Biblical translation is a difficult task because you're trying to get words and meaning out of 1900+ year old text and make it intelligible to people today in their own native language.
Because of this, translation kind of becomes a spectrum. On one end, you have word-by-word translation while on the other end you have a paraphrase meant for everyone to understand.
Here are the three broad categories:
This type of bible takes the original language and (word for word) translates it into the target language (for lack of a better term).
This type of translation is willing to move words around slightly to make the meaning clear in the target language. For example, adjectives in some languages (Spanish, Latin, etc.) come after the noun they modify instead of before (like in English, German, etc.). So, when translating, they may move adjectives or other words around to make them conform to the target language.
Examples: English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible
This type of translation tries to maintain the original intent of the text. It takes a phrase or sentence or paragraph at a time and puts it into more modern terms. Instead of translating each individual word, they translate larger chunks.
The idea behind this is that it allows the text to be more easily understood by modern languages while still retaining the original meaning.
Examples: New Living Translation, New International Version
This type of translation is at the farthest extent of the spectrum. This translation takes the original text and translates it into words that is super easy to understand. This type of translation is also called free-text translation because of the freedom that the translators have in converting the original manuscripts into modern language.
Examples: The Message.
1. This is a link to the primary source article. 2. All links above go to the respective translations of John 3:16
That simply tells you the types of translations there are. There are many different types of bibles, however, each of which may have multiple translations.
For example, the Life Application Bible (which I heartily recommend, by the way) can be found using the NIV, NKJV, or NLT translations. While the translation of the sacred text is common among bibles, the extra notes regarding the text vary greatly.
There's one specific translation that I want to use as an example. It's called the Apostolic Bible. It's a type of "polyglot" bible (which literally means many tongues, or multiple languages) that contains both the original language and the English translation. (It also contains the Strong's Concordance reference number for each word.)
It's a fantastic example of a word-for-word translation: