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Extract Translatable Text

Category: Translation Back to Translation commands section

Most Excel files that you need to translate contain similar information in different worksheets or workbooks. For example, if you translate an accounting report every week, you will need to translate more or less the same text. If you are given 10 similar reports at the same time, you will have to translate the same text in all of them. What if you could translate the text of each cell only once and then replace the text in all the files with the translated text? This would save you an enormous amount of time.

This command helps by extracting all unique text (cell values and textbox contents) from the selected worksheets and creating a new workbook or Word document with that text (called “translation table”). After the translation table is translated, you will use 'Translate using Translation Table' command to “translate” the text. The screenshots below show how this works.

Important notes

If the cells in your Excel spreadsheet have internal formatting (i.e., some words are formatted differently than other words in the same cell), this formatting will not be retained after you import the translation table into the drawing with Translate using Translation Table command. Support for internal text formatting should be added in future versions of TransTools for Excel. In the meantime, it is recommended to restore such formatting manually.

Workflow overview:

Step 1: Run the command. Select whether to extract text from one or more worksheets within the current workbook (check the required worksheets) or selection (this may be a range of cells, a textbox or a group of shapes containing textboxes). Click Continue.

Screenshot: Using Extract Translatable Text

Step 2: A new workbook (translation table) is created. The 1st column contains unique text (cell values, textbox values) from the worksheets or selection. The 2nd column should be filled with translation of the text in the 1st column. The 3rd column shows whether the text was extracted from a cell or from a textbox (as part of a shape).

Screenshot: Generated translation table

Step 3: When the table has been translated, use 'Translate using Translation Table' to translate the original files.

Additional benefits

Extract Translatable Text and Translate using Translation Table commands offer a number of additional scenarios for boosting your productivity:

  • [CAT tool users] Use your CAT tool to translate the translation table. For ease of use, create a copy of the file containing the translation table, remove the first two rows and the third column , and then import the file into your CAT tool. Save the translated file, open it and paste its first column into the second column of the original translation table.
  • [CAT tool users] Work with complex Excel spreadsheets that produce an error in your CAT tool: extract translatable text from such spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel, then translate a copy of the generated translation table in your CAT tool, generate the target document, copy and paste the translation into the second column of the original translation table, and then use 'Translate using Translation Table' command to translate your complex file.
  • [Wordfast Classic] Use Microsoft Word to translate the translation table (1st column) and then paste the cleaned text as the second column back into the Excel translation table.


Screenshot: Extract Translatable Text dialogue

  1. Worksheets: Select this option to extract text from one or more worksheets in the current (active) workbook. Check the appropriate worksheets or click All / None to select / de-select all worksheets in the list.
  2. Look in print area only: If this option is checked, the command will only process cells in the print area. This is useful if your spreadsheet contains a lot of text, but you only need to translate text that will be printed.
  3. Selection: Text will be extracted from the selection (may be a range of cells, a textbox or a group of shapes containing textboxes).
  4. Formulas: Extract text from cells that contain formulas (i.e. instead of formulas the command will extract the resulting text).
  5. Process hidden groups and outlines: Sometimes the Excel spreadsheet will contain grouping and detail rows/columns. Show example
    Screenshot: Hidden groups and outlines in Excel

    By default, if the worksheet contains grouped (hidden) detail rows/columns, the command will extract text from them. If you would like to exclude hidden detail rows/columns from the operation, uncheck this option.
  6. Process cells with specified font color: This option will allow you to process only those cells whose font color matches the specified color. For example, you may format cells that need to be processed with a specific font color, and then use this option to collect text only from these cells. This allows you to translate spreadsheets where only some of the text requires translation. This option is off be default.
    Note: The entire cell must be formatted with the specified color, not just a few letters.
  7. Translation Table Format: Use the options under this tab to configure the format of the translation tables which will be generated.

    You can select the desired format of the translation table (Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel) and whether to output additional information in the generated translation table (file name, file path, column headings, type of text object).

Click Continue to complete the process. Click Cancel to exit the dialogue.


  • The command does not extract text from embedded objects or Excel charts.
Developed by Stanislav Okhvat, 2007–2016

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memoQ is copyright of Kilgray Translation Technologies.
Wordfast© is copyright of Yves Champollion.

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