How to Translate PowerPoint Presentations - 2021 Guide

by Shu Ni Lim 7 minutes to read

visual representation of translating ppt files

You've created an amazing PowerPoint presentation, and now you want to share it with a foreign audience. What is the best way to translate a PPT document? Can you translate a whole PPT in just one click?

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.

Overview

Method #1: Use built-in translation tool in Microsoft PowerPoint

You can translate a PPT document within Microsoft PowerPoint. This method generates a simple machine translation of your content that is suitable for personal reading (here is a guide with all the info about the best machine translation software).

First, open your PowerPoint Presentation. Then, on the toolbar, select Review > Translate.

microsoft powerpoint translator

The translator menu will appear on your right. You may click on the 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.

microsoft translator powerpoint

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.
Important Info

  • 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. 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

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.

google translate ppt

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.

google translate pptx

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.
Important Info

  • 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.

Method #3: Hire a professional translator or agency online

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!
Important Info

  • 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 professional translation tool

If you need to translate a PPT file for business use, the most cost-effective solution is to use a professional translation software - CAT tool like Redokun. These tools are specifically designed to optimize multilingual projects - even if you don't have a professional translator on your team.

The key to this feature is machine translations, which you can readily access within the translation software. While machine translations are not perfect, they can be easily fixed by someone you already know who possesses some proofreading skills. This could be a colleague, a vendor, or a business partner.

What are the top translation software of 2021? Click here to find out.

Here's an example of a how a cloud-based translation tool would look like. Once you upload your PPT presentation, the program will automatically divide it into text segments. You or your colleague may enter the translation into the corresponding text boxes.

redokun translation interface example

But wait... That's not all! Using cloud-based translation tools like Redokun, your team can

  • create and monitor multiple translation projects.
  • invite internal or external team members to collaborate on translations online.
  • create, store, and employ frequently used terminologies for more efficient and consistent translations. Click here to learn more about Translation Memories.
  • maintain the formatting of your PowerPoint presentations. Once you complete a translation, the program will generate a clean copy of the translated PPT file in the same layout as the original. Just download and use as you please.
  • upload revised PPT translations without disrupting the parts you have already translated. When you revise your PowerPoint presentation, the software detects and highlights the changes for further action. The unaltered segments will remain as you'd want them.
  • start using the translation software without intensive training. Why use a translation tool if it holds you back with a steep learning curve? Remember to choose one that is easy to use. Of course I recommend Redokun, but I'll leave you to make your own judgements... ;)

Important Info

A Quick Overview

Overall, the method you should use to translate a PPT file depends on one main question: who will be the audience? If it's for your personal reference, Google Translate is the most obvious choice, but remember to be mindful of the security risks.

If you will use the PowerPoint translation in a business setting, then having a professional translation tool like Redokun is the better choice. These tools are especially useful in boosting the productivity and work quality of localization projects.

Here's a rundown on the four ways to translate PPT documents:

how to translate ppt file infographic

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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