Google Docs – Translating a document

Many people work in different languages and it’s useful to be able to translate texts quickly and also to be able to work in another language if you speak more than one. Here we’ll look at a quick way to translate a document and how to work in another language even though your account may be in English.


Translating a document

Google Translate is pretty famous and it’s incorporated into Google Docs. It’s very quick to roughly translate a whole document and has about 100 languages (to be honest I didn’t count-but there are a lot!).

Go to the “Tools” menu and select “Translate document”.

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The Translate document dialogue box will open, asking you which language you want to translate into. Click on “Choose a language” and select one from the extensive range.

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This will create a new translated document in your My Drive, thus, not touching the original. It’ll be named “Translated copy of + original filename”. Here I’ve translated one from English to Spanish.

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For those, who can speak Spanish fairly well, you’ll notice that the translation isn’t perfect. Just to show the point, here’s the Spanish text, translated back into English. I’ve highlighted the differences from the original. The yellow ones are differences but have a similar meaning.

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Google Translate is a wonderful tool and gets about 80-90% of the text right, but it’s a long way off translating something as it was intended. So, be careful how you use this. That said, it can help you understand a text if you don’t speak the language and even if you do, it can give you a head start in translating it.


Using a different language

If you want to write in a different language then go to the “File” menu and select “Language”.

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Then select the language you want. The main benefit of this is that the spellchecker will change to the language you’ve chosen, so you can correct any mistakes in that language. It doesn’t change the menus and the language you set for your account.


eBooks now available on Drive, Forms, Sheets, Docs, and Slides:

  • Join the Google Slides Tips Google Space (for now: personal accounts only)

Baz Roberts (Flipboard / Twitter / Google+)


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