Category Archives: Localisation

What do I actually do? What do you actually do? Who does an editor or transcriber work for?

Taking a well-earned coffee break this week, my friend Jen challenged me to draw a Venn Diagram of what I actually do, for whom. I accepted the challenge.

Libroediting services venn diagram

Especially if you have a portfolio business, where you offer more than one service, can you draw out your customer base and services? How many attempts do you have to make (four for me!)? Can you see any patterns?


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What information does my localiser or localizer need?

I’ve written about setting expectations with service providers and I’ve explained what your editor needs to know here, and transcribers here – now it’s the turn of localisation services (or localization providers).

What is localisation / localization?

I have talked about what localisation is in this article, and about careers in the area here.

In brief, localisation involves turning one variant of a language into another variant of that language. For example, text written in Portugal might be localised for Brazilian Portuguese, text published in France localised into Canadian French. In my case, I work from US (or other non-UK) English into UK English.

Some quick characteristics of localisation:

  • It’s not just a question of changing spellings, although that’s obviously important – grammar and particularly punctuation can be very different in US and UK English.
  • While -z- spellings are “allowed” in the Oxford variety of English, I have to be careful not to use this style, as my clients like to see the text “looking British”, even if they’re not expert in what that means, and that means -s- spellings all round!
  • Sometimes quite complicated cultural issues need to be unpicked and changed – for example references to sports that are very common in the US, even in metaphors, often don’t translate well for British readers.
  • These cultural differences can be even more wide-ranging: for example, I have been asked to localise for “all parts of the English-speaking world” and therefore having to use pretty bland and universal terms and references.
  • Sometimes the original text has errors and I might need to alert the client to those.
  • You have to be open to using lots of different systems for this work: I might be presented with a document in Word, Excel, output from a translation tool in weird columns, or translation software.
  • You have to be aware, like translators, that there is sometimes only a small amount of space for the text – the localised text might need to conform to a particular character length or space, and that can be difficult as UK words are often longer than their US counterparts.
  • You have to be aware of what NOT to localise, e.g. the US Department of Defense would be spelled like that, as would the World Health Organization, because those are their official titles.
  • Really, you have to be experienced in the other culture and language as well as your own: I got into this because I used to work for the UK office of an American company, so was used to the differences between the languages and had written business communications in both variants.
  • Like translators, you should never localise out of your mother tongue into the other variant, unless you are truly bilingual.

Who needs localisation?

All of my localisation work comes through third-party agencies rather than directly. These will be translation or editing agencies which have clients around the world. Therefore all the advice I have given about agencies in my original article applies here, too.

Sometimes, localisation is combined with another skill such as editing or keyword insertion for SEO (search engine optimisation) purposes. Clients should expect to pay extra for combined services, as they involve the service provider concentrating on more than one service. Not everyone can offer this, either!

What does your localiser need to know in advance?

Your localization service provider will need to know in advance:

  • How big is the project (word count)?
  • Which language variant is it from / to (this means they can let you know if they don’t offer that language pair)?
  • What format is the work in (Word, Excel, a file to open in a standard translation software programme / in a web-bases proprietary or general programme)?
  • What is the topic (I once worked on a football (soccer) game’s text and spent a lot of time looking things up and asking people questions …)?
  • Is this just localisation or do you need editing services or another service like keyword insertion?
  • Are there special conditions, for example, needing to fit the text to a particular length?
  • The usual information on when the text will be ready and the deadline


If you work for an agency, you also need to provide this information, to be fair on the localiser

  • Is the job a quotation or a guaranteed job?
  • When you will know whether you have succeeded in getting the job

… and then let the localiser know whether or not you have succeeded in getting the job, so they can stop saving space in their schedule for it.

Why does my localizer need all this information?

Your localiser needs this information because without it they can’t give you an accurate and fair price and turnaround quotation.

For example, if you contact me to say you have 10,000 words of localisation to be done and you think it’s in a Word document …

  • If it turns out to be in proprietary software that I need to learn, I will need to put aside a few hours (at least) to learn how to use the software
  • If the text needs to be edited as well as localised, that’s two processes, will take me longer, and will cost more

The more information that you can give your localiser / localizer before they quote for you, the more accurate their quotation will be, and the more likely they are to be able to do the job once they’ve committed to it initially.

In this article, I’ve discussed what information your localiser or localization service needs before they can prepare a quotation and let you know if they can do a job. I’ve also probably annoyed you with my inconsistent spellings – but short of writing two entirely differently worded articles for US and UK searchers, this is what I have to do to be found by people who might find this article useful!

