Offline translation using Word

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Why Word? Advantages of using Word

As a result of the discussion in Russian part of the forum, proposed method of working in Word has the following advantages over online tools:

  • context-dependent discussion
  • induces translator-reviewer couple to talk edits over
  • graphically records edits with accept and reject option
  • speeds up knowledge transfer in translator-reviewer couple
  • enables offline editing. Here the advantages might be subjective, but the capability itself is worthwhile in the whole bunch of scenarios, such as flight or intermittent connection.


There is a WordSRT macro, which automates the conversions described below.

Conversion between .srt and .doc

These instructions are simple, but, being written down in every minute step, seem long and complicated.

Transforming the srt file into a Word table

  1. Download the ENGLISH srt file from the video page of Amara (see also a Note below).
  2. Open the file with UTF-8 encoding.
  3. Save it as of Word 97-2002 /… doc version for wider acceptability. Saving as merely rtf is not enough. You can remove _eng from the end of file to indicate that it will contain more than one language.
  4. Ctr+A. Table| Convert| Text to table (=Alt+AVB). Number of columns =4. Press Enter. Here is your table. Hint: I combined this and the next Step into a macro and merely press Alt+Q.
  5. Select column 3.
  6. Reviewers: make another round of Steps 2 and 4 for target language, and insert column 3 into the table exiting from the English round. Close the target-language srt file – no need to save it.
  7. Format table to your heart’s content: font size, column width etc (see hints in Apx 1)
  8. Format the first two columns (numbers & timing) as you please, but DO NOT touch its content.
  9. The two Title lines are separate on Amara, so add them manually on top of the table.
  10. Use the empty column for translation or review. In the latter case, first copy the translation there (see Apx 1)
  11. Switch Track changes on/off with Alt+Shift+E. Make use of Words formatting possibilities (see Apx 1).
  12. To automate the reverse process, designate one column as final: here you may use diverse formats, but never leave two options simultaneously, nor comments (see Apx 2).

Transforming the Word table into an srt file

  1. Save the file with MS Table to upload under a different name, just in case. E.g. Talk 2publish.doc.
  2. Delete all columns except 1 (numbering), 2 (timing), and the one designed as final in item 12 above.
  3. Delete first two rows, title and resume.
  4. Add an empty column as Column 4
  5. Table| Convert| Table to text (=Alt+AVB), Separate text with = “Paragraph marks”, OK. Select All (Ctr+A), and press Ctr+Spacebar – all formatting will be gone.
  6. Now the Word file is ready: it should start with a single 1 on the first line, and end with a couple of empty lines; the file consists of 4-line-long packets, each having the right content: number, timing, text, empty line.
  7. Save the file as .srt. Notice added .srt extension and quotes around file name - this is to change file extension to .srt.
  8. Save and choose unicode encoding UTF-8. Ignore message saying formatting will be lost. Close srt. Close doc. Ignore message saying you have a large clipboard.
  9. Go to your Amara tasks and upload the draft by hovering on Perform Task and choosing Upload Draft.
  10. Choose the file. Be careful to choose .srt file for upload. Message should appear about successful upload.
  11. Open your task on Amara
  12. Update line breaks as necessary
  13. Copy-paste the title and description lines with completed translation
  14. Push the “Mark translation/revision as complete” button. Say “Thank you” to me. A thought will suffice - don’t clutter my mailbox.

PT. A note on parallel texts.

Surprisingly, if you keep in front of your eyes parallel texts in other languages it may dramatically increase your quality, and otherwise become a source of joy. Which languages should I download? One option is to download Spanish, French or Portuguese: even if you never learned them, these may help with Latin-root synonyms. Another option is a language close to the target language, e.g. Russian with Bulgarian, Dutch with German: completed work may hint as to sentence structure. A third, educational, option is a language which you may know not so good as English: it helps refresh knowledge during mini-breaks, but quite often it opens up alternative re-thinking possibilities with difficult lines. Files in many languages are available to download from Amara. You can easily modification the procedure, which will result in just an extra column.

Appendix 1. Formatting possibilities.

  1. Along with usual italics, bold, underline, font colors, there are Strikethrough Double strikethrough etc. For overview, select any word, and press Ctr+D. If you wish to adjust equal width for some, not all, columns by selecting these only, and pressing Right-mouse click+Y. Note also the difference between highlighting words and highlighting cells.
  2. When reviewing, copy the translation into the empty column and make changes there. Keep this column as final (see item 14 and Apx 2), and use it for comments, together with the English column. Highlight comments for easier detection. (MS Word “Comments” feature seems to be sensitive to versions and to View options).
  3. Here is a “wonderful piece of advice”.

To save previous screen space, you can make very small font in col. 1 and 2 by selecting them and pressing Ctr+[ or, as need arises, also Crtl+]. However, since from time to time you may need to see the timing, let me share a trick. After the font is indeed small, change its color to light grey so that the content is almost invisible, but then change the color of critical digits to deep blue as follows: select columns 1 and 2 , press Ctr+F, type ^#^#:^#^#, (including comma) into Find what, flag the Highlight all items or press Alt+H for the same effect, press Enter and Esc to leave the Find dialogue box. While all digits are still highlighted, select deep blue font color or anything else per your taste.

Appendix 2. Examples: Good and bad.

Note: formatting was restored from plain-text by best-guessing.

  • Here is a wonderful fantastic piece of advice. GOOD only after you accept/reject with Track changes.
  • Here is a (wonderful) fantastic piece of advice. BAD because of extra work of deleting.
  • Here is a fantastic piece of advice. GOOD because all formatting will be gone. Here, there was no comment.
  • Here is a fantastic piece of advice. For me, wonderful sounds out of place here GOOD if commented elsewhere.
  • Here is a wonderful piece of advice. Don’t you think fantastic would be better? GOOD if commented elsewhere.
  • Here is a wonderful (piece of) advice. BAD while parenthesis will stay.
  • Here is a wonderful piece of advice. BAD: Formatting includes strikethrough and will restore previous version.

Additional tips

  • Landscape page orientation might be a better fit for your wide screen. And if your screen is really big, you can set paper size to A3 or larger.
  • Subtitles can be converted to a paragraph of text and checked as a whole. This allows one to:
    • use built-in grammar checker
    • read complete sentences and check their coherence

Converting a column with subtitle into a paragraph of text

  1. Select column with subtitles:
  2. Copy into a new document
  3. Ensure there are no edits or comments left - they cause extra spaces
  4. Convert into text:
  5. Replace - "^p" to " ". No quotes. ^p means paragraph end, and " " is a space:
  6. Put a paragraph after talk title and summary
  7. Set your language for grammar: