We've all delivered a presentation using Microsoft PowerPoint at one point or another. I remember all those hours I spent carefully arranging the text boxes, images, and charts on each slide. Yeah, presentation skills don't matter when you have killer slides.
The point is, PowerPoint documents contain various textual and visual elements that could lose their shape after translation. Since good design is essential for a good presentation, you might want to translate a PPT file while preserving its layout.
Whatever your presentation goals are, here is a useful guide on the best ways to translate PPT for personal and business use.
- Method #1: Use built-in translation tool in Microsoft PowerPoint – recommended for personal use; maintains simple formatting
- Method #2: Upload the presentation to Google Translate – recommended for personal use; does not maintain formatting
- Method #3: Hire a professional translator or agency online – recommended for personal use or professional distribution, but more expensive
- Method #4: Translate PPT files using a translation management system – recommended for professional use; more cost-effective; maintains formatting
Method #1: Use built-in translation tool in Microsoft PowerPoint
Recommended for: Personal use; maintains simple formatting.
You can translate your PPT document within Microsoft PowerPoint. This method creates a simple machine translation of your content that is suitable for personal reading (here is a guide with all the info about machine translation software).
First, open your PowerPoint Presentation. On the toolbar, select Review > Translate.
The translator menu will appear on your right as seen below. You may click on any text box you wish to translate, and the selected text will automatically show up in the menu.
Next, choose your source language and target language. Once the translation is complete, click the Insert button to replace the original text on the slide with its translation.
Keep in mind that you can only translate one text box at a time using the built-in translator. If you have multiple text boxes on each slide (e.g. title, subtitle, captions), you need to manually insert each corresponding translation.
- You can only translate PPT documents slide-by-slide; one text box at a time. This isn't the most productive method for PowerPoint presentations with a significant number of slides.
- Since you're doing the manual work of transferring the translations into the text boxes, you have control over the slide layout (additionally, here is a list with the most common translation problems and their solutions including the design and formatting issues). However, it also means you need to spend time adjusting the font styles and sizes if the target language doesn't support the original style.
- Microsoft Translator is a free machine translation service that is not suitable for business use. The translated copy may contain inaccuracies and inconsistencies that must go through intensive post-editing.
- Only recommended if you're only translating a PPT file for your own understanding
Method #2: Upload the PPT slides to Google Translate
Recommended for: Personal use; does not maintain formatting.
This is another fast and free method to translate a PPT file for your own reading.
In almost the same way you can also translate word documents, translate excel spreadsheets, and pdf documents.
First, go to Google Translate on your browser and select the Documents tab.
Select the source language and the target language of your choice. Then, upload your PowerPoint presentation, which can be either a .ppt file or a .pptx file.
Once you click Translate, the entire translated PPT presentation will appear as plain text in your browser. As shown below, any images and font styles will not be maintained. You may only transfer the translation into your PPT document yourself using the good ol' copy-paste method.
- Translations for Google Translate are usually sufficient for those who want to translate a PPT file for their own reference. However, it is not so suitable for professional use, such as in business meetings or market distribution.
- As mentioned, there is no way to download the translation as a PowerPoint file with all its headings and design elements intact. If you have a 30-page PPT presentation to translate, there are better solutions further down this list.
- To protect your valuable data, it's best to avoid uploading your business documents onto free translation websites.
If curious, here is a detailed guide about machine translation (its history and whether it will replace human translators or not).
Method #3: Hire a professional translator or agency online
Recommended for: Personal use or professional distribution, but expensive.
You can connect with professional translators and agencies all over the world on freelancer platforms like Proz.com and Upwork. It's as easy as scrolling through a list and choosing the right person for the job.
The good thing about online marketplaces is that you can almost always find the language pair you need, no matter how obscure a language may be.
When it comes to translating PPT files, you may want to ask the translator or agency whether they would provide the translation in the original layout. It would be a real time-saver if they do!
If clueless on where to start - here is a list with 40+ places on where to find a translator.
- This is the most expensive method on the list. Professional translators may charge by the hour, the number of words, or the number of slides.
