What is MTPE? Understanding Machine Translation Post-Editing

What is MTPE? Understanding Machine Translation Post-Editing

Otilia Munteanu


Translation technology

Machine translation tools have become invaluable for handling quick translations in various scenarios, from casual conversations to light tasks. However, when it comes to translations that require accuracy and reliability, there's a solution that combines the efficiency of machine translation with the precision of human expertise. It is known as MTPE. In this blog, we'll provide a comprehensive understanding of Machine Translation Post Editing Services, highlighting its significance, the role of human input in the process, and the importance of quality assessment measures. 

MTPE Meaning

MTPE, which stands for machine translation post-editing, is a service that involves reviewing and editing machine-generated translations by professional translators. It is used in translation and localization to deliver fast, cost-effective, and accurate translations by combining machine efficiency with human expertise. 

Advantages of Machine Translation Post-Editing

  • Cost-Effectiveness: MT Post Editing reduces costs by using machine translations as a first step, decreasing the time and effort needed for human post-editing.
  • Time Savings: Speeds up the translation process, offering faster turnaround times compared to traditional translation methods.
  • Quality Improvement: Combines machine translation with human expertise to enhance translation quality by correcting errors and adjusting tone, style, and context.
  • Flexibility: Allows adjustment of the post-editing level based on the translation's purpose, enabling a range from rough drafts to polished, publishable content.
  • Scalability: Facilitates the handling of large-scale translation projects more efficiently than manual translation processes.
  • Accessibility: Increases the feasibility of translating content into multiple languages, making information more accessible to a global audience.

Understanding the Workflow of MTPE

MTPE involves a series of distinct phases that collectively contribute to producing precise translations:

Phase 1: Preparing the Source Text for Translation

The initial step is to prepare the text properly. This includes ensuring the document is in an editable format, organizing the text layout, and cleaning up any ambiguities or inconsistencies that might confuse the translation algorithm. 

Phase 2:  Machine Translation

Once the source text is prepared, it is integrated into the machine translation tool. This software then automatically translates the text from the source language into the target language. Translation companies typically incorporate translation memory (TM) in machine translation to enhance translation consistency.

Phase 3: Post-Editing 

This phase involves human translators who review and refine the machine-generated translation. Post-editing aims to correct any errors or inconsistencies made during the automated process to produce an accurate and contextually suitable result. There are two types of post-editing:

  • Light Post-Editing involves making minimal adjustments to ensure that the machine-translated text is understandable, grammatically correct, and retains its original meaning. It is suitable for internal documents or content intended for quick understanding.
  • Full Post-Editing includes high-quality translations, resembling human translation work. This process not only addresses errors but also refines style, tone, and consistency to meet publication standards. It also ensures the use of correct terminology and adjusting syntax to align with the target language. While it requires more time and investment, it is crucial for customer-facing materials, legal documents, and other content where accuracy and readability are needed. 

Phase 4: Quality Assurance

Following post-editing, the text undergoes a quality assurance (QA) process. This step may include using additional tools and checks to verify that the translation fulfills all specified requirements.

Human vs. Machine: The Role of Post-Editors in MTPE

The integration of Machine Translation into our daily lives has changed the way we communicate, offering real-time and cost-free translation solutions. However, relying solely on MT can be limiting, especially for more than simple, personal tasks. While MT performs well in speed and efficiency, it cannot grasp context, cultural nuances, and the finer points of language. This gap underscores the indispensable role of post-editors in this service.

Post-editors are the human component in this solution, tasked with refining the raw output of machine translation to meet the high-quality standards of human translation. They contribute a unique level of comprehension, intuition, and flexibility to the translation process. Their efforts ensure that translations flow naturally for native speakers by carefully considering context, terminology, grammar, and syntax. Beyond immediate improvements to individual translations, post-editors play a significant role in the continuous improvement of machine translation models. Through their corrections and feedback, they help refine these models, contributing to the development of more sophisticated and accurate automatic translations over time.

The quality of machine-generated translations can vary significantly without human intervention, ranging from minor inaccuracies to severe misunderstandings, particularly in sensitive contexts such as medicine or law. Therefore, the symbiotic relationship between humans and machines in MTPE translation is the optimal solution for fulfilling the demands of today's dynamic environment.


Quality Assurance in Machine Translation Post Editing

Quality Assurance (QA) in MTPE is a process designed to ensure that translations produced through machine translation systems meet predefined quality standards before being delivered to the client. This process involves a series of checks and balances, aimed at identifying and correcting errors, inconsistencies, and any areas where the machine translation may have failed to capture the nuance or intended meaning of the original text.  Quality assurance for Machine Translation Post-Editing Services is established by ISO 18587:2017This standard aims to boost productivity, resource allocation, and competitiveness in the growing machine translation market. Thus, it offers guidance to Translation Service Providers involved in MTPE, focusing on workflow optimization, accuracy, and competency. It emphasizes clarity through defined roles, post-editor skills, structured processes, quality checks, and documentation.

The QA process typically includes several key components:

  1. Automated Quality Checks: Utilizing software tools to detect common errors such as spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting inconsistencies. 
  2. Human Post-Editing: Skilled linguists refine and improve machine-translated content for natural readability and cultural appropriateness.
  3. Review Against Quality Metrics: Translations are evaluated using metrics like TAUS DQF or LISA QA Model for accuracy and fluency.
  4. Feedback Loops: Post-editors collect and analyze data on errors and corrections to improve machine translation models.
  5. Client Feedback Integration: Incorporated client feedback helps to tailor future projects and meet specific requirements.

MTPE represents a forward-looking method that combines the rapid capabilities of machine translation with the nuanced understanding of human editors. This approach significantly reduces costs and turnaround times while ensuring translations are scalable and adaptable to various needs. The important role played by post-editors, along with the comprehensive quality assurance process ensures that MT Post Editing delivers translations to high standards, making it a key solution for international communication.


Our translations are performed by translators carefully selected to align with the subject matter and content of your project. They meet and exceed international quality standards. Upon request, we will provide you with a certificate attesting to the precision of our translations