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Demystifying the language services business – The translation industry glossary



Alignment or Translation Memory Alignment

Basically, this is a process of making previous translations and any legacy materials available in a Translation Memory format. This process is hugely useful when changing translation providers or updating systems because it means that clients are not forced to continue relationships with LSPs and can still reap benefits of long-term partnerships while starting a new working relationship.

Analysis or Linguistic Analysis

This term applies to the examination of a language sample. Such analysis is often the first step of translation or localization process, and we use it to determine the complexity and other features of the source material to make a prognosis about the price and deadlines for the project.

Anonymization or Data Anonymization

Anonymization is the process of rendering personal data anonymous. It’s a GDPR-mandated procedure used by companies to process and utilize personal data without violating the law. Good LSPs will be able to perform this for clients as part of language services.


Artboards are individual workspaces featured in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. You can think about them as individual pieces of paper on a larger canvas. We use artboards to compare different designs, test color schemes and to make sure various pieces of work are consistent with one another.

ASAP or asap

This abbreviation sees a lot of use in our day to day lives as a LSP and it means As Soon As Possible.



Generally, a baseline is a fixed point used for comparison purposes. In DTP environment, however, it’s the line upon which most letters sit – you can’t get the typography right without it!


For our purposes, bilingual means written, created, or done using two languages. This term is often used for dictionaries, databases and translated materials.


This term is part of DTP vocabulary, and we typically use it to denote a type of link with representative text that makes it easier to navigate documents exported as Adobe PDF.


This process refers to adding or removing branding signs. We perform this for clients as a part of DTP process.


CAT tools

Computer Assisted Translation tools is a broad term encompassing software that facilitates the actual translation process. They can include translation memory facilities, spell and grammar checkers, text aligners and the like.

Certified translation

Any translation that has been certified by a translator to be accurate. The translator accepts legal responsibility in case of inaccuracies. This level of translation is typically enough for the translated document to be used in formal procedures of a given country but quite a few insist on only so-called “sworn” translations to be used in legal or administrative proceedings. Please see Sworn translation for more detail as we’ve found a lot of people think it’s one and the same.

Character style

Typical of Adobe InDesign, this term refers to a collection of formatting attributes that can be applied to a text in a single step. Also present in Microsoft Office, albeit used to a lesser degree. See also paragraph style.


CMYK refers to the primary colors of pigment: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. Alongside RGB, this term denotes a mode of mixing colors in graphic design. As a subtractive mode, it works best with printed media.


A concordance is a list of expressions found in a given text or file, alongside their explanations and pages/points of origin within this text or file. A concordance is, crucially, not a simple index, as it contains additional meanings and explanations.

Context match

In computer-assisted translation project, a context match takes place when the segment to be translated is identical to a segment in Translation Memory and this has to apply to a segment before and after, creating the context.

Copy editing

Performed by copy editors, this process involves checking a text for consistency and accuracy.


Cross references are, in our opinion, a woefully underused function of word-editing software, notably Microsoft Word. They allow the user to link parts of a given document to other parts of the same document. This is most often encountered in clickable tables of content or footnotes.


Shortened form of Comma-Separated Values, this format uses commas to separate data points and can be represented in Microsoft Excel.



Typically, a draft is a preliminary, often initial version of a document or file. In the DTP environment, draft can also mean a pre-DTP process version of the document submitted for the language Quality Control.

DTP/Desktop Publishing

Desktop Publishing refers to the use of a digital desktop software for document construction and layout. DTP specialists make sure the translated documents have the same layout as the originals, a task often needed due to the differences in character length between different languages.


This term refers to the quality control of documents, especially ones prepared with the use of DTP (Desktop Publishing) software. In the translation and localization industry, this means that a DTP specialist will make sure that the target document corresponds correctly to its source, there are no hanging lines, and all letters are where they should be.


Editable file/document or file

If a file or document is editable, it can be edited, changed, or updated in its native application. For example, a typical Word file is editable as it can be changed in Microsoft Word software.

Embedded font

Typical of Adobe product suite, an embedded font is a text style contained in a document in the .pdf format that holds additional display information.


An estimate is a part of the language project, where the vendor provides a rough calculation of the project’s price to the potential buyer and Turnaround Time (TAT).