- If you need to translate a PPT file into multiple languages, one translator alone may not be able to cover all language pairs. Hiring more people leads to additional costs.
- Translators and translation agencies mainly deal with text. Asking them to optimize the layout of your PowerPoint presentation may incur extra charges. Of course, this will vary for different service providers, so it's always a good idea to ask first!
Method #4: Translate PPT files using a translation management system
Best for: Professional use; more cost-effective; maintains formatting.
If you need to translate a PPT file for business use, the most cost-effective solution is using a translation management system (TMS), such as Redokun. This tool is specifically designed to make your document translation easier so that you spend less time getting to your final deliverable.
By using a TMS to translate your PowerPoint presentation, you can automate three main tasks that tend to be the most time-consuming when done by hand. They are:
- Extracting the text into organized segments for translation
- Getting translation suggestions for each segment
- Preserving the styles, images, and layout of your presentation
Here's a quick video of how to translate your PowerPoint on Redokun. If you prefer, you can also continue scrolling for the step-by-step tutorial.
Here are the 5 simple steps to translate your PPT document with Redokun (look out for the productivity boosters).
Step 1: Upload your PPT document to Redokun
First, sign in to your Redokun account and upload your PPT document. Tip: You can activate your free trial without entering credit card information.
The upload wizard will guide you through setting up your PPT translation project, which is pretty simple.
- First, set the source language of your PPT presentation.
- Then, select the target languages you want to add to the project.
Step 2: Assign your translators for each target language
For each target language you selected in Step 1, you can assign one or more translators (or even yourself) to work on that specific language.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a translator. You can loop in your editor, your business partner, or anyone involved in approving the final translation of your PPT presentation.
Productivity Booster 1: And just by uploading your PPT file to Redokun, you can happily skip over one of the most tedious jobs in translation history. Copy-pasting your translatable text into a spreadsheet - Redokun does this automatically for you.
Step 3: Pre-translate your entire PPT presentation (Optional)
Next, you’ll have the option to pre-translate your PPT document. This will pre-fill all text segments in your presentation with machine translation or previous translations you’ve confirmed on Redokun.
By pre-translating, your work is half done before you even open the document. Now you can focus on making the translations perfect rather than starting from a blank slate.
Step 4: Translate with your team using the enhanced Web Editor
Now you and your team members can start translating your PPT presentation in the Web Editor, which will look like this:
Here’s quick tour of what you can do in the Web Editor:
- Discuss the project and tag your teammates: You’ll have two ways to do this. You can use the top section to leave general comments and instructions for the project. Or you be more specific by leaving comments at a specific text segment you need help with.
- Translate your document in context: On the left side, you’ll see the page previews of your PPT presentation. This is better than translating in a spreadsheet because you’ll have access to the visual context while translating each segment. Knowing where the text will go in a presentation - and what other texts surrounds it - can help you better understand how to translate them.
At the segment level, there are also a couple of neat things you can do:
- Get machine translation suggestions: Google Translate and DeepL machine translators are built into your workspace. Just click on any segment and the suggestions will appear below it.
- Get suggestions from your Translation Memories (TM): You can automatically reuse any translations from other projects you’ve completed on Redokun before. TM is the key to language consistency, especially if your PPT slides are just one part of your business presentation.
You are likely to use the same terminology or phrases across different documents, and you don’t have to keep translating them. Even if a new segment is only 70% similar to an old segment, you can pull up the old translation to update it.
If you have more than one translator assigned to your document, they can translate together in real time - just like in Google Docs. You can see who is online in the Web Editor and what they’re currently working so you don’t accidentally override their work.
Productivity Booster 2: Imagine if Slack, PowerPoint, and Google Translate were rolled up into one tool. The Web Editor is basically that. I find it extremely convenient to not have to switch between tools while translating a document, which often breaks my concentration (like when I accidentally switched to YouTube).
Step 5: Download translated PPT presentation from Redokun
Once you have filled up all the segments, click Confirm Translation at the top right corner of the Web Editor. This will lock your document from further changes and save your work into your Translation Memories database for future reference.
