Understanding Different Types of Translation:
Literary Translation The name is pretty self-explanatory- It refers to the translation of literary works like stories, novels, poems, and plays. It is often considered the highest form of translation because a literary translation is so much more than the mere conveying of the meaning and context of the document in the source language into the target language. It involves incorporating the appropriate cultural nuances, translating humour, feelings, emotions, and other subtle elements of a particular work.


Many litterateurs believe that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to translate works of literature – especially poetry. Some examples of situations that could be very difficult are – rhyming words, puns, idioms, anagrams, and so on. Often, there are no appropriate translations in the target language, and the nuance is lost.


Have you ever tried translating a joke into another language? If you have, you would understand this. Haven’t you felt, that it didn’t seem as funny when translated? Often, many subtle connotations the writer has hinted at are lost in translation. Then there is the matter of the individualistic writing style of the author – this type of translator has a tough job in attempting to convey that uniqueness.

Software Localization Of course, in Software Localization the main thing to translate is the user interface, but software localization does not end there. It includes error messages, system messages, help files and so on. Here too, the content needs to be adapted to suit the local (target) culture.


At times, the translator may be faced with the prospect of internationalization – take a product like Coca-Cola, which is available almost everywhere in the world. The company will need to have their website in multiple languages, and rather than create multiple websites, which could cost a ton of money, it would make more sense to have the software handle several languages, and allow the user to translate the page into a language of their choice.


If you go to Wikipedia searching for info on anything, you will notice the choice of languages displayed on the left. The localized software may incorporate numerous practical and linguistic issues. Hence it is vital that it is thoroughly tested before releasing. Reputed translation services companies often have a multiple language testing centres to test localized software.

Commercial Translation Commercial Translation is a kind of translation that necessitates types of translators who possess specialized skills, like knowledge of the business jargon, and the industry to which the business belongs. The types of texts in the translation of commercial documents could include business correspondence, reports, tender documents, company accounts, memos and so on. Sometimes, this could overlap with legal translation if the company handles legal paperwork.
Legal Translation Legal Translation is one of the most complex translations, and involves birth certificate translations and marriage certificate translations, translating contracts, agreements, treaties, memorandums, wills, and so on. A good translator needs to understand the various underlying contexts of the documents and that of the two regions or countries for which the documents are intended – the socio-cultural aspects, and the politico-legal aspects as well. They would then need to translate it in a manner that the target audience easily grasps the text.


Even if you are familiar with the cultures and other aspects and are highly skilled at translation, you may need to consult legal professionals so as to ensure that your legal translation is completely error-free.

Technical Translation Technical Translation involves any technical content that needs to be translated – user guides, manuals, online help text, instruction booklets, training materials and videos, marketing materials for technical fields like manufacturing, science or engineering – all of this comes in the ambit of technical translation.


Formatting is an important aspect where the translation of technical content is concerned, as desktop publishing or DTP is required for it. Often the screenshots and even graphics have to be edited to make them suitable for the target language/s. Using a content management system or CMS will help you keep the cost down.


When choosing a translator, it is essential to check how well versed they are with the terminology and jargon used in your specific industry – if they are not as familiar with that stuff as you’d like but they are proficient in the translation as such.


It would make sense to provide training for them to familiarize them with your industry in general, and your business in particular. Remember that as diverse as the types of translations are, so the different types of translator are.


As a translation service provider, it would be worth investing in an efficient TMS or translation management system; it can automate your project tasks and bring down your admin costs.


By nature, technical content translation is complicated, and even a tiny error may result in a huge mistake at a later point; therefore, it is a good practice to check how stringent the quality control measures taken by the translation service provider are. Ideally, they should be ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 17100:2015 certified.

Judicial Translation When we talk about Judicial Translation, we basically refer to the activity of translating court documents like depositions, minutes of meetings, expert testimonies, witness testimonies, judgments, letters rogatory, interviews and more – basically, activities related to cases.


Yes, the nature and scope of this type of translation is different from legal translation; although both are related translation types, the latter is about translating legal documents – which could be very old too.


Administrative Translation Administrative Translation – In the realm of translation, administrative refers to the translation of management texts we often see being used in organizations – whether huge corporations or regional businesses. Though pretty similar to commercial translations, it is not exactly the same. While administrative translation can be called a subset of commercial translation, all commercial translation is not necessarily administrative.
Medical Translations Medical Translation involves any medical content that is patient related, like labels, packaging, instructions, or software, and content that is product related, like research papers, clinical trial paperwork, quality management certificates and the like, usually needs translation. It is absolutely imperative that the translation service providers are experienced, have the requisite knowledge, and are in-country professionals.


If you want to know on Medical Translation, please check our post on Medical Translation – Requirements, Categories and Examples


Translation of medical documents can also be very tricky as the requirements of general translation can differ from country to country; a kind of translator or company specialized in medical documents would be your best bet, as they would be familiar with the intricacies of all the different requirements.


Website Translation Website Translation is about website copy, subtitles for videos on your web pages, and any documents you have there. Here you will also need to change things like currencies, address formats and layouts, so as to appeal to the different local audiences.


You need to think about the languages you want your website to be translated into and localize only those pages which will apply to the target audience. Using a website translation management system to automate and ease the process if you have frequent updates to your website copy.

Script Translation Script Translation is vital nowadays because of many popular movies and TV shows coming out of Hollywood and being dubbed into several languages and released worldwide.


Sometimes the film is from foreign languages and dubbed into English and other European languages – like the Telugu language blockbuster from India, Baahubali, which was released in Chinese and German, among other languages.


The Harry Potter series was also released in dozens of languages. But for these releases to happen, the scripts have to be translated first – and the dialogues.


You can say this is a type of literary translation, but it’s not exactly the same. It can be very dicey, as translating punchlines, jokes or catchy phrases into another language to make the same impact is very difficult. With more movies being released in multiple languages nowadays, this type of translation is very much in demand today.

Multimedia Localization Videos, graphics, animations, GIFs, infographics – all this can be grouped under Multimedia Localization; and this is very important today, as more and more companies are creating multimedia content to widen their audience reach and keep them engaged.


Localizing this content can get quite tricky though it may look simple from the outside – as it has to be appropriate for the local culture, and appeal to the customers in that region. If you don’t do it correctly, you could end up offending your audience – and drive them away.

Financial Translation Financial Translation is about financial documents like bank records, statements, account statements and more – which sometimes need to be translated to make it easier for the target audience to comprehend. Here the actual content that you need to translate may be lesser, but it has to be done precisely; you may also be required to change the currencies – in which case, you would need to also convert the figures.



According to research made by translated day and types of translation, study shows that these are the main types of translations, but there are many more translation types such as back translation, notarized translation, machine translation, etc, and there are all different kinds of processes and technologies that can work for the different types of translation projects. What makes sense for one translation type might not work for another.