Translating text for projects

Hello all! Just sharing some tips I have come across on translation. If you have any other suggestions on translating things, feel free to chime in!

If you don't have budget and it isn't for an external audience....G-sheets and G-docs have a couple of functions that work pretty well with translations. Beckie suggests DeepL as a handy translation platform that you could try (thanks Beckie!). I haven't used it yet but it looks very straightforward and you can translate word or powerpoint documents too!

In G-sheets, use the function '=GOOGLETRANSLATE'. This will translate a cell into the language you prefer – you just have to input the current language it is in and the ISO code for the language you want it to be. You can use the function '=DETECTLANGUAGE' to bring up the language ISO code of the cell. There are lots of tutorials online on how to do this :)

In G-docs, go to the 'Tools' menu and select 'Translate.' Then update your document title and pick the language you wish to translate it to. 

  • Pros: Quick and free! 
  • Cons: I wouldn't trust them 100% but if you have no budget and only need to translate some key words/short text it is worth a try! You can also double check by pasting the translated text into Google translate and seeing what it comes out with in English and catch any silly errors. 

If you have a limited budget ...and the document has an external audience, then you can find translators from all over the world on - a hub for freelancers. You just sign up for an account and you can either post a job advert or contact translators directly.

  • Pros: Supporting the little guy and giving people from all over the world employment opportunities. 
  • Cons: Sometimes the cheapest option is a false economy. I found less conscientious ones charge you just for copy pasting between Google translate! Depending on the type of material you are getting translated, you may need a specialist for the specific technical language and to proof read.

If you have a technical/important document or it is going to a high level recipient...hopefully you have a decent budget for this!

There are several approaches you can use - a lot of countries have a translators guild or an institution for translators that acts as a directory for reputable and specialist translators (usually pricey!). Embassies and government institutions have their preferred consultants but they are also very pricey! I usually ask for advice on good translators from stakeholders and partner organisations, as they have similar budgets and specialisms.

  • Pros: Once you accept it costs a lot, you'll appreciate that it is well worth it. By using a good translator you'll end up with a well written document in the target language which increases both its credibility and usability.
  • Cons: Budget! For large technical documents you are looking at thousands of pounds. You also have to allow a lot of time for this process.

General tips... Never skip on paying for proof reading! Ideally, get a 2nd proof read done by a technical specialist in that subject. Be mindful that even within one language, it can vary hugely depending on the focal country. I accidentally offended a stakeholder by using a Brazilian Portuguese translator for an Angolan Portuguese document. Take time to tailor things for your audience. :)


Go to the profile of Beth Robinson
over 1 year ago

Thanks for sharing this Sophie, really useful. Would make a great post generally on WildHub (so outside of this room) if you were willing? Absolutely no worries if not.


Go to the profile of Sophie Ledger
over 1 year ago

Hi Beth! Sorry - didn't see this  -Oh yes, will post outside the room. I will see if I can work out how to do that haha! :)

Go to the profile of Stella Diamant
over 1 year ago

Hi Sophie! Thats super helpful thank you. I struggle with finding totally bilingual translators for translating documents, and often can't pay for it so I rely on volunteers. I was wondering if there is a conservation network like Upwork (which I didn't know about, its awesome!) but for people wanting to volunteer their skills in conservation? Ie. I really need a graphic designer for a few documents, but limited funds. It would be a great way for someone to gain experience and have an impact in conservation, potentially turn into a long-term collaboration? I also feel there are so many experts out there in these fields just wanting to help out but it seems difficult to find them. Just wondering if anyone knows of a network like this? Thanks!

Go to the profile of Sophie Ledger
over 1 year ago

Hi Stella, So sorry for the delay - I didn’t get a notification for comments. Glad it was handy! And yes, it is really difficult finding the perfect translation service especially when budget and time constraints apply. Gosh, relying on volunteers for translations is really tricky – do you have contacts with local universities? Students might be keen for some experience supporting a conservation charity. Oh also! You could apply for small conservation outreach grants (I think BES does one) and that way you have more options.  

On a private sector or expert volunteering for conservation hub – it really sounds like there should be one as that would be an amazing idea! I know that large corporations often donate their time or expertise as part of their ‘corporate responsibility’ schemes but that is often a long-term, organisation-to-organisation level agreement or through applying directly to their grant scheme. Hmm…

You could post on the Wildhub and ask :) – maybe someone in the mix might know? Good luck :)

Go to the profile of Beckie Garbett
over 1 year ago

Great tips! Thanks Sophie! In my last position, I was exposed to DeepL translator, which is much more comprehensive than Google Translate for those on a budget. I used this and would then try to find someone who spoke the native language to proofread (if it was just a brief document). As you say, for high-level and large technical documents we need other strategies!

I'm interested to see any feedback on Stella's question re. people in other professions offering skills to conservation initiatives to build their portfolios (and maybe just to do something nice :) etc. I wonder if there is some kind of platform for this... I'm not aware of one. Good to know!

Go to the profile of Sophie Ledger
over 1 year ago

Hey Beckie, Oh thank you, I have never heard of DeepL but it looks awesome! Thank you for sharing that - I will no doubt be using this for text now! I shall see if I can edit the post and add it in as a suggestion :).  
Definitely would be so helpful to find a platform for the expertise sharing - I feel like there must be something... perhaps it is broken down into skills, like a legal support hub or tech for good type things... I will put this post into the wider Wildhub and see if anyone has any tips. :)

Go to the profile of Beckie Garbett
over 1 year ago

Pleasure! Yep absolutely, I think you're probably right about the various categories of platforms, and you jogged my memory on this conservation technology network -

Go to the profile of Thirza Loffeld
over 1 year ago

Hi Sophie, Thirza here. I noticed that this valuable lessons learned is not in any room or channel at the moment. Would you like me to move it to a destination where other members can easily find it? Would your contribution fit our Diversity, equity and inclusion channel perhaps? If you click on the 'edit' button under your heading, you will see an overview of channels and rooms to select appear in the right-hand menu. Let me know if you need any assistance - I'm here to help :)