Translating Content

Microsoft Office Documents

In addition to apps and websites, Smartling can translate Microsoft Office files used by the Microsoft Office suite; Microsoft Word (.docx & .doc), Excel (.xlsx), Powerpoint (.pptx).

Preparing Microsoft Office Files for Translation

It is important to note that Smartling ingests all content for translation in Microsoft Word and Excell files (excluding tab names). To exclude the tab name from translation, see Exclude Content from Translation and Restore.

For Powerpoint files, Smartling ingests all content in text boxes. By default, this means all text box content on the slides. You can choose to translate content in the Master Slide and/or speaker notes, upon file upload.

Remember: text that is part of an image cannot be captured for translation.

The translated Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, or Excel file will contain the translated content only, as the source content is overwritten.

If you would like the translated Microsoft Word or Excel file to include the source content as well as the translated content, simply copy the source content in the file, and apply a NOTRANSLATE style to the first copy of the source content (see Exclude Content using Styles below for details). The translations will overwrite the second copy and you will have both source and translation in one file.

This functionality is not available in Microsoft Powerpoint.

Excel: For more options in file prep. you can save as CSV UTF-8 and apply file directives outlined here. The article also outlines how to import your translated CSV back to Excel.

Strings and Segments

To translate your business documents, Smartling parses the content into strings - a translation unit. Parsing differs depending on the document type.

  • MS Word: Each paragraph is captured as a string. A new paragraph or line break creates a new string.
  • Excel: Each cell of the spreadsheet is captured as a string in the Smartling dashboard, including the sheet tab name. Data as a result of a formula is not captured and must be typed into the cell without any formulas. Numbers are also not captured unless it is formatted as a text from the format dropdown.


  • PowerPoint: Each text box on a PowerPoint slide is captured as a string. The strings are arranged in order of when each text box was created, not where it is placed on the slide.

Larger strings may be further divided into segments, only visible in the CAT tool. A segment is usually a sentence, with a sentence-ending punctuation mark such as a period (.), exclamation point (!) or question mark (?) creating a new segment.

Exclude Content using Styles

In Microsoft Word and Excel files, you can mark content that you don't want to be translated by using Styles. To do so, simply create a new style called NOTRANSLATE, highlight the text or click the cell you want to exclude, and apply the NOTRANSLATE style to that text/cell. 

Creating the NOTRANSLATE Style - Microsoft Word

As of the latest update to this article, the ability to create styles is only available in the desktop version of Microsoft Word. The web based version of Word does not support the creation of new styles for a document.

Create a style with the name NOTRANSLATE (as pictured) and select the style type Paragraph or Character. Other options should be set to match your regular text. 


Applying the NOTRANSLATE Style - Microsoft Word

To apply the style, highlight the text you want to exclude and select NOTRANSLATE from the style ribbon.


Creating the NOTRANSLATE Style - Microsoft Excel

  1. Click the down arrow under Format and select New Cell Style.
  2. Untick the Style Property checkboxes and set the Style Name to NOTRANSLATE.
  3. If you want to visually mark excluded text in your document, click Format, go to the Fill tab, and select a color. Click OK.

Applying the NOTRANSLATE Style - Microsoft Excel

To apply the style, highlight the cells you want to exclude and select NOTRANSLATE from the style ribbon.

Translating Microsoft Office Files

Ensure to create a Files Project for file translation management.

Once you're ready to translate the file, create a Job. All content in the file will be ingested for translation.

For Excel Files: To exclude the tab name from translation, see Exclude Content from Translation and Restore.

For Powerpoint Files: To get an idea of what the layout and display of the translated file will be, you can download a pseudo translated file. From here you can decide if any adjustments are necessary to the source content.

Translators will see the Microsoft Word or Excel file displayed as dynamic Visual Context from within the CAT Tool. If you would like to provide Translators with even more Visual Context, upload an image of the content's message. 

You can also provide instructions to provide context. Additionally, attaching a JPG or PDF document for reference can provide context.  The Translators can download the attachment in the CAT Tool.

Furthermore, applying character limits to strings can help ensure translations are kept to a certain length. 

When translations are complete, download the published translations to your locale drive.

Microsoft Office files do not support multi-lingual output, so you can only download one translated locale per file.

Troubleshooting Translated Microsoft Office Files

When viewing and deploying translated Microsoft Office Files, it is important to remember that most fonts do not contain the characters necessary to display content in every language.

When you upload a file to Smartling, only the text of the file is captured and translated. This means that, when you download your translated file, it’s font may not support all the new characters. These characters will be displayed as empty boxes, sometimes referred to as ‘tofu’.

If you open a translated file and it’s full of tofu, it doesn’t mean that the file is corrupted. It may just be that your current font can’t display the translation. To view these files, you need to have a font with the required characters.

Choosing an appropriate final font for your translated files is an important design decision, but if you just want to check your translations, a good place to start is with Google’s Noto collection of fonts. Noto fonts are available to support most languages and scripts.

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