How to Translate in Excel? (Text/Formulas)

Sometimes you may be in a situation where you are required to work with and share Excel documents that are not in your native language.

Excel’s translation features come in handy in making the workbooks accessible to yourself and other team members.

This tutorial shows you when and how to use the translation features of Excel.

When to Use Excel’s Translation Features?

The following are examples of situations where you might need to use Excel’s translation features:

  • When working in a culturally diverse office with staff who speak different languages. 
  • When working with a multinational company using several versions of Excel in different languages. 
  • When you receive a workbook that is outside your primary language.
  • When you work with remote teams that are multi-ethnic.

How to Use Excel’s Translation Features?

We will show you how to translate in Excel using an example of translating English to Swahili. 

Imagine you are working for a multinational company as Human Resource Manager, and you conducted a survey to find out the level of satisfaction of company staff.

The results of the study are as follows:

Dataset that needs to be translated

You are required to share these results with a colleague manager from Tanzania.

The manager’s native language is Swahili, and he does not understand English very well.

However, you can translate the document to Swahili using the following steps:

  1. Select cell A1 which contains the header text you want to translate first, and click the Review tab and then the Translate button in the Language group.
Click the translate icon

The Translator pane appears on the right of the Excel window.

  1. Set the source language and the target language, which are English and Swahili, respectively. 
select the source and the target language

After selecting the target language, you can see a preview of the translation. 

  1. Manually copy the translated segment and paste it into cell A1 as follows:
copy and paste the translated text in Excel

Note: If you are pasting into merged cells, Excel returns a message box with a warning:

When you click OK on the warning message box, you get the following warning message:

warning when trying to paste in merged cells

To prevent this problem, unmerge the cells before pasting. Then, you can merge the cells again after pasting.

  1. Repeat steps 1 to 3 to translate the text in the rest of the cells.
all text translated in Excel

Additional Information on the Excel Translate Feature

  • Excel’s built-in Translator can sometimes give the wrong translation; therefore, it cannot be relied upon for professional use.
  • You cannot use the Translator to translate formulas and functions because it does not preserve the formula behind the text displayed in the cells. To translate formulas and functions, you need to use the Functions Translator add-in, which will be looked at later in this tutorial.

Is there a Translate Formula in Excel?

Many Google Sheets users often wonder if there is a translate formula in Excel (similar to the GoogleTranslate function in Google sheets).

As of writing this tutorial, there is no translation function in Excel that can take a cell reference and give you the translated text.

While there is a translation feature, you need to first manually translate the text and then copy and paste the translated text back into Excel.

Given that Excel and Google Sheets keep learning from each other and keep adding functions, I’m hoping that a similar translate function will soon be available in Excel.

How to Translate Functions in Excel?

If you want to translate your Excel functions into a different language, the Excel native translator cannot cut it; therefore, you must use the Functions Translator add-in.

The Functions Translator is made for people who use Excel in several languages.

Install the Functions Translator Add-In

You must install the Functions Translator add-in before you can use it. 

To install the Functions Translator add-In, use the following steps:

  1. Click the Insert tab, and select the Get Add-ins button in the Add-ins group.
click on get add ins
  1. In the Office Add-ins Store, select the Productivity category and scroll down until you find the Functions Translator, and click the Add button.
add the functions translator addin
  1. Click Continue to accept the license terms and privacy policy.

The Functions Translator add-in is added to the very right of the Home tab.

functions translator add in added to the home tab

Additional Information on the Functions Translator Add-in

You will see the Reference and Translator buttons In the Functions Translator group.

It does not matter which one you click; either one will take you to the Functions Translator pane, only to different tabs.

The Reference button will take you to the Reference tab, and the Translator button will take you to the Translator tab.

Note: You are taken to the Welcome screen the first time you open the Functions Translator.

welcome screen of the functions translator addin

When you click the Get Started button on the Welcome screen, you are taken to the screen where you can set the From and To languages.

select the from and to language

You are taken to the Functions Translator when you click the Start Working button. 

The add-in has three tabs; Reference, Dictionary, and Translator tabs.

tabs in the functions translator add in

Note the gear button at the bottom of the pane:

gear button in the functions translator add in

The gear button allows us to change the From and To usage languages.

Let’s click on it and set the From language to English and the To language to Dutch.

Of course, we do this assuming we are working with the Dutch version of Excel.  

Click the back arrow to go back to the three tabs.

click the back arrow

The Reference Tab

The Reference tab gives you a reference sheet for all Excel functions in the source and target languages. 

the reference tab

You can use the Function category drop-down to sort the functions.

functions category drop down

The Dictionary Tab

The Dictionary tab grants you access to a searchable dictionary of all the Excel functions:

the dictionary tab in functions translator addin

The Translator Tab

The Translator tab allows you to translate all Excel functions and delimiters in a formula.

Type in or paste the formula you want to be translated in the top box and click the down arrow to see the translation in the target language. 

the translator tab

Click the first button below the text boxes to replace the formula in the currently selected cell with content in the text box.

replace the formula in the currently selected cell

Click the other buttons below the text boxes to choose the correct delimiter symbol if the auto-detection process selected the wrong one. 

choose the column separator

This tutorial has explained in detail how to translate in Excel using Excel’s built-in Translator and the Functions Translator add-in.

These translation features are helpful for people who work with Excel workbooks that are not in their native language.

Examples of situations where the translation features are handy are; culturally diverse offices with staff who speak different languages and multinational companies that use many versions of Excel in several languages.

Other situations include when you receive Excel documents in a language that is not your primary language and when you are collaborating with multi-ethnic remote teams.

Note that Excel’s built-in Translator can sometimes give wrong translations, and so we can’t apply it for professional use. 

We hope you found the tutorial helpful.

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