Translation vs. Localization: Fast Facts

September 12, 2014

Translation SourceThanks to the Internet, our world is now connected more than ever before. It’s not only information and ideas that are being shared from all corners of the globe, but products and services as well.

With seventy percent of all internet users surfing the net in a language other than English, translation and localization of your company or product is the best way to make the most of today’s global marketplace.

To help you determine whether translation or localization will best meet your needs, we’ve compiled a list of facts about each of these services that we offer.


  • Localized content is not translated directly but instead adapted to express a message that has a similar meaning in the target culture.
  • Localization considers underlying factors such as cultural values, societal trends, common reactions to a certain topic, and the possible connotations of a given term.
  • Localization goes beyond the text to include details such as time and date format, graphics, visual elements, and even colors.
  • Localization is often used to target specific demographics of a foreign language audience.
  • Localization is necessary for content that aims to make an emotional connection, foster a relationship with the audience, or establish a brand’s identity in a new market.
  • Localization is commonly used for marketing material, websites, product descriptions, slogans, social media campaigns, and gaming.
  • The gaming industry frequently uses not only linguistic and cultural localization but also hardware and software localization, legal localization, and music and image localization.
  • Depending on the scope of a project, localization may be billed per word, hourly, or as a flat fee.
  • Localization requires recognizing local sensitivities. Even a professional translator with a deep understanding of the local culture may not have the skills needed for the effective localization of certain information such as product labels or safety instructions. Look for a language service provider that works with local translators and consultants who know the target culture and market.


  • Translation expresses meaning across languages.
  • Translation usually deals only with linguistic content, either written or spoken words.
  • Translation requires expert knowledge of the two languages involved as well as specialized training in the processes and terminology of a specific industry.
  • Translation is an effective tool for making general information available to many people: packaging and labels, signage, internal communications such as training material, memos, and official documents, may only need to be translated instead of localized.
  • Translation services are usually billed per word. Rates will vary depending on the source and target language. In addition, the length of a text may also affect the price of translation, with discounts offered for larger projects.
  • Languages often differ in structure and word order preference and the most appropriate translation for a given term will depend on the context. Professional translation services should always be used to ensure that your message is communicated accurately and effectively in the target language.
  • Look for a language service provider that offers quality control through editors and proofreaders and works with professional translators who are native to the target language.

If you would like additional information on this topic or have questions on planning and executing your next translation or multilingual initiative, contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation or call us at (800) 413-7838.

One Comment on “Translation vs. Localization: Fast Facts”

  1. every translation will require some localization. The degree to which content is localized can vary depending on what’s required.