How to Perform Pseudolocalization: A Simple Guide for Product Teams


Adedamola Ojedokun

20 Oct 2023

6 min. read


Looking to shorten your product release cycle?

Localize your product in parallel with its development. Thus, neither the localization nor the development team would have to wait idly.

But what if you don’t have the localization process in place? Or what if you want to test text expansion issues before the final text is ready?

Enter the solution – pseudolocalization.

Keep reading to learn:

Pro tip: Pseudolocalize your product effortlessly using a professional localization platform – Centus. Simplify the localization process further by synchronizing your localization project with your code repositories. Learn more.

What Is Pseudolocalization?

what is pseudolocalization

Pseudolocalization is a software testing method that imitates localization to prevent potential errors.

To perform pseudolocalization, the original text is modified to resemble a target language. For example, the altered version of Save Changes is Şàvè Čĥáñğèş.

Pseudolocalization allows software developers to detect the issues with:

  • Character encoding

  • Text expansion and truncation

  • RTL (right-to-left) and LTR (left-to-right) languages

  • Special characters and diacritics

  • Missing translations

  • Date and time formatting

  • Layout and formatting

  • String concatenation

How Pseudolocalization Works

Pseudolocalization involves the following stages:

Text transformation

Text transformation allows you to imitate different target languages by modifying the original text with accents, diacritics, or other characters. Thus, the pseudolocalized text starts resembling the translated text without actual translation.

Testing and validation

A pseudolocalized application is tested to ensure that it will continue to function normally after the localization. Usually, testers check for text encoding, character support, text overlapping, and text truncation issues.

Visual inspection

Pseudolocalization helps to detect issues with the visual layout and design of an application that might occur when translations change the size of the text. This is useful for apps that have a limited amount of space available for translated text.

Encoding and character set testing

During pseudolocalization, developers also test various character encodings. This ensures that the application can handle the special characters used in different languages.

Placeholder localization

In some cases, placeholders are used in the pseudolocalized version of a text instead of transforming the text. For instance, the textual elements can be replaced with "{1} {2}". These placeholders can later be replaced with real translations.

Benefits of Pseudo-Localization

Pseudolocalization allows saving time and avoiding errors, thereby streamlining the software development cycle. Let’s look at these and other benefits in detail:

Early error detection

Pseudolocalization is a proactive strategy for finding potential issues in your software.

With pseudolocalization, developers can ensure that the UI supports differences in character sets, text lengths, and sizes. Similarly, the process can reveal potential issues with character encodings, date and time formats, currency symbols, and other globally specific settings.

Simplified internationalization and localization

Pseudolocalization allows you to check how your application adapts to multiple languages and regions.

By tackling potential issues early on, developers can save the time and effort required for thorough internationalization and localization.

Improved UI

Pseudo-localization offers a perspective on how global users may see your app.

By testing the app in their language, you can rectify a host of issues and, eventually, offer a better user experience.

Accelerated time-to-market

Pseudolocalization reduces time-to-market by addressing potential localization and internationalization issues early in the development cycle.

It also minimizes labor-intensive revisions throughout the localization phase, allowing you to reach global audiences faster. This accelerated time-to-market can offer you a major competitive edge.

How to Perform Pseudolocalization in 3 Steps

Pseudolocalization testing is essential to ensure that your software or website is ready to be used internationally. Here’s how to perform it:

Step 1: Set up your development environment

Set up your development environment to simplify the testing process and guarantee its accuracy. It goes like this:

1.Identify the target language list that you want to test. Understanding both source language and target language can help you choose the best pseudolocalization method.

2.Gather the assets and source code for your product or application. This comprises all the text strings, user interface components, and other content that will be a part of your product.

3.Back up your source code before you make any changes. This will make it easy to revert to the initial version if necessary.

Step 2: Prepare pseudolocalization tools and resources

Centus dashboard

Here are the tools and resources you will need:

1.Use libraries or frameworks to automate the pseudolocalization process. By simulating non-English characters, these libraries provide an accurate depiction of how text would appear in different languages.

2.Access a wide range of Unicode character tables and resources. This is required to produce pseudo-localized content with different character sets.

3.Create configuration files that specify the specifications and limitations of your pseudolocalization process. These files reveal how character substitution, text expansion, and other changes should be made.

4.Use terminology and translation memory databases to ensure consistency in the pseudo-localized content and actual translations.

5.Choose an automated pseudolocalization tool and configure its settings. Specify the character substitutions, text expansion rules, and layout adjustments required by the target languages.

Pro tip: Use the professional localization management suite, Centus, to automate the pseudolocalization process. Learn more.

Step 3: Test and validate

Follow these steps to ensure that your software or product is ready for internationalization and localization:

1.Apply the pseudolocalization settings to your software or source content.

2.Carefully review the pseudolocalized content and ensure that your software’s functionality is still intact.

3.Compile a detailed report of all bugs and defects.

4.Iterate the pseudolocalization and testing processes to address the detected issues.

5.Conduct a final validation to ensure the software or content is prepared for the localization and internationalization processes that will follow.

Pro tip: Involve localization and design teams in the pseudolocalization testing to defect the most elusive errors.

To Sum Up

Pseudolocalization is a critical step in testing software designed for global markets.

Apart from being a technical process, pseudolocalization is also a strategic approach for making your software or product appealing to a global audience. As such, it can give you a competitive advantage in a crowded market.


What is an example of a pseudo-localization?

An example of pseudolocalization is the substitution of English letters with foreign language characters: "Account Settings" – "Àççôûñţ Šéţţîñĝš"

What is pseudo loc?

Pseudo loc (or pseudolocalization) is a software testing method that is used to check the software’s readiness for localization. To perform it, the original language characters are substituted with foreign characters.

Why is pseudolocalization important?

Pseudolocalization is important because it helps to identify and fix potential localization issues early in the development cycle before translation even starts. This ensures that the product is launched on schedule and under budget while also saving time and money.

How do I perform pseudolocalization?

You can perform pseudolocalization in two ways:

  • Automatic pseudolocalization: Use pseudolocalization tools to automatically replace the original text with a pseudolocalized text.

  • Manual pseudolocalization: Manually insert a pseudolocalized text. Albeit slower, this process allows detecting more UI issues.

What are the tips for pseudolocalization?

The key pseudolocalization tips include the following:

  • Streamline the development process with an automatic pseudolocalization tool.

  • Test the application in all pseudo locales slated for localization.

  • Pay attention to the word order, character sets, diacritical marks, writing systems, text expansion, and text contraction.

  • Seek feedback from the native speakers of the target language.

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