Translating Excel files in Wordfast

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This article describes how to translate Excel files in Wordfast.

TIP: Always work on copies of your documents!

There are several ways to go about translating an Excel file:

Method described in the manual

Open the Excel file (and ONLY this file!) and place the cursor on the first cell to be translated. Open a blank Word document, and with Excel remaining open in the background, press Alt+Down.

Translate as usual.

When you hit Alt+Down, the target translation replaces the source on the excel sheet.

Remember to save both files.

When you finish translating, NO NEED to clean up! The target is already in the excel file. Be sure to save the uncleaned bilingual Word file – you may need it in case you run into trouble.

This method works well with simple, no-frills excel files.

TIP: If your file has several sheets, you need to open a NEW blank Word doc for each sheet.

TIP: It *can* be very helpful to change one of the settings in Pandora's Box. The change will enable you to translate a column from top to bottom, rather than working your way along a row from left to right. This is very helpful if you have to translate just one column in an entire spreadsheet for instance.

  • Call up the Wordfast set-up interface (TMs, Terminology, Tools etc)
  • Click on Set Up
  • Click on PB
  • Scroll down until you find Excel_ByColumns
  • Change it to ExcelBy Columns
  • Enable PB
  • Close the box

Disadvantages of this method:

  • Doesn't always work well with complicated files (funky formatting, merged cells, many columns, etc). Target text can end up in the wrong place and needs to be fixed later (time consuming!).
  • You can't see the text below the current segment – so you may need to toggle back and forth between windows (unless you have 2 monitors…)
  • You can't "jump around" in the file and go back and forth to random segments that need to be changed. If you're like me, you understand the text better at the end, and inevitably go back to the start to change some things that you figured out later on … this is fine when translating in Word – but can cause major havoc when using the "manual method". In short – problems can arise during the proofreading/editing stage.
  • Changes made later on directly in the excel file are not updated to the TM.
  • Segmentation problems
  • Can't use Auto-translate (as far as I know…)

Alternative Method #1

I used this method for a while, with relative success. The workflow is rather lengthy… but works well!

Open the excel file and "Save As" tab delimited text only (.txt)

Open the resulting file in Word, save as .doc, translate, proofread and edit to your heart's content.

TIP: I have noticed that some odd things may happen to certain characters when converting to text. For example, "quotes" may get turned into ""double quotes"" and you may need to do a find and replace operation to fix those before you start translating.

When you have completely finished and polished your translation, clean up and update the TM.

Now, open the Excel file (a copy that you made previously of course!), open a blank Word doc and proceed as per the method described in the manual. You should have 100% matches for the whole document.

Retranslate the whole document from the TM.

Alternative method #2

Open the Excel file, and copy and paste the columns directly into Word – this results in a Word table that you translate as usual.

TIP: If you have many columns with lots of content, try splitting it up into smaller chunks (one Word file for columns A-C, another for D-F, another for G-I, etc.) Otherwise, you won't be able to see your segments very well on the screen as they will be too narrow!

TIP: If the document is really long, try splitting it up into chunks of 100 lines. I have noticed that Wordfast slows down when translating REALLY long tables, so shorter tables seem to work better for me.

When translation is finished and polished, clean up and update the TM.

Copy and paste the cleaned target columns back to the excel file, overwriting the source.

TIP: you may need to reset fonts/sizes and remove borders after pasting back

TIP: be sure to double check that you have the same number of lines/columns

Potential Issue to be aware of and solution

If there were line breaks within the original cells before you pasted into Word, you will not be able to paste those cells back into Excel at the end of translation. Excel will think that each line break is a separate cell, resulting in a big mess!

Now calm down and try this – I have tested it and it works. Thanks to Carlos Montilla for posting this solution!

  1. On your clean Word file, Find and Replace ^l with XCXCXC (or any other strange string of letters).
  2. Now copy the text from Word and paste in Excel. Make sure you still have the same amount of columns and lines as the original text.
  3. Using the Excel Find and Replace, replace XCXCXC with Alt+010 (with the cursor in the "replace" field, hold down the 'Alt' button and type the numbers '010'. The field will remain blank, it looks like nothing happened, but in fact, it's there – just blank)
  4. Now you have your text back in Excel, with line breaks as they should be!

Discussion related to this article

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Translating Excel files in Wordfast

Egils Turks Identity Verified
Local time: 18:25
English to Latvian
+ ...
Instead of tinkering with Pandora box just hide the ColumnsNov 27, 2010

If you have to tanslate just one of the Columns all you need is to hide others in the Sheet, and that's it. Now a cursor after you have translated a cell will jump to the cell below.

[Edited at 2010-11-27 10:58 GMT]


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