On the Document Detail page, click Download to generate a copy of your PowerPoint presentation in the target language. All the original images and text arrangements will remain. You’ll have a complete set of PPT slides ready to be shown to a new audience.
Productivity Booster 3: This is perhaps the biggest booster of them all. Using a TMS like Redokun, you can skip an entire stage in your translation workflow - the design stage. You’ve already spent so much time creating the original PPT presentation. Why spend even more time re-creating the same presentation… but in another language? You have the ability to auto-generate a translated PPT slide deck, which only needs a little
Why use Redokun to translate PPT files?
Do you translate your PPT slides (among other types of documents) for your business? Do you work with a team when translating your documents?
If you do, then you stand to benefit the most from using a translation management system like Redokun because it was created specifically to support your work. You’ll have a single platform to manage your people, your documents, and most importantly, your communications about each project.
The easiest translation tool you can learn to use
Redokun is designed to be as simple as possible so that you and your team can jump in to take advantage of all the features almost immediately. You'll know where everything is, and what each button does - no guessing game.
Now you can add a useful tool to your translation workflow without sacrificing valuable time on lengthy onboarding.
Keep track of multiple projects in different languages without confusion
Organize your documents in a way that makes the most sense to you. You can create folders for specific translation projects. And within each project, you can view the progress of each target language without having to ping the person in charge for updates.
Revise your PPT presentations without losing your existing progress
Let’s say the translations are already in progress but your PowerPoint presentation needs to be updated. It’s easy to update it in one language but doing it in multiple languages is harder… usually. With Redokun, you only have to upload the revised PPT document in the source language. Your translators will be automatically notified of newly added text they need to translate - without compromising any of the translations they’ve completed.
Translate your frequently used terminologies with better consistency
By being consistent, your brand voice becomes more easily recognizable, and you can spend half the time trying to achieve it. Since your Translation Memory database is built into Redokun, you wouldn’t need to second guess how to translate the terminologies you often use.
Now “terminology” is a broad term that encompasses a number of things. It could be your product names, your headings and subheadings, or even industry-specific jargon.
You really only need to translate these segments once. And in subsequent projects, the Web Editor tells you exactly how you translated the repeated segment the first time. So now you can be more precise in how you say something in different contexts.
Translate different types of documents with the same tool
You will likely have content that is written in different file formats. Having all of them under one roof can also improve your translation consistency.
In fact, many businesses fail at doing marketing translation because they look at each content separately. But in the grand scheme of branding, every piece of content you publish is related to one another, regardless if it’s a PowerPoint slide deck or a product catalog. The medium may be different, but the messages should stay the same so that your audience remembers you.
That’s why businesses playing the long game should consider investing in translation memory software like Redokun.
Improve your team dynamics for good
Your team feels more motivated when they always know what their next step is (and who to ping if they don’t). By consolidating your efforts on one platform, you’ll always where to find what you need and how to deliver important updates.
How to know if your team dynamics are suffering? If you find that your current translation workflow is messy because it involves a number of people, it’s a sign to evaluate the core of your operations.
Where do you start the conversation when creating a new translation project? How do you pass along key information to your translators and anyone who comes after them? Where do they translate your documents?
If any of the above is done manually or executed on separate platforms… then the missing piece in your workflow is a translation management system.
Now I understand that not everyone on your team will feel like this tool is necessary, and you might have some hesitations yourself. So here’s a way to try a translation management system without any kind of commitment. I’d like to invite you and your team to a 14-day free trial of Redokun.
Just create an account with any email and follow the guide above to translate your first PPT presentation together.
A Quick Overview
Overall, the method you should use to translate a PPT file depends on one main question: who will be the reader? If it's for your personal reference, Google Translate is the most obvious choice, but be mindful of the security risks.
If you will use the PowerPoint slides in a business setting, then using a translation management system like Redokun is the better choice. These tools are especially useful in boosting your translation quality and productivity.
Here's a rundown on the four ways to translate PPT documents:
Till next time,