitch presentations, external reports, or marketing materials with low proportions of images and visuals.
      • This option is suitable for average-budget projects.


3. Translation, Editing, and Proofreading – TEP

Like the Translation and Editing level above, the source files are first translated and edited by a native translator and another editor respectively. In the third step, a proofreader revises the file again. Unlike editors who read and compare the target file to the source file, proofreaders only read the final layout version to guarantee smoothness and visuals. It is highly recommended that the first two steps are carried out in CAT tools and the last step requires in-context review (review on the final format).

Proofreaders focus on

      • Spelling and punctuality
      • Grammar mistakes
      • Typing errors
      • Consistent language and native expression
      • Overall format/layout

Full translation process

Why choose TEP?

      • Once you receive the final documents, no changes are needed. The files are ready to publish. The content is well taken care of and the layout is adapted to the length of the target language.


Drawbacks of TEP

      • High cost – Cost will be the first factor you should take into consideration. Translation agencies charge a significantly higher fee since they have to pay three linguists for the project. But you get what you pay for. The quality of the final files outweighs the high cost.
      • Slow turn-around time – Since the process requires three linguists (not including the PM team supporting the communication), you cannot receive the files in a short time. It might take some days or weeks depending on the volume of the projects. So unless you are not in a hurry, you should consider this option.


When should you choose TEP over TE and TO?

      • TEP level can be the best choice for high-visibility documents and critical marketing materials, for example, brochures, websites, mobile apps, and so on.
      • If you are allocated a loose budget for translation projects, combined with a fairly long time frame, it is strongly recommended that you choose TEP for the best outcome.


Need a Professional Translation Partner?

GTE Localize is a professional translation & localization company. We offer comprehensive translation services in all major languages with three offices in Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Committed to quality, GTE Localize is ISO 9001:2005 certified.


Reasons to choose us:

    • We have dedicated account managers who will provide smart and fast solutions for all your needs.
    • Technology applied: Our Self-build ERP, and CAT tools will help you reduce translation costs.
    • We provide a fast completion time for your translation projects.

For more information, contact us now!