Localization and Internationalization: The Differences and Some Facts

Localization and Internationalization: The Differences and Some Facts
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy


Although localization and internationalization are often referred to in similar contexts, they are different.

Business localization, or l10n, is adapting a product or the contents of a document to fit the language and culture of a targeted market. 

Internationalization also referred to as i18n, involves designing a product or document content in such a way that it can be easily localized for audiences speaking different languages and with different cultures.
The major differences between these two terms are:

1. Goal of the Process

Internationalization is following best practices when designing your product for easier localization. On the other hand, localization is a process that adapts your product to meet a certain locality’s cultural, linguist, and legal requirements.

2. Number of Users

Products that are intended to be used by multiple language speakers have to undergo the internationalization process.  Localization is done on products designed for speakers of only one language.

3. Processes Involved

The processes involved in internationalization include:

  • Data encoding, which involves the use of ASCII character encoding or Unicode
  • Hardware support 
  • For website localization, the user interface should be spacious enough to accommodate the characters in different languages.

The processes involved in localizing a product include:

  • Use of business translation services
  • Customization of keyboard usage
  • Customization of currency used 
  • Customizing for the writing direction
  • Punctuation
  • Legal requirements

Localization and Internationalization Facts

  • Both processes are done to aid globalization
  • Once your product is internationalized, it becomes easier to do localization multiple times. 
  • Website localization goes beyond language localization as there are site elements that need to be changed

For accurate localization of your product, hire a professional firm offering translation services, content localization, and website localization services.

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Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy is the President of GMR Transcription Services, Inc an Orange County, California based company that has been providing accurate and affordable transcription services since 2004. She has enjoyed success at GMR for almost ten years now and has helped the company grow. Within two years of Beth managing GMR Transcription, it had doubled in sales and was named one of the OC Business Journal’s fastest-growing private companies. Outside of work, she likes spending time with her husband and two kids.