Best Ways to Translate an Excel File - 2021 Update

by Shu Ni Lim Shu Ni Lim 6 minutes to read

how to translate excel fileTranslating Excel documents requires special care because they contain unique formulas and functions that instruct the text on how to behave. These functions allow businesses to organize their data, visualize trends, and perform quick calculations. Now, how do you translate Excel file while preserving your valuable data?

Today, we will explore the 4 best ways to translate an Excel spreadsheet file.

Method #1: Translate Excel file natively with Microsoft Translator

Microsoft Excel has a built-in translator you can use for simple translations (same machine translator can be found within Word when translating Word documents and PowerPoint presentations).

First, open your Excel spreadsheet and select the text you wish to translate. Then, on the toolbar, select Review > Translate.

how to translate excel spreadsheet

The translator menu will appear on the right, where you can set the source language and the target language.

translate excel document to spanish

Keep in mind that the translation will only appear on the menu. It does not automatically replace the original text in the Excel file. To prompt this, you must click Insert or manually copy-paste the translated segments into their respective cells.

Important Info

  • Excel’s translator is a machine translation tool (read more about the best machine translation software), which is prone to errors and inconsistent tone. As such, the translated copy is often not suitable for professional use.
  • This method requires a lot of manual work involving copy-pasting. If you have a massive Excel workbook to translate, there are better options for you further down this list.
  • Only suitable if you want to translate a text for your personal reading and understanding
  • The built-in translator in Excel does not preserve the functions and formulas affecting the textual makeup of different cells. However, if you are an advanced Excel user, you can do this by downloading the Functions Translator add-in. This tool will give you access to a categorized list of English functions and their corresponding functions in other languages.

Method #2: Upload the Excel spreadsheet to Google Translate

Is it even a complete translation guide if I didn’t mention Google Translate? Shout-out to all things that are fast and free.

Visit Google Translate on your browser and click on the Documents tab. You know the drill after that… select your source language and target language. Then, upload your Excel spreadsheet. This method works for both .xls and .xlsx files.

translate excel sheet

Important Info

  • Translations generated by Google Translate must be reviewed and edited for accuracy and consistency. That’s why businesses generally do not accept Google translations for work purposes.
  • The translated copy can only be viewed on your browser and cannot be downloaded as an Excel file. You would need to transfer the text to a new Excel sheet manually.
  • Free translation platforms present certain risks, such as data leakage. Never upload documents with sensitive information onto these sites because you can never be certain where they will end up.
  • Only suitable if you want to translate a text for your personal reading and understanding (this method can be used when translating pdf documents as well).

If curious to learn more - here are some eye-opening machine translation statistics and even more - here is a detailed guide about how MT has come so far.

Method #3: Hire a translation agency or translator

No matter how advanced artificial intelligence has become, nothing beats the work of human translators in capturing the nuances of a language. Rather than using machine translation, many businesses outsource their translators from freelancer platforms, such as and Upwork.

Before hiring a translator, you need to consider the language pairs you need, such as English to Spanish, or English to Chinese. For Excel translation, you must also ask whether the translator is trained to handle Excel functions, so that the final copy they deliver is free of formatting errors.

Otherwise, you may still need to spend time copying and pasting the translation into a new Excel file.

Important Info

  • This method is more expensive than others on this list.
  • If you need to translate an Excel document into different languages, you may need to enlist the help of multiple translators to account for all the language pairs. This adds to your translation costs.
  • Certain features within Microsoft Excel demand advanced computing knowledge. A translator with these added skills may cost extra.

Method #4: Use a professional translation software

Using professional translation software like Redokun is more cost-effective because it employs both human and artificial intelligence in translating Excel files. These are commonly known as computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, whereby the software helps speed up the translation process in many ways.

translate excel file online

How exactly does this work, you ask? With cloud-based translation tools like Redokun, you and your team can

  • translate versatile documents such as all the Office documents, subtitles, XML documents, and even InDesign.
  • create and track multiple translation projects simultaneously.
  • collaborate remotely with internal or external team members.
  • create, store, and access frequently used terminologies for more efficient and consistent translations. Read this detailed 101 Translation Memories guide or dive a bit deeper by reading how this type of feature can directly help you achieve greater productivity.
  • save 99.98% in translation costs by reducing the translator’s workload.
  • preserve the formatting of your Excel documents. Styles, lists, charts – leave all these details to the translation software.
  • send revised documents to your translator without disrupting completed translations. This comes in handy when you need to make minor changes to the original Excel spreadsheet when the translation project is still ongoing.

Microsoft Excel may be difficult to use for some people, but Redokun is not! You won’t need to spend extra time or money on training your people to use our translation tool.

If you want to learn more about translation s0ftware - here is a detailed guide about it, even more read all about its software  features, benefits, and even how to choose a translation software.

Important Info

  • Most dedicated translation tools are subscription-based. If you’re not ready to make a commitment, you can make use of free trials to see whether you’re comfortable with the software. In fact, you can click here to try Redokun for free today! No credit card required.

A Quick Overview

Now for the most important question: which Excel translation method should you choose? If you need to distribute the translated document to an important stakeholder, like a potential customer or a business partner, the best choice is to use a professional translation tool like Redokun (here is a list with the best translation software in 2021 and how to choose a tms that suits your needs).

Moreover, the copy you send to your stakeholders must also be properly formatted. The right translation software should take care of that. Here is a summary of the four ways to translate an Excel file:

how to translate excel file

Eager to learn more - make sure to read all about the right way to translate pdf files.

Till next time,

Shu Ni

Shu Ni Lim
Shu Ni Lim

Shu Ni has worked as a marketing executive for various global consumer electronics brands before shifting her focus to content writing.

Now at Redokun, Shu Ni hopes to create meaningful content for multilingual needs by utilizing her expertise in linguistics and graphic design.

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