I hope you’ve found this useful – do hit the share buttons or comment if you have!

Other useful articles on this blog

Setting expectations with your service provider

Working with an editor 1: Asking for a quote

Working with an editor 2: Negotiating and booking in

What information does my transcriber need?

What is localisation?

Careers in localisation



Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Business, Localisation


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Very Basic Trados Studio 2014

I’ve written this post primarily to help myself work with Trados translation software (and the screenshots are with the permission of my client). However, one of my most popular posts ever was written for that purpose and gets hundreds of hits a day, years later, so I’m making this public in case it can help other people!

So, this is about the very basics of importing a package into Trados, opening the package and its files, editing the files, doing things like spell check and sending it back. I may well update this as I do more processes. Note this is from the point of view of someone who edits the English translations of texts, so I’m in Review mode. Other experiences may differ.

Importing packages

This doesn’t always work from double-clicking the file you’re sent.

Open Trados, go to the Projects tab, click on Open Package:

1 open package

Choose your package and it will come up in a dialogue window: click Finish:

1a finish

Then click close to get back to the main menus:

1b close

Look at the files you have and edit them

Go to the Files tab and you can see all the files in the package.

If the package contains subfolders then when you go to the files screen you won’t see any files or folders. You need to look at Project folders in the left-hand navigation to see any open folders [Thanks to Vikki for this info].

2 open files

Right-click for the contextual memory, and choose Open for Review. This will open the Edit view

3 open for review

Getting back to Edit

If you come out of Edit, click on the Editor tab and there’s the file you’re working on:

5 when you want to edit

Finishing the edit

When you’ve finished editing, click File (top tabs) and Close. This box will come up:

5a close edit

Choose yes.

Changing the font size

If the font is really small, go to the View tab (top tab), look to the right, click Font Adaptation Options then change the minimum sizes to 11 or more. This will change the size of the font in your editing screen.

7 change font

Running spell check

You can find spell check in the Review tab (top tabs) under Quality Assurance – if your window isn’t really wide, it will appear under the drop-down arrow.

4 spell check

You can get to find and replace using Ctrl-F and they work as in other packages.

Auto filling identical segments in Review mode is apparently not consistent so don’t expect to be able to do that in this mode.

Creating a return package

Save the edits (Save icon) Then go out of Editor into Projects and click Create Return Package

6 create return package

Choose where you want to save the file and then remember to click Finish.

6a Finish return package



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Posted by on June 15, 2016 in Localisation, Trados


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Localisation as a career

localisationI was recently asked for some hints about developing a career in localisation, and so here I share a bit of information about this rather specialised area of work.

What is localisation?

I covered the definition of localisation in an earlier post, but basically it’s all about changing content (whether that’s content in a novel, a website, marketing materials, dialogue in a computer game, instructions for operating equipment, etc.) so that it works in a different geographical location.

Typically, being a British English native speaker, I am asked to localise from American English into British English, for the British (or British English influenced English speaking) market.

“Oh,” you might cry, “that just means you change color to colour and organize to organise, right?” Well, there is a bit more to it than that, and I really don’t think it’s something that just anyone – even any editor – can do.

What background and skills do you need to do localisation?

As well as the classic attention to detail and background in perhaps editing, or indeed translation (it is actually often seen as a branch of translation, which brings its own issues, as we’ll find below), I think that it is vital to have experience in the language out of which you are localising: the way it works, its vocabulary, its punctuation, its spelling.

I used to work for an American company in its UK office. I spent a lot of time working on documents aimed for the two marketplaces. I travelled to America and had a lot of dealings with American colleagues, as well as travelling to America at other times, and got a good grasp of the difference between the two cultures. Still, like translators are meant to do, I will only localise out of US English into UK English. I do edit American English, so I see it and am made aware of its differences and special rules on at least one job per week.

Because of the links with translation, you also need a very special set of skills to do with operating specific, specialised translation software – which is very often not easy to use. I’ll talk about that in a minute.

I’ve also got a number of reference books – the New Oxford Style Manual is good on the variants in spelling, and I have other books in addition to the resources I use to edit in US English.

What is involved in US – UK English localisation?

As I mentioned above, it’s not just a question of changing the or spellings to our and taking out some zs (actually, British English of the Oxford variety does allow zs; however, I’ve found that all of my localisation clients or those who ask for work in specifically British English prefer to have the s spellings which they associate with British English – I do as I’m asked!). American and British English differ in terms of their spelling, punctuation and other grammar, and terminology. Here’s an invented example (US English on the left):


Now, of course, English is nothing if not subjective, and you might not agree with my choices here, but this serves as an example of the level of work involved in localisation. I might not change so much in every sentence, but there are an awful lot of issues to be aware of.

