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10 Shortcuts on the Road to Localization

Make content that’s quick and cheaper to localize

Content creators need to produce engaging material that clearly communicates a company's message. Translation and content localization services companies help ensure that content is equally engaging and clear in a new language — sometimes using gen AI language services. The longer this localization process takes, the harder it is for the client company to activate global projects efficiently and cost-effectively. 

Companies can shorten the localization process and speed project completion by creating easy-to-localize source content. They can also achieve faster timelines via AI services and AI strategy from gen AI language providers.  

Want to make sure your content localizes faster? Here are 10 tips for using AI solutions and creating content that will make the localization process go smoothly. 

Use simple sentences and AI tools for more efficient localization services

Content is easiest to translate when it's simple. Use the standard English subject-verb-object construction and avoid complex sentences with multiple clauses. To make multiple points at once, use bulleted lists or tables to separate your thoughts.

The most significant challenge when simplifying your sentences is keeping your content both readable and professional. Don’t use overly technical words, but also avoid a patronizing tone. Be direct, not didactic. If you need help changing the tone of your copy, consider using AI tools, which can alter the tone of text. Lionbridge has used AI tools to change customers’ content from formal to informal tones.

Avoid Verbose Content for faster Localization Services

It's critical to be direct with vocabulary. Writing for a global audience demands a basic, professional vocabulary.

Never use two words where one could work. Use shorter, more commonly used words whenever possible. Restrict yourself to no more than one modifier per noun or verb, and don't choose words with multiple meanings.

When in doubt, ensure you're only conveying one idea in each phrase or sentence.

Be Clear

Brevity is essential, but shouldn't come at the expense of clarity. Sometimes, omitting a word can muddy a sentence’s meaning.

Consider the command, “You can change the language of the system using this software.”

Does the sentence mean the software itself will help you change the system's language? Or that you can change the language of the system that happens to be using the software?

The meaning is much more precise if you add just two words: “You can change the language of the system that is using this software.”

Don't cut out relative pronouns like “that” or “who” just to save space. They usually make translation easier.


“The woman who is waving at us.”

Not: “The woman waving at us.”

Use the Active Voice for Cost-effective Localization Services

The active voice focuses on an action’s source. It’s almost always clearer than the passive voice.


Active: “The officer arrested the suspect.”

Passive: “The suspect was arrested by the officer.”

Sentences in the active voice are easier to translate and understand than sentences in the passive voice. Always use them as the default approach to writing for a global audience. The exception: any situation in which you need to emphasize the action, not the actor.

Consider the sentence, “He was robbed.” The passive voice works best here if you don't know (or don’t want the reader to know) the culprit’s identity. However, situations like that are relatively uncommon. 

Avoid idioms or use AI tools

Idioms are figurative expressions that only make sense in their language of origin. For example, the English idiom “feeling under the weather” makes sense to English speakers. However, it would be nonsensical if translated directly into another language. A German or Spanish speaker reading a direct translation might wonder about the significance of someone’s physical position relative to the weather.

Translating idioms literally can be problematic for global brands. Mistranslations can be clunky at best and offensive at worst. For that reason, global content creators should try to avoid them.

Beyond avoiding idioms, companies may also want to consider AI solutions that flag and help rewrite idiomatic copy. AI tools can be trained to identify idioms. Then, the tool itself can suggest changes, or a human reviewer can do so.

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Cut Local Custom or Culture References

Social traditions or popular culture references can help you connect to readers if you share the same cultural background. However, references can confuse or even alienate global readers.


Global content about autumn shouldn’t mention “trick-or-treating,” an American custom.

A product may “hit it out of the park,” but most people worldwide don’t know about baseball.

Use Humor Sparingly for Efficient Localization Services

Jokes are fun, but only if an audience understands them. Humor is frequently very culturally specific. Use it carefully, or avoid it entirely when you know you'll use translation services. Never make puns. Plays on words never translate well. It’s also critical to never make light of customs and values that a target culture takes very seriously.

Reuse Translated Content

Professional language service providers use automated memory tools called Translation Memories (TMs) to avoid re-translating content that has already undergone translation. Using TMs saves both time and money for clients.

If you can find a document that’s been translated, keep any relevant content. Only update what needs updating. The more sections of content you can reuse, the faster your LSP can complete your translation.

Keep Consistent Terminology with AI Tools

Writers often use synonyms to avoid repetition when writing in their native language. However, this strategy complicates translation, making it both difficult and costly.

When you use multiple words for a single concept, you risk misinterpretation with each new term. If you're writing about “content,” keep writing about “content.” Don't refer to “material,” “articles,” or “pieces”—not without a transitional phrase (like “pieces of content”), anyway.

Language service providers can ensure consistent terminology by feeding a style guide or terminology glossary to an AI tool. They can do this at the beginning or end of a translation. The tool will check for inconsistent usage and help to remedy it.

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Words or Phrases May Be Longer or Shorter in a New Language

When writing text for translation and localization, remember that the same translated word will probably be a different length in the new language. For example, German often has long compound words that mean the same thing as an entire English phrase. That will be problematic if your formatting does not accommodate long words.

Any time you have text that you need to localize, make sure it’s formatted to work in the target languages. That also applies when the target language is written right-to-left. Work with your design team to make your formatting versatile.

A Final Word on Localization Services

Content creators are always part of a team, especially when localization is involved. You can expedite the localization process and make it cost-effective when you consider the impact of your writing on design and localization services.

Get in touch

Need AI-powered translation and localization solutions for your content? Lionbridge uses innovative technology and decades of experience to serve our customers. Let’s get in touch to discuss your content goals. Trust our team to ensure your AI-powered solutions are safe and tailored to your goals. 

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Samantha Keefe