Translating special-format files

Translating files in special and less common formats is a natural part of the development of the digital society. While Word, Excel, and PowerPoint or their analogue products are generally enough to satisfy the needs of the average computer user, many professionals increasingly use industry-specific applications. And these, of course, come with proprietary file formats.


Before you copy...

If your texts are stored in files that are in a less widely known format, such as JSON or PO, this does not necessarily mean that you need to copy the texts into Word or Excel before sending them to be translated. The same goes for WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal website texts as well as Google AdWords ads. It is smarter to translate original files.

Which file formats can our translation team handle?

In this article, we discuss the file types that we translate and talk a bit about where and why the different formats are used. However, if your file format of choice is not listed below, feel free to contact us anyway before you start reformatting your text, and we will do our best to find a way to translate your files as they are.

Translating document files

The most common file formats among the texts we receive are DOC, DOCX, DOT, DOTX, DOCM, DOTM, RTF, and TXT. We also translate ODT files created in OpenOffice. These are all text file formats, the first six of which are used in Microsoft Word, including for templates and macro-enabled documents. The DOCX format is usually used for a variety of reports, user manuals, procedure descriptions, and research papers.

Translating document filesis not rocket science, but even handling files in these formats requires a bit of know-how. Ideally, document files should be translated using computer-assisted translation (CAT) software. When translating Word documents, it is often critical that the translation be formatted exactly like the source text. With CAT tools, retaining the original formatting could not be easier, as it is done automatically. If necessary, the translation can also be provided using a different font and font size. In addition, upon request, we can provide the translation in two columns, with the source and target text presented side by side.

Translating spreadsheet files

We also translate XLS, XLSX, XLT, XLTX, XLSM, and XLTM files. These are formats used by the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software. Need an Excel file that contains HTML code translated? Then you have come to the right place. We can even translate large collections of product descriptions. Our text processing and CAT tools can detect repetitions in the texts, making the translation service that much cheaper for you.


Translating presentation files

Neither are we strangers to translating files in PPT, PPTX, POT, POTX, or POTM formats. These formats are used by the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation software program.

The formatting of PowerPoint files is 100% retainable, but when translating into German, French, or Russian, for example, you should be prepared for the translation being significantly longer than the source text and possibly not fitting perfectly within the borders of the slides. In that case it may be necessary to change the size of the text.

In addition, you should review any tables and images copied into presentation files. If they are not editable, they need to be processed before translation.

Translating Google files

Translating Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides files is also increasingly common. These are, respectively, the formats used by Google’s web-based text editing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications of the same name.

If your Google documents need to be updated regularly, we can set up our translation software to download your updates from Google Drive. This way, you avoid the trouble of having to send us the link to the document again each time, as we will be notified automatically of any new translation jobs.

Translating web and software development files

When it comes to translating web and software development files, it is important to provide the translation agency with as much background information as possible. If the texts relate to an application, you may want to give the translator access to a test version of the app. If this is not possible, it is advisable to include a set of screenshots for reference. In addition, it might be helpful to add a brief explanation to more complex strings. While you will probably know your application inside out, the translator may never have come into contact with that product or service before.

XML files

XML is a markup language format used for structuring data and sharing it between different applications and via the Internet, as well as designing user interfaces for Android applications, for example. XML files can be seen as a text-based database. Since XML files are formatted as text documents, they can be viewed and edited with various text editors.

When we translate XML files, we replace the source text with text in the target language, while fully retaining the structure of your files. Given that XML files are often created without considering whether they need to be translated at some point, it may be necessary to process the files to prepare them for translation. If so, you will need to discuss this with your translation provider.

XLIFF files

The XLIFF file format is used, among other things, for translating WordPress websites. XLIFF is an XML-based standard format for sharing bilingual files between different translation applications. WordPress is the world’s most popular web platform, which allows you to customise your website with countless useful plugins and widgets. At Transly, if you need to have your WordPress website translated, you can just send us the XLIFF files, instead of having to copy your web content into Word. If you are not sure how to do that, we can help you with that too.

HTML files

Transly also translates HTM, HTML, XHTM, and XHTML file formats. The HTML markup language is used for creating websites and formatting their content. HTML files are saved in a standard text format and contain tags. HTML files can also be opened and edited with text editors. As with translating XML files, translating HTML files requires proper pre-processing. Smart pre-processing allows us to translate meta tags as well.

JSON files

We also translate JSON files, which are often used for localising various applications. JSON files contain data structures and objects in the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format. This format is generally used for programming Ajax web applications. JSON files are text-based, human-readable, and can be edited with a text editor. If you need to have JSON files translated, it is important to give the translator as much background information about the application as possible.


