12 Different Types of Translation Services – Definitions and Examples

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Communication across different languages and cultures is vital in our increasingly interconnected world. At the heart of this global conversation lie translation services, which serve as bridges, connecting disparate languages, cultures, and ideas. Understanding the various translation services available is essential to select the right one for your specific needs. This article will guide you through twelve different types of translation services, each catering to a distinct aspect of translation. We’ll delve into their definitions, requirements, and unique examples to provide a comprehensive understanding of the diverse and specialized field of translation. Prepare to unravel the complexities and beauty of linguistic transfer and cross-cultural communication.

12 Types of Translation Services

Following are the 12 different types of translation services with examples: 

1. Translation

Technical translation services involve the translation of texts related to technological subject areas or those dealing with the practical use of scientific knowledge. For example, this can include user manuals for electronic devices, patent documents, or engineering specifications. Clarity, accuracy, and a deep understanding of the subject matter are critical in this translation.

2. Legal Translation

The legal translation covers the translation of legal documents such as contracts, court judgments, legal notices, statutes, and regulations. Here, a translator needs extensive knowledge of legal terminology in both the source and target languages, as witnessed in translating a business contract from Japanese to English. It requires high precision to avoid any legal complications.

3. Medical Translation

Medical translation involves texts related to healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. It requires the translator to have specialized knowledge of medical terminology and protocols. An example is translating a medical journal article or patient records from German into English.

4. Literary Translation

Literary translation involves translating literature such as novels, poems, plays, and short stories. Translating Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s works into different languages is a fitting example. It demands a fine balance between maintaining the original message and adapting the text to the cultural context of the target language.

5. Business Translation

Business translation or commercial translation handles documents related to the business world, like reports, business plans, correspondence, etc. A business translator might, for instance, translate a French company’s annual report into English. Consequently, understanding both business jargon and cultural nuances is essential for successful business translation.

6. Financial Translation

Financial translation involves translating financial documents such as annual reports, financial statements, and investment summaries. An example is the translation of a multinational corporation’s balance sheet from Chinese into English. Furthermore, this service requires an in-depth understanding of financial terminology and standards in both languages.

7. Certified Translation

Certified translations are often required for official documents like birth certificates, academic records, or marriage licenses. Moreover, in these cases, a professional translator certifies that the translation is a true and accurate rendition of the original document. For instance, an immigrant might need their birth certificate translated and certified from Spanish into English for visa processing.

8. Website Translation

Website translation, or web localization, is translating a website’s content into various languages, making it accessible and culturally suitable to different target audiences. For example, a Japanese e-commerce website translates into French, considering not just language but also cultural symbols, graphics, and even colors.

9. Audiovisual Translation

The audiovisual translation covers the translation of multimedia content, like movies, TV shows, and online videos. Subtitling a popular Korean drama into English is a typical instance. It requires expertise in synchronizing the translated content with the visual and auditory elements.

10. Scientific Translation

Scientific translation involves the translation of scientific texts like research papers, studies, theses, and conference proceedings. An example is translating a complex physics paper from Russian into English. This type requires a deep understanding of the specific scientific field and its terminologies.

11. Localization

Localization goes beyond just translating the text. It involves adapting a product or content to a target market’s culture, customs, and legal aspects. For instance, a video game developed in the U.S. localizes for the Japanese market by changing the language and certain characters or plots to fit Japanese culture better.

12. Transcreation

Transcreation, also known as creative translation, involves translating and recreating the original content to make it culturally and emotionally appealing to the target audience. It’s frequently used in advertising and marketing. A catchphrase for a product may be entirely reimagined in another language to evoke the same emotional response. For instance, an English tagline may not work well when directly translated into Arabic, so it’s recreated to resonate with the Arabic-speaking audience.


Translation services are diverse and tailored to various needs, whether for a multinational corporation, a filmmaker, or an immigrant. Each type demands a unique set of skills and expertise, further highlighting the complexity and richness of the language service industry. When choosing a professional translation service, understanding these distinctions can help you select the best service that fits your needs and ensures your message is effectively communicated, regardless of language or culture.

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