In our domestic language service market, there are mainly two kinds of companies: localization company and translation company. Both of them involve “translation” business, as if there is no huge difference. Many people confuse localization company with translation company. As a matter of fact, they two are with essential differences.

1. Differences in the nature of business

Through both companies are related to translation business, localization company is technology-driven and belongs to technology company. They conduct translation activities on the basis of technology. On the other side, translation companies are labor-driven, with little technology in their business. All translation is finished by handwork.

2. Differences in the scope of business

For localization company, translation is only one part of localization / globalization, as well as a step in the whole procedure. Besides translation, localization companies also prepare files and make necessary transition, make pre-translation treatment and after-translation treatment, software test, DTP, etc. As a result, the income of translation business is only one part of its total turnover; the proportion may vary for different companies.

While, for the translation company, translation is almost its whole business. Its total turnover is thoroughly come from translation. Moreover, almost every translation company can provide written translation and oral interpretation service; while localization companies always provide only written translation.

3. Differences in the source of client

The clients of localization companies are mostly abroad client, mainly in IT, medicine, and telecom etc High tech field. While the clients of translation company are always domestic.

4. Differences in the management of project

Although both localization company and translation company have project manager, they have different job responsibilities and work scopes. The project manager in localization companies is in charge of the distribution of job, to make sure the project is going on properly. They do not take part in the specific translation.

While the project manager in translation company always do translation, proofreading as well as project management. Anyway, this does not mean PM in localization companies have less job to do. On the contrary, they always burden more pressure due to the various target languages, complex style guides and urgent timeline.

5. Difference in working language

Because most clients and vendor are from abroad, people in localization companies use English as a working language: internal communication, email, working files, and communication with clients and vendor. While people in translation companies always use Chinese in their work. Only some specific projects need to use English or other language.

6. Difference in target language

Even through both localization company and translation company claim that they can do multi-language translation, they have different implications. For localization company, multi-language indicates target language, i.e. from one source language to multiple target languages.

This is one to multi relation. While in translation company, multi-language indicates source language, namely from different source language to one target language – Chinese. This is basically one to one relation. Moreover, the translators in localization company are always target language native speakers. While the translators in translation company are mostly Chinese, because their target language are always Chinese.


All of the above are the differences of these two kinds of companies in general. As to specific company, the situation may be more complicated and the differences may not very clear. Some translation companies also wish to learn from localization companies, their experience and manage approach, etc. in order to make transformation.

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