Language Industry Standards

Translation and Localization Standards

Thousands of translation and localization companies operate around the world and each has their own way of doing things. For an outsider, it can be hard to evaluate a potential vendor or partner. How do they measure quality? Will I get professional customer service? Do they have a procedure in place for when something goes wrong? When faced with questions like these, industry standards can be useful to differentiate companies.

Demonstrating professionalism to customers is an important reason why translation companies become certified in translation standards. The complex task of preparing for certification helps organize, document, and improve internal processes. Finally, some requests for proposals (RFPs) require participants to be certified, particularly when working in regulated sectors.

Translation and localization standards are not static; they change and develop over time. Also, there are dozens of parallel standards from organizations around the world, and only a few of them are broadly popular (see lists below). Keep in mind that standards certifications are only one measure of a company's maturity and competence. If you're evaluating a service provider, be sure to look beyond the certification at other criteria to ensure a good fit with your projects and goals.

The most popular certifications in the language industry are issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

ASTM International is another standards body serving translation and localization sector.

GALA encourages language services companies to consider the benefits and costs of certification carefully, but it is not engaged in the certification process.

GALA's standards work is driven by the GALA Standards Committee which has ongoing projects creating educational and reference materials, providing analysis and recommendations, and advocating for standardization in the areas where it is most needed. 

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