Difference Between Translation and Localisation

Last Updated On: September 6, 2023

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Translation and Localization

Translation is one aspect only of localisation and companies who wish to diversify into overseas markets have two choices which are translation & localisation. The translation, adapts a message while localisation is creating an appropriate experience. The translation is typically the beginning of localisation.

Everything has to be adapted to suit the preferences of the target market which means currency and unit conversion, altering date formats, adapting imagery, conforming to laws and regulations, and using the country-specific technological standards.

  • An example of localisation: Sometimes localization is defined traditionally as “adaptation” by translators.
  • An example of American English: 2 Ibs of strawberries are $20 and will be delivered on 04/05/2022.



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    Here is the Spanish translation without any adapting: 

    Dos libras de fresas cuestan $20 y se le entregarán el 04/05/2022.

    This wouldn’t suit a Mexican in Mexico because metric units are used for weights, not the imperial units as found in the United States. Also the currency is Mexico is the peso not the US dollar. The Mexican date format is laid out as the day then month then year, not month then day then year like the United States.

    The following Spanish translation will suit the Mexican market:

    Un kilo de fresas cuestan 219 MXN y se le entregarán el 05.04.2022.

    However, there are many other countries that speak Spanish for which this translation may not be suitable. If the sentence is translated for any more Spanish speaking market, any local differences will need to be incorporated into the translation. For example, for Spain, you would need to put the price in Euros. 

    Translation translates a text, but localisation transforms the complete text from a language into a second language. There are virtually no limits to localisation and it goes well beyond translation.

    Mainly applies to localisation

    These are symbolic meanings from videos, images, emojis, colours, etc. There are also numeric differences such as date & time formats, currency and units of measurement.

    Applying both localisation and translation 

    Language specifics such as the use of idioms, dialects, tone, slang etc,

    A text’s length, as a translation from English into another language could be at least twice the length. So different wording may be needed if the translation has to fit into the text area in a design as well as putting across the precise message. This is to do with translation.

    The right left writing which is in use by some Semitic languages such as Hebrew and Arabic may need to be incorporated into a website directed at these language speakers. This is both localisation and translation.

    The fascinating feature of localisation is when it is done well it is not even noticeable. Localisation makes the reader feel that the specific website, or a mobile app, was designed only for them.

    When Localisation Is Critical


    By mid 2022, it is expected that 1 in 4 U.S. buyers will have bought something from a retailer in a foreign country. Increasingly, e-commerce offers a global opportunity. However, only 60 percent of people will only purchase products that are advertised in their own native language. Therefore businesses marketing their product need to localise the product descriptions, size charts, adverts and promotions, and providing the customers with their preferred payment choices and currency, just to name a few. Overall, good localisation makes certain that an e-commerce website is not just translated but adapted to the targeted markets.

    In summary, translation is only one feature of localisation. If translation encompasses cultural and linguistic features localization will also include technical and visual solutions. It ensures the content functions fully in different languages, to ensure that your brand experiences resonate with your global customers. 

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