A font is a set of characters that share specific style and size. A good example is Verdana – a font family, Verdana italic – a typeface, and Verdana italic 12-point – a font. See also typeface in this glossary.

Font mapping

Sometimes a font will need to be equated to another, often for print or DTP purposes. This process is called font mapping and should not be confused with font substitution, as no fonts are replaced at this point.

Fuzzy match

To understand what a fuzzy match is, you have to know a little about Translation Memories (TMs). Such a software breaks the text to be translated into segments and then looks for matches between those segments and the TM content to make suggestions for a possible translation. If said match is less than exact, we call it being fuzzy.

See also other types of matches.



GILT is the acronym for globalization, internationalization, localization, and translation. This acronym is used in business to mean different facets of expanding businesses globally and reaching new markets.


Globalization is the process by which the world becomes more and more interconnected thanks to free trade and new technologies. In the corporate setting, globalization is done by the means of localization and internationalization. Sometimes abbreviated to G11N, where 11 is the number of letters between the first, G, and the last, N.


A glossary is simply an alphabetical list of terms pertaining to a field or topic of interest, alongside with their definitions. You are probably familiar with the term dictionary, which is applied to the lists of terms that are more general in nature. You are using such a glossary right now. For the translation and localization industry, a glossary can also mean a supplementary file that can be applied to a CAT tool to improve translation quality.


ICE match

Sometimes called an In-Context Exact Match or a Guaranteed Match, this is the suggestion of the TM, in which all the words are the same as in a TM entry. In addition, the segments before and after said segment are also identical to a set of three consecutive TM segments and provide perfect matches.

See also other types of matches.

ICR/In-Country Review

This is an important element of both translation and localization processes. In short, it refers to the end audience’s input on the translation and localization project. This input is crucial to making sure the translated or localized message is culturally and linguistically appropriate for its audience.


In the corporate world, internationalization refers to the practice of designing products, services, and operations for expansion into international markets. Alongside localization, the internationalization is typically undertaken as a means of global expansion of a given company. Sometimes abbreviated to I18N, where 18 is the number of letters between the first, I, and the last, N.


ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, is responsible for the development and publication of International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.



Kerning is one of the font attributes and it refers to the amount of space between the individual characters.


Language code

Language codes are sets of symbols used to denote various languages. They are typically used in formal or longer texts. You might know that English language can be referred to as en or en-US – which is an example of the ISO 639 code. The current code that is most often used in the translation and localization industry in Europe is ISO 639-2, where English language is referred to as eng. However, other codes remain in use depending on the industry and the location of the users.

Language pair

In a linguistic environment, a language pair refers to two languages a professional is able to translate from one to the other. In this instance, you’d write the language pair as EN-PL to denote English and Polish services. Language pairs can be one directional, which means that the professional would only be able to work from the language on the left to the language on the right. In this case, we’d write the languages as EN>PL to mean the services would be from English to Polish but not Polish to English.

Layer (INDD/PSD)

Layers are a prominent feature of the Adobe product suite, in particular of Adobe Photoshop and InDesign. The easiest way to explain what they are is if you imagine transparent sheets of glass stacked on top of each image. You can perform actions on one or more of these layers, remove them from view or export just some. This allows for a great detail of precise manipulations of a given file without the need for creating several versions.


This term typically refers to the way of arranging elements in a digital document/file or on its pages. The typical website will have a layout where blocks of text are interspersed with images and this layout will most likely have to be preserved when localizing it to other languages.


Localization takes place when a product or service is adapted to meet the needs of a particular language, culture or population’s “criteria of ownership”, i.e., when our target audience accepts the service or product as having been made locally, within their culture. Sometimes abbreviated to L10N, where 10 is the number of letters between the first, L, and the last, N.

LQA/Linguistic Quality Assurance

This term refers to the Quality Assurance tasks performed by linguists in order to find errors in a given translation. This is a specialised process that relies on grouping errors according to an existing schema, or an ordinance rule.

LSO/ Linguistic Sign-Off

This term refers to the final review of a given version of a document and other materials that have been prepared using Desktop Publishing. Also called In-Context Review, this process is implemented to make sure all visual elements both work and reflect the source faithfully.