Another important issue is the range of texts involved in localisation projects. Most of mine have been under Non Disclosure Agreements, but I can tell you that I’ve worked on instructions for medical devices; dialogue for computer games; error messages for software; marketing materials for various large multinationals; and quizzes for people who sell a particular brand of product. So you need to be aware of the different registers involved in English writing, perhaps more even than when you’re editing.

How do localisation jobs work?

Herein lies the rub. As I mentioned earlier, localisation is often seen as akin to translation. And very often, a British English localisation is just one of a whole slew of translations into other languages that is being done, or it’s being handled by a company that handles translations and is used to dealing with translation software.

So, while pretty well all of my editing and proofreading jobs come in Word or PDF files, just one document to be annotated or changed, my localisation jobs come in the form of:

  • A Word document that has been output from translation software and has two columns, one for US English (the Source) and one for UK English (the Target), usually with the US English pasted into the UK column to be changed and marked up, broken up into sentences or sentence fragments, often with some highlighted in different colours
  • An Excel document in two or more columns, again broken up into sentences or sentence fragments. Sometimes the UK English is pre-populated into the Target column, sometimes not.
  • A file to be manipulated using standard translation software like Trados or Across. To use the full versions of these, you might need to buy and download somewhat expensive software.
  • A file to manipulated using the client’s own proprietary translation software – this is often web-based and free, but can take some learning, and they are ALL DIFFERENT

I’m not going to go into the details here, but basically any work done in a translation management system can be a bit frustrating for the localiser, as typically you’re not changing words in every segment, yet you will have to mark each segment as translated, often by hand and using a repetitive set of actions. All very well if you’re a translator, poring over every word, not so great when you are only changing one segment in five!

How do I get localisation work?

I tend to get my localisation work in two ways:

  • Through my membership of, which is a jobs (and more) website specifically for translators, but which does have editing (usually non-native English texts) and transcription jobs
  • Through people searching the web and finding that I discuss and offer localisation

I have several regular localisation clients. However, I don’t think I would want to do only localisation, as it’s quite a specific field and the projects involved can be quite long and complex.

In conclusion, localisation is something I would only suggest you go into if you have …

  • Good, solid experience with US and UK English
  • A high tolerance and capacity for learning new software interfaces fast and dealing with often recalcitrant and tricky systems


Related posts on this blog:

Read all of my careers advice posts here!


Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Business, Localisation, New skills, Skillset


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What is localisation (or localization)? How do I localise documents?

I’ve been doing some localisation for some new customers recently and, mentioning this on my Facebook page, etc., I realised that this isn’t a well-known process.  So, for those of you who are interested, and people who might have documents they would like to work in different regions of the world (there’s a clue!), here’s a quick guide to localisation.

One of the dictionary definitions of ‘localise’ is “to make local in character”, and that’s basically what it’s all about. Say a website, or a brochure, or an advert, or even a novel, has been produced in America. Obviously, the language is going to be American, rather than British English. Eggplant, freeway and optimize, as opposed to aubergine, motorway and optimise. Now, sometimes, the company or publisher putting out that document will want to adapt it for different markets, so that the reader feels comfortable with the text and can understand it without any strain. If the markets are in countries that don’t speak English, then a translator will be called in to translate it for their country.  And if the markets are in countries that speak English, but slightly differently, then someone like me is called in to “translate” the text into British, Australian, Canadian (etc.) English.

It’s not just a matter of turning all the “ize”s into “ise”s. There are grammatical differences (“different from” vs “different than”), spellings (“colour” / “color”, “anaesthetic” / “anesthetic”), and terms (“pavement” vs “sidewalk” and so on).  Then there are trickier things – would a British reader understand immediately what “resumé boosting” or other very American terms mean? The aim, as with editing in general, is to make the reading experience smooth, so that the reader absorbs the words and their message, rather than being jerked into consciousness that they’re reading a created text, and coming out of the immersion.

Not every editor, or every translator, can do this work. It’s more like translating than editing, and I can do it because I’ve got particular and useful experience working for the UK office of an American company, where I dealt with the two Englishes almost every day for a good few years.  Add to that my editorial experience and general language skills, plus attention to detail which means making a list of the words I’m looking out for and making sure I change them all – and that’s why I’ve been praised and will be used again by the two companies I’ve completed localisation projects for so far.

It’s fun, too!

Read more about localisation as a career


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