Internationalization (i18n) vs Localization (l10n)

Jun 22, 2023#cs#i18n#l10n

Internationalization (often abbreviated as “i18n”) and localization (often abbreviated as “l10n”) are two related but distinct processes in software development that aim to make applications suitable for different languages, regions, and cultural preferences.


i18n refers to the design and development process of creating software in a way that enables easy adaptation to different languages and regions without requiring code modifications.

It involves making the application flexible and capable of supporting multiple languages, date formats, currencies, and other regional settings. The goal of i18n is to separate the application’s core functionality from specific language or region-related aspects, allowing for easier l10n in the future.

Key aspects of i18n include:

  • Designing software architecture to handle multiple languages and cultural conventions.
  • Externalizing text and content into resource files, allowing for translation and adaptation.
  • Formatting dates, times, numbers, and currencies based on the user’s locale.
  • Adapting user interface layouts for languages written from right to left (RTL) or for different character sets.


l10n involves the process of adapting an application or software product to a specific language, region, or cultural context.

It involves translating the text, modifying formats, and adjusting other elements to make the application feel native and suitable for the target audience. l10n focuses on customizing the application for a particular locale, taking into account language translations, region-specific preferences, and cultural nuances.

l10n activities include:

  • Translating user interface elements, such as labels, and messages, into the target language.
  • Adapting date, time, number, and currency formats to match local conventions.
  • Customizing images, icons, colors, and other visual elements to align with local preferences.
  • Incorporating region-specific content, such as legal disclaimers, addresses, or contacts.

In summary, i18n is the process of designing and developing software to be adaptable to different languages and regions, while l10n involves customizing the application for specific locales by translating and adapting content to suit the target audience. i18n sets the foundation for l10n, making it easier and more efficient to support multiple languages and regions in an application.