This abbreviation means Language Service Provider and is used to mean an agency, company or an individual who provides language services such as translation, localization, or interpreting. One example of a LSP is Studio Gambit.

LTR languages

Languages, where content is displayed left to right. Good example of this is the English language of this glossary. The differences between LTR and RTL languages come into play in the translation and localization of files, as well as websites. See also RTL languages.


Machine Translation (MT)

Machine translation takes place when a computer generates translation based on specific algorithm sets. Such a translation can be rule based, statistical or neural – or a hybrid of any of the three. Google Translate is a good example of a Machine Translation Engine. Often confused with Computer Assisted Translation, it only refers to the actions of software, not any human input.

Machine Translation Post-Editing

Machine Translation Post-Editing takes place when the text translated by a machine engine are then proofread by a human translator. Depending on the intensity and requirements of proofreading, we can employ slow and detail-oriented Full Machine Translation Post-Editing (Full MTPE), or quick and agile Light Machine Translation Post-Editing (Light MTPE).


This is an abbreviation of Multi-Language Vendors, i.e., entities who provide localization or language services into multiple different languages. Studio Gambit is a good example of an MLV which employs many SLVs (Single Language Vendors). For more about SLVs please see below.


Neural Machine Translation (NMT)

This innovative type of Machine Translation (MT) adapts to the style of work and learns from corrections in real time. It is also able to adapt to the context of the translated project. Its conception has come following such solutions as Rules-Based Machine Translation (RBMT) which translated word for word with no understanding of nuance, and Statistical Machine Translation (SMT), which had a basic understanding of idioms and context.

Non-editable document or file

When a file or document is non-editable (sometimes called a non-editable) it just means it can’t be edited, changed, or updated in its native application. A good example of this is a read-only Word document, where the option to change or edit has been blocked or a document scan that can be processed by an OCR reader and made editable.


OCR conversion

OCR, i.e. Optical Character Recognition, refers to the method of decrypting scanned images, files and screenshots. OCR conversion can make a scanned document editable in a text processor, thus allowing faster text extraction for translation and localization purposes. 


Package (INDD, Studio, etc.)

A package is a file with all the images, documents, vector art and other links with all fonts of a given document alongside a copy of the original document. It’s a useful way to deliver projects that allows for greater detail and editability than just a single .pdf or .txt file format.

Paragraph style

Typical of Adobe InDesign, this term refers to a collection of both character and paragraph-formatting attributes that can be applied to one or more paragraphs in a given layout.


In the context of Quality Control, these terms refer to passing or failing a Quality Control (QC) test.

Perfect match

A companion to fuzzy and ICE matches, this is when for a given segment, there is an exact match to the segment in the previous version of a document that had been translated before. Usually, this doesn’t involve any look-ups in the TM (in contrast to 100% match and other types of matches). This means that an identical segment has been translated before in the previously-translated document and is now invoked to help make the translation more effective and consistent. See also other types of matches.

PO/Purchase Order

A purchase order is a typical part of the commercial process, and it refers to a formal document detailing the official offer from buyer to the seller. Such a document typically contains types, quantities, and prices for the specified translation and localization services.


This lone suffix has become a noun, meaning the stage when a team of software engineers prepares the files for further translation or localization work. This term can be added to a noun (pre-translation), or used on its own.

Print resolution

Print resolution refers to the level of detail in the printed image. It’s measured in DPI (Dots Per Inch), which refer to the number of ink droplets the printer deposits on an inch of paper. Standard resolution for high quality images is 300 DPI.

Printer’s marks

Not to be confused with the printer signatures from the Middle Ages, these marks play a crucial role in document printing. They are typically added in pdf files and to the parent sheets in order to ensure higher printing quality and proper document alignment.


In the field of translation and localization industry, a project refers to a set of materials alongside tasks with a specified completion goal. In localization in particular, projects can form parts of larger sets called localization campaigns.


This is the process of finding errors in texts for sharing or publication.

Pseudo translation

In translation and localization industry, pseudo translation is a dummy translation of a given text made to test the translation process. This term should not be confused with literary pseudo translation, which refers to works written as translations of nonexistent source texts.


