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Translating in Word

There is a lot of stuff that you can do when translating in Word. Although it was originally designed as a tool for writers, there are a lot of things that you can use to translate, handle terminology, review translation memories…

I tried to present a few examples using the functions described previously. I assume that you have a basic knowledge of CATs, as found on this web site and that you have read the other pages. (There are other ways to do the actions I describe and probably better ways too. What is explained below is easy to do and works, but if you have a better way, feel free to share.)

In all case, try with COPIES of your original documents. I am giving those information “as is”, with the hope that you will find them useful, but I take no responsibility whatsoever if you mess up a document, end up late to deliver a translation or anything else. Those are data. Up to you to evaluate, use them … (If you find a mistake, it is purely unintentional, and I would appreciate if you let me know)

Hopefully this page will give you a few ideas:

1. You found an online bilingual glossary that is very interesting for your job.

(Usual layout, 2-3 columns) It would be great to use it as a glossary with your CAT, but it is in HTML, and the format won’t allow you to import it in your CAT glossary system (Wordfast gloss, MultiTerm, …).

  • a. Select the text of the html page (Click on the page, Ctrl + a, Ctrl + c)
  • b. Open a new Word document and paste the content (Ctrl + v)
  • c. Save as text *.txt (F12, change the save as type accordingly)
  • d. Close the file and open the text file in Word. As you will see, all the HTML formatting, the pictures, the colours,…are gone.
  • e. Look at the structure of the text, how the columns are separated:
    * If you have a table, delete the columns you don’t need, select the table, convert it to text with <tab> as a separator, do a couple F&R to remove the extraneous paragraph marks (find ^p^p, replace with ^p, for instance), remove the lines you don’t need (title, headings) and save. Done, you can import that in most glossary systems.
    * If the columns are separated by tabs, use some F&R to make sure there is only 1 tab between each column.
    (i.e.: English terms<tab>French terms<tab>definition), remove the lines you don’t need (title, headings) and save. Done, you can import that in most glossary systems.
    * If the columns are separated (god forbid) by spaces and that there are no tabs in the document –most likely not, otherwise the guy would not have separated the glossary with spaces. Use F&R to replace 3 consecutives spaces by a tab, then, still with F&R make sure that there is only 1 tab between each column. If there are items separated by less then 3 spaces, replace them by a tab manually. Convert it into a table. You will see immediately if there is a problem. (Like one column too much…). Correct it. Do a few F&R to remove all the extraneous spaces, remove the data you don’t need, convert the table to a tab-delimited format, and you are done, ready to import.

It depends on the size of the glossary and how it is formatted, but you will normally be able to convert an online HTML glossary to a Wordfast glossary in less then half an hour. Even if you do not use a CAT, you will find it convenient to have your glossaries in that format, as you can open it in Excel and search it at will while you are translating.

2. You want to review your tab delimited TM.

Open it in Word, select it (except the header) and convert it to a table. Arrange the columns to have as much viewing space for the language pairs, apply a light background to these columns to make it more comfortable to the eyes, and review.

Whenever you find a mistake, you can search the text to see if the mistake is not repeated in several parts of the TM, and correct it with F&R. When you are done with the review, select the table, convert it back to tab delimited, and save as text.

Alternatively, open the TM in Excel and do the same. Whatever you are the most comfortable with. (Warning, Excel supports only 65,000 lines, so if your TM is longer, you will loose data).

3. You have a text document neatly arranged with paragraph marks and little formatting, like a marketing text, to translate. You would like to be able to type the translation without overwriting the text and still be able to see the text paragraph by paragraph.

Convert it into a 1-column table based on the paragraph marks. Reduce the size of the table to half of your screen. Select it, and with Table/Insert, add a column to the right. Now you can read the source on the left column and translate in the right. If you like to overwrite when translating, select the source column, copy it, then select the target column and paste. Now, you have the same text twice.

Format the table so that it is comfortable to the eyes by adjusting the thickness of the borders (Table/Table properties-borders and shading), and applying a light background colour to the source column. You can also apply a colour to the general background from the menu Format/Background.


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