Translating Text

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 26, 2019)

Joan would like to use the Word translation feature, that was introduced in the Word 2010 version, but she's not having much success. It doesn't appear on the screen in the new language (Spanish). She wonders if there is a special trick to using this feature.

There is no special trick, but there are things you need to make sure are in place in order for the translation tool to work correctly.

First, you need to understand that all translation occurs within the Research pane; it is not done in "real time" as you type. Follow these steps if you are using Word 2010:

  1. Display the Review tab of the ribbon and click Research in the Proofing group. Word displays the Research pane at the right side of your document.
  2. Within the Research pane, use the drop-down list to choose Translation. The display within the Research pane is modified to reflect your choice.
  3. Using the "From" and "To" drop-down lists (visible after step 2), specify the languages you want to translate from and to.
  4. Within the text of your document, select the word phrase you want to translate.
  5. Hold down the Alt key as you click on the selected word or phrase. This copies the selection to the Search For box in the Research pane, and the translation of that word or phrase is shown in the pane.

Follow these steps if you are using Word 2103:

  1. Display the Review tab of the ribbon and click Translate in the Language group.
  2. Click Translate Selected Text. Word displays the Research pane at the right side of your document with Translation already chosen.
  3. Within the Research pane, use the "From" and "To" drop-down lists to specify the languages you want to translate from and to.
  4. Within the text of your document, select the text you want to translate. The translation is displayed in the Microsoft Translator box of the Research pane.
  5. Click Insert. Word displays the translated text inside your document.

Follow these steps if you are using Word 2016 or a later version:

  1. Display the Review tab of the ribbon and click the Language tool and then click Translate.
  2. Click Translate Selection. Word displays the Translator pane. (A window may appear on the screen after clicking Translate Selection asking you to turn on Translation Services. If so, click on the "Turn On" button and Word will display the Translator pane.)
  3. Within the Translator pane, use the "From" and "To" drop-down lists to specify the languages you want to translate from and to.
  4. Within the text of your document, select the text you want to translate. The selected text and the translation are displayed in the respective To and From boxes of the Translator pane.
  5. Click Insert. Word displays the translated text inside your document.

The translation is done by Word sending your word or phrase over the Internet to a translation service and then receiving back and displaying the translation. The quality of the translation depends on a lot of factors, but you would be wise to never blindly trust the translation done by a computer program. (Think of how transliterated instructions for electronic devices—such as a smart phone—look to you. That's how a machine translation will probably look to a native reader.)

You may also benefit by reading through this article about translation at one of Microsoft's sites:

https://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/translate-text-in-a-different-language-HA010354288.aspx

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6706) applies to Microsoft Word 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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