Translation, localisation and creative translation

Translation, localisation and creative translation

Time for language versions

In this situation, an experienced translation agency or language service provider is an invaluable partner, but depending on which languages you plan to use and how many, you can also use professional freelance translators or internal translation staff. However you choose to deal with the translation, we recommend that you work with a professional and provide as much information as possible. This will save time, ensure better quality and means that you can devote more time to your own area of expertise: your product.

Translation, localisation or creative translation?

One important decision that you need to think about is what type of translation you need. In simple terms, the alternatives can be called translation, localisation and creative translation (sometimes referred to as ‘transcreation’).   


Translation involves transferring a written text from one language (the source language) to another (the target language) while retaining the meaning of the original and using correct expressions. The reader should receive the same information when reading the target text as if he or she had read the source text. As translators, it is our job to ensure that all the information is included and that the translation is grammatically correct.


Localisation means translating and also ensuring that the text is adapted both linguistically and culturally according to local conditions. This could involve adapting forms of address, register, date formats, sorting orders, addresses, images and so on.

Creative translation 

Creative translation is normally used for advertising texts or more creatively written texts that benefit from a translation that interprets the original more freely. The translator should capture and transfer the sense and the message rather than recreating the text word for word.

Which type of translation is best suited to your texts? Do you need different types of translation for different areas of your website? You can discuss this with your translator or your translation agency contact.


Sharing as much information as possible is a simple way of ensuring that the translator is in the best position to produce a good translation. Do you want translation, localisation or creative translation? Share any company-specific terminology, and send previously translated materials that you are satisfied with. Language – and hence also translation – is dynamic. There are therefore many possible ‘right’ versions, but only one that you as a company will prefer. You will get a better translation if you can give us information about what you want, and if we work together with you on a long-term basis we will soon come to learn what you prefer. Why not summarise your preferences in a style guide that you can also use internally?

Important information for the translator

You should provide the following information, as it will affect the translator’s work:

  • Editable format
    Ensure that you send text materials in a format that the translator can easily edit and that you can then transfer back to your website system. Depending on the technical solution you have chosen for your website, there will be various options. You can discuss these with your translation contact.
  • Any length restrictions (buttons, boxes, etc.)
    The translator needs to know if there are any length restrictions for the text, for example on buttons on in text boxes. The translated text may well be longer, so discuss this with your translation contact.
  • Reference materials
    Reference materials are always extremely useful to the translator, but only if you are happy with them. Good reference materials might include materials that provide the translator with information about the terminology you prefer, examples of the forms of address you want to use and the style you normally use as a company. Other useful materials include additional information about your company and your products.
  • Images
    It can be very important for the translator to have access to images. Translating a text without being able to see the context in which it is intended to work can be very difficult.
  • Text in images
    Try to avoid text that needs to be translated in image files, as translating such text is always more time-consuming than if the text is placed alongside the images. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but in these cases it is important that you tell the translator and provide the image materials.
  • Validation
    Within the translation industry, we often use what is known as validation. This involves a customer-specific proof of the translation. The aim of this is that you as the customer can ensure that the text is how you want it. If the translation has been prepared in accordance with our tips above, the validation proof should only relate to new terms or amending the stylistic level for a new product or market. Plan time for validation, and notify your translation contact that you want to carry out validation.

You can read more on this subject in our post Three important pieces of advice: As a customer, how can I help to ensure that the translation is as good as possible? and Translating a website – some practical advice.

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