Inserting a translation from Trados into a column in Excel

Oh, the joys of translating Excel spreadsheets in Trados! As I’m sure you know, some clients will send you Excel spreadsheets with the source text in one column and want you to enter your translation in another column.

If you’re like me, this is how you’ll go about it: Step 1) Get annoyed you’ve been sent an Excel file; Step 2) Create your translation in Trados; Step 3) Export the translation and manually copy and paste it into the client’s spreadsheet; Step 4) Spend all day complaining to yourself about how annoying and frustrating the whole process is.

Maybe you’re thinking, “it’s just copying and pasting, what’s the big deal?” Well, if there are 36 tabs in the spreadsheet… it can get a little tedious!

Inserting a translation directly into a specific column using Trados

It turns out there is another way! That’s right, Trados has a special feature that enables you to insert your translation directly into the column of your choice! (Ten years of frustration… all for nothing!)

As with Trados’ other advanced features, this takes a bit of patience to get the hang of. In its default settings, Trados prioritizes “standard” Excel files, so you’ll need to fiddle with it a bit to create a “bilingual spreadsheet” (just so we’re clear, though, the source file won’t change at all, that’s just the name Trados uses for an Excel file divided into several columns for different languages):

  • From the Trados Welcome page, drag and drop the file you want to translate and click on “Translate as single document”. The dialogue box will open as usual.
  • Click on “Advanced”.
  • Next, click on “File types”. You’ll see Trados can translate several versions of Microsoft Excel, as well as the option “Bilingual Excel”. You have two choices:
    • Either uncheck the boxes for all versions of Excel EXCEPT the bilingual format, which will force the program to only use this set-up;
    • Or prioritize the bilingual format. To do this, click on “Bilingual Excel” in the list, then, from the right-hand column, click on “Move up” until it appears at the top, above all the other versions of Excel.
Here, I’ve used both options, just in case!

Selecting the column your translation needs to be exported to

Next, we need to fine-tune the details: In the same settings window, but this time in the left-hand column, click on “Bilingual Excel” to open the options dialogue box. We’ll be focusing on the Common tab, as this is what determines which Excel column contains the source text and which column the translation will be inserted into (configured according to the contents of your file).

Various options are available, including the ability to specify the column that detemines the cell character limit (length limitation column), if your file has one. If you specify this and then go over the character limit, Trados will kindly let you know by displaying an error mark for the segment concerned.

Dealing with bugs

Normally, these are the only settings you will need to change. Sometimes, however, Trados still manages to display text from the columns you don’t want to translate (columns A and E in the example above). If this happens, I recommend hiding them in the original Excel file before you import it to Trados (right-click on the column and select Hide). That should solve the problem.

Click “OK” and finish importing your file as normal. And that’s it! When you export your translation, it will appear in the column you selected (column F in the example above).

(OK, so I deleted a large part of the text for confidentiality reasons, but you get the idea!)

Finally, if you run into any issues along the way—if, for example, the font size in the source document inexplicably appears ten times larger in the target document (yes, that has really happened to me before!)—check your version of Trados is fully up to date (Help => Check for Updates). As the old adage goes, “Have you tried switching it off and back on again?” That’s normally enough to sort out most IT problems. The updates usually take care of the rest.

Trados 2022 and multilingual Excel files

Note that the screenshots I’ve used come from my version of Trados 2022, but the process is the same for older versions. Note also that if you use Trados 2022, you will have access to a new feature—the option to process multilingual Excel files. Pretty handy if you regularly work with spreadsheets that contain more than two languages. You can find this feature in the Trados app store under Multilingual Excel FileType. I haven’t tried it out yet, so, if you have, I’d be interested to hear what you think!

This is a translation of one of my French articles (“Traduire un fichier Excel bilingue dans Trados!“), kindly provided by the amazing Georgie Scott from Cf Language Solutions!

Categories: Trados


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *