How to Translate a Word Document: 4 Simple Ways

by Shu Ni Lim Shu Ni Lim 7 minutes to read

The latest Word processors like Microsoft Word deal with more than just plain text. When you translate a Word document, there are other elements like images, hyperlinks, and charts that might get “lost” in translation. So how should you translate a Word document into different languages while preserving all its components?

While Internet tutorials will point you to different methods of translating Word documents, the best solution for you boils down to two main questions:

  • Who will read the translation?
  • Do you need to maintain the formatting?

No matter what you answered, we have compiled the best ways to translate Word documents for your personal or business translation needs.

Need to translate Word documents regularly? Check out our post on how to optimize your Word docs for translation or download our free ebook!

31 Tips to Optimize Word doc translation

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

You can easily translate a document within Word itself. This is the free, fast, and convenient option.

First, open your Word Document. Then from the toolbar, select Review > Translate.

translate word document 1

To translate a particular segment of text in the document, click Translate Selection. You can also choose to translate the entire word file by clicking Translate Document.

Once you have selected, the translator menu will appear on the right. The steps from here onwards are just like how you would use Google Translate.

Step 1 : Select the source language
Step 2 : Select the target language
Step 3 : Click Insert/Translate

translate microsoft word how to translate a word document

If you are only translating a small section of text within a file, the translation will replace the source text in the original file.

If you opt to translate the whole document instead, the translation will automatically open in a new Word document, which you then can save to your computer. Based on my experience, Microsoft is decent at preserving simple textual formats after translation, such as bullet points and tables.

Important Info

  • Microsoft Word translations are not 100% accurate, because a machine does all the work. Artificial intelligence is getting better… but it’s not quite there yet.
  • If you translate the entire document within Word itself, the program will retain certain aspects of the formatting, such as lists and tables. However, it might also translate text and passages that do not need to be translated (e.g. hyperlinks).
  • Images containing text will not be translated using this method.
  • Only suitable if you want to translate a text for your personal reading and understanding

Method #2: Upload the document to Google Translate

Another online translation tool is Google Translate. Just click on the Documents tab on Google Translate as shown below. You’ll then be able to upload your Word document for a quick translation. It also works for PDF files, translating PowerPoint slides, and with translating Excel sheets too.

google translate word document

For another cloud-based alternative, you can also use Google Docs to translate a Word document. To start, upload your file to Google Drive and open it with Google Docs.

On the toolbar, select Tools >  Translate Document.

google docs translate document 1

Next, you will be prompted to choose the target language. Once you make your selection, the translated copy will open in a new Google Doc file.

Finally, you can download the translated copy as a Word document by selecting File > Download > Microsoft Word (.docx).

google docs translate document 2

Important Info

  • Once again, Google is a machine translation tool (read here about when, why, and in which case to use machine translation here) that will compromise the quality of the translation.
  • This method does not preserve the formatting of your document. You will need to spend time fixing it for further distribution.
  • Uploading your documents to any free translation platform like Google Translate presents privacy and security threats. This is not ideal for work files.
  • Only suitable if you want to translate a text for your personal reading and understanding

Method #3: Hire a human translator or translation agency online

With the growth of online marketplaces, connecting with a professional translator or translation agency has never been easier! On platforms like ProZ.com and Fiverr, you can easily find the right translator for the job in a wide variety of language pairs.

Using this method to translate a word document ensures that the final copy is as accurate as possible. To help the translator save some time (and save yourself some money), you may also run your word document through Google Translate before sending it to them.

Translators may offer better rates if they only need to correct the grammar and structure of a pre-translated text. However, for best results, it’s good to give the translator the original word document in the source language.

Important Info

  • Hiring a translator or translation agency is significantly more expensive than other methods on this list, as you are paying for their time and expertise.
  • If you need to translate Word documents into different languages, you may need the help of multiple translators to cover all the required language pairs. This will increase the cost of translation.
  • Some translators may not pay much attention to the formatting when translating your Word document. Hence, you will need to fix up the final copy yourself.

Method #4: Use a professional translation tool

Most translators and businesses prefer to invest in a professional translation tool like Redokun. The main reason is to save time and money at different stages of their multilingual workflow – from translation to design to distribution.

Let’s say your company has a brochure that needs to be translated into different languages for foreign markets. This process would normally involve a translator and a graphic designer.

If you use an external vendor to translate the document, the job is usually billed according to the number of words or number of hours. Then, you need a designer to transfer the translated text to the template. This ensures all design elements are standardized across all your brochures.

Having a professional translation software like Redokun cuts down the amount of the work for your translators and designers.

Translation software is a new thing for you? If so, here is a resourceful guide explaining everything you need to know.

Here is how you can elevate your workflow with our professional translation tool:

  • You and your translator can store, manage, and access commonly used terminologies for consistent and accurate translations (read and learn all about translation memories and the benefits that come with translation memories). Using this computer-assisted translation method is 99.98% cheaper than solely relying on human translation.
  • Your document’s structure remains intact at the post-translation stage. No funny-looking headings, lists, and SmartArt. This eliminates the need of employing a designer to fix the final copy. Redokun even extends this feature to more sophisticated file formats like Adobe InDesign, XML documents, and subtitles.
  • You can easily revise your original document without affecting the text that has already been translated. Only the newly added information will be marked for translation by the software. Learn more about this intuitive feature here.
  • Working from home just got easier with cloud-based translation tools like Redokun. As the admin, you can closely monitor the progress of different translation projects (here is more about managing your translation projects).
  • Do you need to work closely with a team member on translations? Redokun supports collaboration whether it's with your internal team or external team.
  • Redokun is easy to use and implement for everyone! No intensive training required. If you do run into questions while using the translation software, you can always count on Redokun’s responsive support team to resolve the issues promptly.

Not ready to commit yet? It's okay! Try Redokun for free and start optimizing your workflow today. No credit card necessary.

Want to read more about the benefits that come with using translation software and all about the essential tms features, here is a detailed guide about what are cat tools and even more here is a list of the best translation software for 2021.

A Quick Overview

Overall, I always recommend businesses to use a professional translation tool to translate a Word document for market distribution. As mentioned earlier, you must ask yourself two questions:

  • Who will read the translation?
  • Do you need to maintain the formatting?

For any answers that relate to business or professional needs, the most economical choice is to use a dedicated translation tool like Redokun. For personal reading, machine translation is usually sufficient, but use with caution. Here’s an overview:

how to translate a word document overview

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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