YAML and YML files

The YAML (YAML Ain’t Markup Language) file format is used for data serialisation. YAML files are used, for example, for translating Ruby on Rails websites.

CSV files

CSV stands for comma-separated values, and CSV files are generally used for transmitting data between databases in spreadsheet applications. CSV files are also used for translating websites created with Magento.

PO files

PO and POT file formats are also common in website translation. These formats are used for saving UI texts that need to be translated when creating multi-language software with the GNU gettext localisation system. PO files are used, for example, for translating WordPress strings and templates.

INI files

The INI file format is primarily used for storing the core settings of various programmes, but our translation agency also uses it for translating website texts in the Joomla content management system, for example.

Other software files

Transly also translates (Java).properties files. These are mainly used for storing configuration data in Java applications, but, because of their simplicity and readability, they have also become popular for holding localisation texts. WIKI files are used for creating wiki sites and are also familiar to translation agencies.

(Mozilla).dtd files are perfectly translatable for us as well. These are generally used for defining elements contained in application files written in the XML markup language, but also for localising Mozilla applications (Firefox and its extensions, Thunderbird, etc.).

Files with the filename extensions .ts, .catkeys, .strings, .resx, or .rc are related to specific applications or operation systems and can also be translated directly by Transly. These are respectively used for storing and localising texts used in applications created with the Qt application framework, Haiku OS applications, Mac OS X and iOS applications, applications created with Microsoft’s .NET Framework software platform, and applications created with the Borland C++ and Microsoft Visual Studio programming environments.

We can also translate files in the PLIST format, which is an XML-based format created by Apple for storing application data, such as user settings.

In addition, we translate DESKTOP files, which are used for displaying information about a programme in the application menu of Linux- and Unix-based operation systems.

And, of course, we can also handle LANG files, which are used for storing user interface language information in a variety of applications (including Skype).

Translating design and layout files

Quite often our translation agency also receives files that need to be processed before they can be edited.

Translating image files

The JPG and PNG formats are often used by clients to send scanned or photographed files in for translation. However, in order to be convert such files into digital text, you have to use OCR (optical character recognition), which, depending on the scanning quality, may not produce the best results. Thus, preparing such files is often difficult – but not impossible.

Translating PDF files

We also frequently receive PDF files for translation. The PDF format is used, for example, for various catalogues, user manuals, safety data sheets, and brochures. It is a common standard format for all kinds of documents and publications. PDF files are often created from existing documents. If this is the case, it is better to send your translation provider the original files.

Translating design files

Design files, such as IDML (INDD), ICML, and PSD files, are considerably easier to translate than PDFs. These formats are used for files created with various Adobe applications: respectively, the Adobe InDesign desktop publishing software (INDD files are converted into IDML format for translation), the Adobe InCopy text editing software, and the Adobe Photoshop graphics software.

TAG and SVG files

TAG files are also translatable. These are used by the QuarkXPress desktop publishing software platform, which used to be the leading application in the advertising and printing industry. Moreover, we can translate files in the SVG format too. This XML-based format is used for creating two-dimensional vector graphics.

Translating translation software files

As a translation agency, of course, we are no strangers to translation software. We work with SDLXLIFF and TTX files daily. These are bilingual file formats used by the SDL Trados Studio translation software suite. And we are equally familiar with the MQXLIFF bilingual file format used by MemoQ translation software – so just send your files in to us and we will handle the rest.


Translating technical files

Other frequently translated file formats include DITA and DITAMAP. These two formats are used in the XML-based data model DITA for preparing technical documents, and they enable the convenient reuse of content from previously prepared documents.

We have also translated DBK files. This is the format of the DocBook semantic markup language, which is primarily used for writing technical documents and software documentation.

Transly can handle XTG files as well. The XTG format is used in the programme TreeGraph 2 for building phylogenetic trees. XTG files store structured bioinformatics data.

Translating subtitle and video files.

SRT, SBV, SUB, and VTT are the most commonly used text file formats for storing subtitles and other timed information related to videos. Subtitle files are supported by a number of video formats, such as DivX and DVD, and are used by various video playback programmes. These files are often translated by translation agencies specialised in subtitling.

Translating text formatting files.

MD and MARKDOWN files, too, can be translated. These are Markdown markup language formats, which are often used, for example, for quickly formatting and writing text in readme files and online forums.

Translating e-books

Finally, we can also translate EPUB files. EPUB is an XML-based format for electronic books and publications. EPUB is currently the most widely supported e-book format.


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