QA/Quality Assurance

Quality assurance is the set of systematic processes by which a given company assures the quality of its products or services. For LSPs, it involves actions such as copy editing, proofreading and translation review.

QA checks

Quality Assurance checks are typically performed within a CAT tool to prevent the easily detectable errors, like typos.

QA Report

Short form of a Quality Assurance Report, in a linguistic environment this means a special report type that translators can run to keep track of errors and best practices in their projects. Often, these would be run as part of the Computer Assisted Translation to reveal discrepancies between the source and target segments.


Raster image/graphic

You might have come across this term when software informed you that an image is raster and therefore non-editable. The reality is a little more complex than that but basically, raster images are formatted in such a way that they will become blurry and/or distorted when enlarged. They can still be edited using software like Adobe Photoshop, but it will be a time-consuming process in most cases, as changes need to be implemented on a pixel-level.

Reference text/file

In the translation and localization field, a reference text or file contains additional details of the project, such as website or software visuals, as well as pertinent terminology and vocabulary.


RGB refers to the primary colors of Red, Green and Blue that are used in digital screens, lenses and scanners. Alongside CMYK, this term describes one of color-mixing modes in graphic design. As an additive mode, it works best for digital design.

RTL languages

Languages, where the content is displayed from right to left. Good examples are Arabic, Hebrew, and Urdu languages. The differences between RTL and LTR languages come into play in the translation and localization of files, as well as websites. See also LTR languages.



You’d be surprised to find out how many localization projects started out as a single screenshot. Typically, the term refers to an image taken of a digital screen using native or downloaded software. It’s a useful way to share project specifics and compare the layout of the output to one of the original.

Segment 99, 100, or 101%

This means a translated segment has resulted in a specific type of match. 

Segment 99%/ (99% match) – this result means that there is an almost identical segment in the Translation Memory for the project.

Segment 100%/ (100% match) – this means that the Translation Memory contains an identical segment that has already been translated.

Segment 101%/ (101% match) – this result means that not only the Translation Memory contains an identical segment that has already been translated, but that any changes to this translation have been blocked by the client. This often happens in cases of corporate and marketing expressions.


In translation, segmentation is the process of breaking down the source text into smaller units, most probably to go through the matching process in order to determine how the matches can aid the translator’s work.


This abbreviation denotes Single Language Vendors. Typically, this group consists of translators specialising in one language pair, such as English-German or Polish-Swedish. MLVs can employ or subcontract SLVs to offer services in more than one language pair.

Spell check

This refers to the software or to a function of a software that identifies possible misspellings by comparing a block of text with a database of accepted spellings.

Style Guide

There are two types of style guides in the translation and localization industry. The first refers to a set of rules with regards to communication, most often written and illustrated. They are company or brand-specific and are used to help establish consistency of translated materials.

The second type of style guides is more technical in nature, and it refers to the font and layout settings of a document. Also used to help establish consistency of translated materials, these can be treated as templates.

Sworn translation

Sworn translations is a colloquial way to speak about translations that can only be produced by sworn translators. Such translations are the golden standard for legal documents or a document that needs to be accepted in a court of law or any other legal situation. Many countries accept certified translation without the need to pay for a sworn translator’s services, however, so it’s always good to ask! Please see also certified translation above.


Term base

A term base is a data base that contains singular words or phrases related to a particular subject or field. It’s typical of term bases to contain equivalents in more than one language.


This simply means the body of terms related to a certain concept or field.

Trained Machine Translation

This means a machine translation with the use of “trained” engines – pieces of software capable of translating texts from a source language to a target language. Training such an engine is nothing less than loading into it a database full of bilingual terms previously translated by a client or an LSP. This process results in a more precise Machine Translation, saving time and effort.


Derived from “creative translation”, this process covers adapting one, ‘source’ language’s written concepts and meanings to another, ‘target’ language. Most commonly utilized in marketing and advertising fields to adapt slogans and messages to different cultural backgrounds.


In the translation and localization industry, transcription refers to a text that has been converted to the written format from an audio or video recording. This process of conversion is called transcribing.


