Essential, Pro, and Business Editions

Understanding the Translation Process

This article is for Account Owners and Project Managers who are using one of the following self-service plans: Essential, Basic, Pro, or Business.

Before you start, here's a high level summary of how translating projects works in Smartling.


The Smartling platform prepares your content for professional translation. To support this process, Smartling divides your content into small units called strings. A string can be a single word, a phrase, a sentence, or even multiple sentences. Most strings are phrases or single sentences.

Translating Within Context

Translators work on the strings, one at a time, but within the context of the entire document. For example, when translating a paragraph, the Translator translates each sentence individually, but within the context of that paragraph, and the document, so the translation of the whole paragraph will make sense for the completely translated document. Translators perform their work in the Smartling computer-aided translation (CAT) tool. 

Translators do NOT download your documents to translate them, but rather, all the work happens in your Smartling account, in a browser, with all the tools they need, and all the information about your project at their fingertips. In most cases, special formatting is automatically retained. This includes formatting in business documents (such as bold or italic formatting), HTML markup, and even code variables (a.k.a placeholders).

HTML and variables are especially handled to protect them from the translators and to avoid errors in your site or app when you use the final translation.

Resource Files

If you are uploading standard resource files (iOS, Android, JSON, YAML, Gettext, etc.) Smartling automatically protects and retains the formatting and special syntax. If you are uploading Excel or CSV files it's important to review our guides for Excel and CSV. By default we'll capture every string in the document and send it for translation. If you have anything in your file that shouldn't be translated, you'll need to format your file following our guidelines to control how the file is handled.

Smartling stores your translations in your account, in a Translation Memory so you don't have to translate the same strings again when you make updates to your content.

If Translators have questions and need clarification about your content they can open issues and you will receive a notification from Smartling. Please respond to these as quickly as possible. Failure to do so can delay your order.

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