The CAT Tool

Insert, Remove, or Move Tags and Placeholders

This article is for Translators and Editors.

Formatting and order of content in a translated string may need to be different from its source. In this article, learn how to insert, remove, or move HTML tags and placeholders while translating in the Smartling CAT tool.

Tags and Placeholders

  Tags Placeholders

Represents inline HTML in source content.

Tags do not need to be translated, simply inserted into the correct place within the target.

By default, HTML tag attributes are captured as part of the tag itself and therefore are not translatable.

The content owner may format the file with directives to include the attribute for translation.

Represents dynamic content that doesn't need to be translated. For example, content (from web or mobile apps that use "variables" in the code) that may change, such as a user's name.

Placeholders do not need to be translated, simply inserted into the target.

  • Code view: HTML tag such as <b></b>
  • Simplified view: HTML tag is, instead, represented by a number, such as 1, 2, 3, etc.

"Hello {{name}}, welcome to our website!"  

CAT Tool Examples
  • Code view: code.png
  • Simplified view: Numbers highlighted in gray, such as: 1_1.png

Characters highlighted in gray, such as: Screen_Shot_2017-11-13_at_4.57.13_PM.png

Insert Formatting Tags

Inserting formatting tags does not work for .IDML files.

You can add the following formatting tags in the target (even if they were not originally in the source):

  • Bold: <b></b>
  • Italics: <em></em>
  • Subscript: <sub></sub>
  • Superscript: <sup></sup>

Click the desired button. The tags will automatically be inserted wherever your cursor is in the target.


Copy Tags or Placeholders

There are multiple ways to copy tags and placeholders from source content to the translation field in the CAT tool:

  • Use the keyboard shortcut command + shift + I. (Using just command + I will copy the tags and content.)
    • Using the arrow shortcut will also copy source tags and content into the target field.
  • Start typing a tag or placeholder that exists in the source field, and the tool will suggest a tag to insert into the translation field.
  • Click on a tag or placeholder in the source field.

Want to see the code view of a tag? Click the tag toggle Screen_Shot_2017-11-13_at_4.45.12_PM.png in the editor toolbar.

Insert Next Tags or Placeholders

The Smartling default shortcut for Insert next tag is command/CTRL + G.
The Smartling default shortcut for Insert next placeholder is command/CTRL + E.

It's also possible to use the same shortcut to insert both tags AND placeholders. Use the Insert next tag or placeholder shortcut to insert both. (You must configure the shortcut in Settings > Keyboard Preferences.)

Let's use the following example where tags precede the placeholder: <b></b> {placeholder}

In the above example, when using the "Insert next tag or placeholder" shortcut, it will first insert the tags, followed by the placeholders when the shortcut is used for a second time.

Missing Tags

Any tags that have not yet been placed in the translation field will be shown with a red outline in the source. As you add tags to the translation field, the red outline will disappear from the source. This is currently only available in code view for tags, and not available for the simplified view.

Move Tags and Placeholders

To rearrange the order of tags or placeholders in translated strings, click on the tag in the translation field and drag it to a new location:


Tag re-ordering is currently not allowed for PowerPoint, InDesign, and DITA documents

Automatically Align Tags

At the moment, the Place tags feature is only available for French translations, and it is only enabled if:

  • There are tags in the source
  • There is some content translated

Once you've translated all of the content into French, if you click Place tags, the application will attempt to place all tags from the source, in the correct place(s) of the target. If you think there are tags that should be moved, click and drag the tag to its correct position.


You can set up a keyboard shortcut for Place tags via Settings > Keyboard Shortcuts > Insert in Editor > Automatically Place Tags.

Delete Tags or Placeholders

To delete tags or placeholders in translated strings, place your cursor in front of the tag or placeholder you want to remove, and click delete.

If tags exist in the source string that has not been inserted into the translated string, you will get an error upon save. 

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