This portmanteau of translation and editing means that the translation of a text and its subsequent verification are performed by the same person. Typically, there are two stages to this process. The first stage is the translation proper; this is when the translator can ask questions to find out more about the source text. The second stage is when the translator proofreads and edits the first draft of the translation. Often, the translator would go over the translated text several times as this is the last time this text would be verified linguistically before its delivery to the client.


Translation typically covers expressing one, ‘source’ language’s written concepts and meanings in terms of another, ‘target’ language. It’s a complex and demanding process calling for educated specialists and competent businesses. Sometimes abbreviated to T9N, where 9 is the number of letters between the first, T, and the last, N.

Translation consistency

There are two types of translation consistency, internal and external. Internal consistency means that all language items had been translated consistently using the same words within one target text. External consistency is the same but applied to an entire project or a group of projects. 

Translation Memory (TM)

This is a commonly used term which denotes a database with segments of text that have been translated before. Translation Memories are typically used with translation software like CATs to improve effectiveness and consistency of a translation project.

Translation Page/Standard Translation Page

Oftentimes a project would provide a number of pages to be translated. A standard translation page is a measurement unit so the LSPs and their clients can be aware how many words and characters there are in a project.

One standard page contains from 1500 to 1800 characters with spaces or 250 words. A standard page for a certified or sworn translation is always 1125 characters with spaces.

Translation Review

Translation review is the process of checking translated texts for appropriate quality, consistency, tone, and style.


This term refers to the analysis and solving of problems in professional setting. For a LSP, this is closely related to Quality Assurance and Translation Review amongst other processes.

Turnaround Time / TAT

This term refers to the time it takes for a certain task to be performed. In the translation and localization industry, this would roughly mean time from when a translator is assigned a text to when the finished project is delivered to the client. In a similar manner, a turnaround time for a localization project refers to the time from assignment to final delivery to the client. Please note that this term might have slightly different meaning depending on the LSP.


A TXT file is a standardized text file able to hold plain text and able to be opened in any text editing program.


You might have seen this term used mistakenly as a synonym for font. In reality, a typeface refers to a given set of signs that share a style and design. Basically, typeface can contain more than one font, as Verdana italic typeface contains Verdana italic 10-point, Verdana italic 12-point and so on. See also font.



Shortened form of User Assistance, typically used to describe the guidance for users of software.


Shorthand for User Interface, this term represents any interactions a user might have with computer systems, software, and digital applications.


This short form of User Experience refers to the overall “feel” of using or accessing software or brand. UX-centric design makes user experience the focus of its efforts.



Verifika is one of the most popular translation quality software packages, with the focus on monitoring and improvement of translation quality. See also XBench.



A watermark is typically a very light, transparent design painted on a surface that is more visible when seen against a light source. It’s typically used to mark ownership of a document in a way that is not obtrusive. In DTP, watermarks are still transparent and light. They can also fulfill a similar role, albeit they can also be used for an aesthetic effect.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

WCAG comprises a set of rules for all online content to be presented in a widely-accessible formats and to large audiences. These rules have been set up by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization on the Internet.

Whitespace characters

This vaguely arcane term belongs to the realm of typography and denotes any character or characters that represent horizontal or vertical space. There are six important white-space characters: the word space, the nonbreaking space, the tab, the hard line break, the carriage return, and the hard page break.

Word count

The word count is a feature of all written texts, and it refers to the total number of words in a document or its part. You might remember this term from school when the teacher set up a word limit on an essay. In translation and localization industry, this feature is often used to discuss and price projects.



Also, ApSIC Xbench, is a widely used translation quality assurance and terminology management software. XBench allows its users to quickly revise and update documents. See also Verifika.


XLIFF is the XML Localization Interchange File Format that is universal to the translation and localization industry.


A shortened form of a Microsoft Excel Open XML Spreadsheet, when a file ends with .xlsx, it’s a sign that it was created in Microsoft Excel.


Shortened form of Extensible Markup Language, a markup language and file format used to store, transmit and reconstruct data. XML files can store large amount of data, the format is also readily used in the translation and localization industry.

Studio Gambit Team

We are the translators, editors, proofreaders, project managers, IT specialists, localization engineers and DTP operators forming part of the team here at Studio Gambit.

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