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Localization as in Language Targeting


Localization is used for targeting a specific audience using a specific or specialized language. It is not used to locate someone or something from the Global Positioning System (GPS).

What is localization?

Localization is often confused with translation, but these terms mean two different things. Localization is the process of adapting a product or content to a specific location or market, according to the Globalization and Localization Association, a nonprofit organization that serves and supports the language services and technologies industry. If we compare Translation with Localization:

  • Translation is the transfer of text from one language (the source) to another (the target). The goal is to accurately reflect the meaning and purpose of the original.

  • Localization is the process of adapting translations to the culture of a target market so that they look and feel as native as possible.

Although translation is one aspect of localization, localization involves adapting the translation to the culture of a target market so that they look and feel as native as possible which includes the knowledge and understanding of the audience's cultural norms and nuances.

More than before clients from various countries are now demanding a personalized experience to reach their customers. That’s where localization comes in. The localization process adapts content, products, or services to the culture and language of customers in a target market.

When we find the term localization on the Internet, the first question that comes to mind is “Are they talking about geographic localization or marketing localization?” In fact, the term localization has been borrowed from the geolocation for their specific use, to describe the position of an object to a specific area, such as a street, city, state/province, or coordinates.

The marketing industry also used the term localization to adapt branding, products, and services to specific markets by changing the advertisements, messages, and pictures to appeal to its customers.

When the Language Service industry started to be involved with globalization, more content was localized to specific target audiences. In short, the term localization was coined to exemplify content adaptation to target audiences according to their language, social and cultural values, and level of knowledge.

Language localization goes beyond the translation of text. It includes modifying a range of aspects to local preferences, expectations, and conventions: User Interface (UI) elements, images, date and time formats, currency, payment methods, promotional campaigns, customer support, etc.

The content of a product or service can be localized for specific local consumer/client by choosing the right expression or words that fit the target audience. For example, if your product or service is targeting an English audience from the United States (as opposed to Australia, Canada, India, United Kingdom, or New Zealand), well-known expressions in the field would be used to trigger interest or better understanding of the product or service to make it more appealing.

The same goes for the content of a product or a service targeted to a French audience from Europe (as opposed to Africa, Canada, Indian Ocean, Middle East, or South Pacific islands). When an English-written message is translated in various forms of French, depending on where that message is to be sent, the message would have different expressions when delivered to an audience in France as opposed to an audience in Canada.

The localization process involves writing, translation and editing with the use of Translation Memory Systems (TMS):

  • Where the original source content is stored into a Translation Memory (TM) to be translated into a target language;

  • The content is assigned to be translated: the content is translated manually or with a Machine Translation (MT) into the target language while being stored into the TM;

  • The content is then localized (in comparative editing) by an editor who corrects each sentence to match the target audience’s cultural preferences; Note: The Editor has experience in adapting the content by using local expressions of the target audience while taking into consideration its cultural and social values, and level of knowledge in the subject matter.

  • Finally, the content is memorized and tracked into the TMS that will be used in future MTs.

When the content is localized, graphics, designs, and images as well as its captions may need to be changed to suit the target audience. Also, to adapt to the cultural knowledge of the target audience currencies, units of measurement, date and hour format, references to regulations and legislation, etc. may need to be modified.

In short, localization provides a look and feel expected by the target audience which includes an understanding of the audience's cultural norms and nuances.

The process for localization involves a team effort:

  • After receiving the localization translation or editing mandate to meet a specific target audience’s expectation, the Senior Editor will assign the text to be reviewed to an Editor with specific instructions.

  • The text can also be sent in already translated two (2) languages (e.g., English, and French) on a localization tools (i.e. manually translated or using a translation memory);

  • The Editor will compare translated text and adapt it to the target audience by performing research on the target audience; this entails doing research on websites that the target audience usually visits, noting habitual vocabulary that those websites will use and its research;

  • The Editor will send or submit the edited text to the Senior Editor who will go through the assigned work and ensure completeness and accuracy with the following tasks:

    • Verification of style guide and glossary compliance;

    • Verification of grammar and spell check;

    • Verification of final Quality Assurance (QA).

  • The Senior Editor will then send the completed text to the end client with the research, questions or comments provided by the Editor;

  • Once the client is satisfied by the resulting text, a confirmation email will be sent so that the Senior Editor can send an invoice;

  • The localization mandate is documented (manually or on the localization tool) along with the translated text and the research for future reference in the Translation Memory System (TMS).

  • Before a book or a magazine gets published, it goes through various stages of quality control:

  • The first review is done by the Senior Editor for refining the content based on specific criteria such as theme compliance, writing angle for target audience and word count to respect the space limitations. Authors are often asked to rewrite certain sections. Then, the content goes through a series of formal reviews with editors, proofreaders, and subject matter experts for accuracy of content, grammatical issues, structure, and tone. Depending on the type of subject matter, additional reviews may be required for legal compliance for copyright or dependencies on other already-published material.

  • The same approach is applied for other types of content such as web sites, blog posts, newsletters, tweets, or formal reports that require quality control before the content gets published on released online.

  • During linguistic localization, some of the editing principles described above are applied, while emphasizing on the writing angle, style, and tone to match the targeted audiences’ cultural background (language, social values). For example, when the content is written for a European audience, it may need to be adjusted for a Canadian or an American audience, when the subject matter requires additional information, different examples relating to the audience.

  • Also, all facts are verified to cater to the target audience such as:

    • Modifying spoken dialogues and instructions, characters, manuals, marketing assets such as graphics and design to properly display translated text;

    • Modifying website and User Interface (UI) elements, splash screens and in-app tooltips for better comprehension;

    • Changing language expressions to suit local cultural preferences;

    • Converting to local currencies and units of measurement;

    • Using proper formatting for elements like dates, addresses and phone numbers;

    • Addressing local regulations and legal requirements.

To choose the appropriate language localization service provider the following questions must be answered: What is the background knowledge of the target audience including cultural attitudes and beliefs, local expressions in the specialized field of expertise, cultural references that the target audience can identify with?

Competition can be fierce amongst local businesses. To gain trust and increase brand loyalty, localizing your product can help your business getting a competitive edge especially if you want a strong commitment to your customers with marketing materials or user guides to reach a firm foothold in the global market and reach customer satisfaction. This will help your business create a huge potential to increase your revenue and ensure a sizable localization ROI (return on investment) that will impress all the stakeholders in your company.

At Editech Documentation, we specialize in localization for target audiences for the Canadian market either in English or in French. We can tailor to Canadian English, Canadian French or French from Quebec depending on the subject matter. The client needs to specify which of those two are required for the localization project. With more than 20 years of experience in the editing field for Canadian English and Canadian French, Editech Documentation can meet your needs in various technical fields. To get a quote, send in your request with a sample of the text you need to



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