New Excel user... how to translate document into English efficiently?
May 19, 2017 9:35 AM   Subscribe

I was hired to translate a foreign language Excel document into English. I am being paid per word, so obviously the faster I work the more I get paid, but... I have little experience with Excel, so in my current state I will be moving slow as molasses. How do I optimize my translation efficiency/speed? Bonus question: How in tarnation do you count words in Excel?! More info available upon request.

Foreword: Please remember, I am a translator working with foreign language words and not numbers, if this makes a difference. Also, I'm rather new to Excel and am at the "plug in everything manually" point of inefficiency.

I see a lot of repeating words, and I know you can do cool things with Excel that will make my job more manageable. Please teach me these cool things! (plus any other efficiency hacks you know of). Quality tutorials detailing how to learn them are also quite welcome.

Finally, can someone please tell me how to do a word count? I can't find any Word-equivalent tools to do so, and I'd pull out my hair if I had to count them all out manually...
posted by CottonCandyCapers to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For word count, you can paste the text into a standard text editor (eg Word) and you don't care that the formatting is all screwed up, you just run the word counter feature and report that number.
posted by aimedwander at 9:43 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]

You can use find & replace all to replace all of a word if you know they're all going to be the same.
posted by aniola at 11:14 AM on May 19

So for example you could find all instances of "rouge" and replace them with "red" or "rouge = red" or however.
posted by aniola at 11:16 AM on May 19

Are we talking about a Google AdWords or keywords type situation with a few words in every cell, or are they full sentences or even paragraphs? If the latter, find/replace for single words or phrases may not be that efficient.

General quick-work hacks in Excel that may be useful: work as much as possible with the keyboard, not the mouse. F2 "opens" a cell & puts your cursor at the end (same effect as double-click).
Simply typing replaces what's in the cell (obviously).
Shift-enter goes to the cell above after typing.
Alt-Enter adds a line break within the cell.

Counting characters can also come in helpful if you are working within a character limit (as eg with AdWords)
posted by ClarissaWAM at 12:34 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]

These are all very helpful so far!

ClarissaWAM - there are about five words max in every cell, with only a few exceptions. And again, they're repeated hundreds of times.

Would love to hear of any other ideas (if this question isn't pushed too far down the queue already...)
posted by CottonCandyCapers at 2:54 PM on May 19

Provided there are no fancy macros or formulas in the Excel file, you could save it as a comma separated text file (csv), and then re-open that file in a text editor (like notepad++) or Word. This might make things easier to work with.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 6:50 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]

I translate for a living. Computer aided translation tools, not to be confused with machine translation, are great for this kind of thing and would save you from typing repeated units out again and again. The main ones are SDL Trados Studio and MemoQ, and there are others including free ones. There is a learning curve though and it would take some time to get to grips with the software, but it'd be worth it if you are to translate professionally in future.

I am assuming you don't generally translate, otherwise you'd already know about such software.
posted by altolinguistic at 7:58 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]

Seconding the suggestion to Save As a text file and then open that file in a text editor, at least for the word counting. Doesn't sound like you're actually needing spreadsheet functionality (unless your client insists on that for the translation as well).

If you need to stay in a spreadsheet, note that once you've changed the about five words per cell into the target language, if you're doing your updates manually the spreadsheet should supply the translated text as a type-ahead choice once you've entered that string once. But I'd first try a global find-and-replace for any/all of these strings (with plenty of saves along the way, in case something gets screwed up).
posted by Rash at 1:30 PM on May 21

Also, when saving as a text file, a suggestion upthread was to make it a csv file. You might find using that output easier to read if you make the delimiter 'tab' instead of comma.
posted by Rash at 1:44 PM on May 21

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