Translating documents

It has been a while since i’ve wrote here. So.. let’s relight the candle.

I have a Microsoft Word document. How can I translate it? Or just some words from it.

Well, you can look online for a freelancer or a company who provides translation services. But that costs money… and quite some time. Or you can ask your friend Moe to help. But… yeah…

If you are on a recent version of Office, you might have noticed a “Translate” button in the “Review” ribbon tab. This is a standard feature provided by Microsoft to help. But it doesn’t really.

01Now we have a better option, to use an Office (Word, Excel… etc) plugin called “SDL Language Cloud – Translation for Documents” (an incredibly long name, I know). Besides the fact that it actually works… let’s see how it can help us.


Install the plugin

Open MS Word and “Insert” -> Add-ins (Store) -> “SDL Language Cloud – Translation for Documents”. You will need an SDL Language Cloud subscription also (free trials available).

Start translating

What this plugin does is to use the automatic machine translation engines to send you complete translations back. Which you can edit afterwards to your liking, if needed.

translate selected textThis can be done for selected text or for the entire document at once (preserving formatting, pictures… etc).

Translating pieces of text

Select the text, choose the From and To languages (no autodetection) and decide if you want the translation to replace the text or come afterwards (so you can still see them somehow in parallel).

Translating the entire document

Switching to the option for entire document translation brings up a new possibility: usage of dictionaries (eg: terminology).

translate document optionBut first, it’s nice that what this does is create a new document in the destination language. It does seem to take a while, maybe several minutes.

About the dictionary, this is very useful if you have a document with some words you would like to be translated always in a certain manner (or finalnot translated at all.. such as brand names which are actually normal words) or company taglines. In order to do this one must use the Language Cloud online to define the dictionary and then use it in this plugin.

That’s it.

All in all… much better than the Microsoft Translate option in Office… which does not work for selected text and for the entire document it just opens it in a web view from where you can’t even download it.

Key things:

  • Works in regular Word application and in the Online version
  • Translating pieces of text is easy, “in place” or “appending” to your text
  • Translating documents preserves the formatting, pictures, tables etc
  • You can use dictionaries to make sure certain things are always translated as prescribed (terminology)

Disclaimer: I work for SDL and this is how I came to learn about this plugin.


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