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5 Types of Translation Services: The Main Differences

5 Types of Translation ServicesThere are many different types of translation services, from software localization to website globalization to technical instruction translations. Each one is unique and should follow a translation process that’s specific to that type of content. Partnering with a translation company who can work with you to accommodate your specific needs is crucial in succeeding with your translation and localization projects. A professional translation company can help you build assets such as a glossary and a translation memory (TM) in order to produce consistent content, reuse content and reduce costs. Having project kick-off meetings and providing your vendor with as much information about your business and products / services as possible, such as a style guide, product / service and industry terminology and training, will help ensure that your project will be successful. In this blog post, we’ll cover five types of translation services at a very high level.

#1 Software Localization

Software localization involves not only the obvious user interface, but also any online help files and error and system messages.


  • Localization (aka L10n) – Localization involves not just translation, but also adapting the content for the culture.
  • Internationalization assessment (aka i18n) – This is the process of determining whether the software is able to handle multiple languages. This should be done well before translation begins so that you can fix any issues with the software first.
  • Localization testing – Localized software should always be tested since there are many linguistic, cosmetic and functional issues that could be introduced. Many of these issues come up because translators are translating without context. Even if your software is already localized, you can always use our multilingual testing center to test it.

#2 Technical Translations

Technical translations include any type of technical content such as documentation, online help, instruction and training materials, videos and technical marketing materials for any type of technical industry such as engineering, science or manufacturing.


  • Most technical translations require desktop publishing (DTP), which involves formatting the content to make it look correct.
  • Graphics and screenshots may need to be edited for the foreign language versions.
  • There are many things you should do to make sure the content is ready for translation, which will help reduce costs and project time. One of those things is to use a content management system to manage your content.
  • The content could be delivered in multiple ways such as a PDF, eBook, video or online help.
  • It’s important to have knowledgeable translators for the industry, establish standard terminology and provide training for the translators.
  • If you have a lot of technical translations, a good translation management system will reduce the amount of administrative overhead by automating project tasks.
  • Because of the nature of technical translations, it’s important that a translation company follows a rigorous quality control process. If a translation company has ISO quality certifications 9001:2015 and ISO 17100:2015, they follow a solid quality control process.

#3 Medical Translations

Medical translations include customer-facing content such as software, packaging, labels, instructions, etc. and product-related content for regulators such as clinical trial paperwork, quality management certifications and research documents.


  • It’s critical to have knowledgeable, experienced, in-country translators given the nature of medical translations.
  • Every country has their own medical translation requirements. It can be tricky to navigate the requirements so you definitely want a translation company that specializes in medical translations.
  • ISO 13485:2016 is a standard that outlines specific quality management system requirements for businesses that provide medical devices. Few translation companies have this certification, so if they do, it shows their dedication to the medical industry. Of course, they should also have the general quality certifications ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 17100:2015.

#4 Website Translations

Website translations include website copy and also think about the content that’s posted on your website such as documents, videos, etc.


  • Thoughtfully consider what languages and locales you want to translate your website copy into. It may not be necessary to localize the entire website if certain areas won’t apply to the local audience.
  • If you frequently update your website copy and don’t have resources to manage it, you’ll want to use website translation management systems that can assist, simplify and automate this process as much as possible.

#5 Multimedia Localization

Multimedia content includes videos, photographs and more. Many companies are now creating videos and using multimedia to reach their audience.


  • Videos and multimedia should be localized to fit the culture and customers of the locale or you may risk not connecting with or even offending your intended audience.
  • There are many options for localization, including dubbing, where professional voice over specialists create localized versions, and subtitling, where the localized content is displayed on the screen.


Of course, there are more translation types such as literary, legal, financial, etc. and there are all different kinds of processes and technologies that can work for the different types of translation projects. What makes sense for one translation type might not work for another.

Contact us today and we can help you determine the best solution for your localization needs. I also invite you connect with us on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook.

Shmuel Duan

For many years I was on the clients’ side, gaining years of experience in the world of software development. Back then localization wasn’t always on my mind... Here at Net-Translators, as the Director of Technology, I discovered the world of localization and found out that this is one of the most interesting phases in the life of a product! With the knowledge of developing software and websites I’m eager to find ways to improve the process and support our clients worldwide by better understanding their needs, making their process smoother, more efficient and finding the best ways to deliver. Being our clients’ partners, I see the added value in helping them, even before we start the localization process, advising them which tools/systems to work with, the best practices and how to make their product "localization friendly". Together with a great team that loves the challenge our clients bring, we enjoy the process of finding the best solutions for each one, tracking emerging technologies and trends, industry standards, and searching for better ways to localize it. In this blog I’ll share tips and tricks on how to do it better! Stay tuned ;-)


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