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How To Translate a Google Spreadsheet with Google Translate

Posted by Arch on April 15, 2019
how to translate spreadsheet with google

Google Sheets is a convenient platform with plenty of functions. One of those functions gives you the possibility to translate the content of your spreadsheet cells.

You can translate any word in Google Sheets, detect languages, and create ‘vocabulary’ lists. This article will show you how.

The Language Code

To translate any word in a Google spreadsheet, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Open your Google spreadsheet.
  2. Type in any word in a cell.
  3. Click on another cell.
  4. Type ‘=googletranslate’. Once you start typing, the ‘googletranslate’ option should automatically appear in the dropdown menu. Instead of typing, you can also click on the ‘Functions’ icon in the toolbar. Then choose Google > Google Translate from the Dropdown menu.
    translate spreadsheet with google
    translate google spreadsheet
  5. Click on ‘googletranslate’. A code (text, [source_language], [target_language]) will appear.
    translate spreadsheet
  6. For ‘text’, choose the cell with the word you want to translate. For example, A1. Alternatively, you can click on that cell, and the program will write it for you.
  7. For [source_language], choose the language of the word you’ve written. If you want to translate the word ‘cat’, you should write ”en” (for English).
  8. For [target_language], choose the language you want to translate to. For example, you can type ”es” for Spanish or “it” for Italian. Remember to always write language codes in quotation marks. Otherwise, you will get an error in the code.
  9. Press ‘Enter’. You should see a translation of your source word.

Google Sheets supports the same language codes as Google Translate. If the language option exists in Google Translate, you can use it in your Google spreadsheet. To see all the available languages, you should look at the list of languages supported by Google Translate. Here you can learn the codes for all supported languages.

For example, if you want to translate from English to Japanese, you should use the following code for your cell:

=googletranslate (text, “en”, “ja”)

Simple!

Making a Vocabulary List

If you want to translate many words from one language to another, you can make a ‘vocabulary list’ in your Google Spreadsheet. The process is similar to the one described above.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make two columns in your sheet. We will use column A for the familiar words and column B for the translations.
  2. In A1 you can type: ‘English’, and in B1 type the language that you want to translate to. ‘Spanish’, for example.
  3. In cell B2, write the code: =googletranslate (A2, “en”, “es”). You can change the language codes depending on what you want to translate. The program will write #VALUE in the cell because you haven’t yet written anything in A2.
    translate spreadsheet
  4. In A2, write any word that you would like to translate. As soon as you’re done typing, the translation should appear in cell B2 cell.
  5. Drag your mouse to the corner of the B2 until you see a little cross. Then click on it and drag it down over B3, B4, B5, etc.
    language google
  6. Now you can type any word in A3 and you will get a translation in B3. The same applies to A4 to B4, A5 to B5, etc. until you translate all the words that you want.

You can even add another column with another language. Let’s say you want to translate the same thing, but to Italian. In C1, you type ‘Italian’. This isn’t necessary, but it will help you make a difference and organize your columns.

The code for C2 would be ‘=googletranslate (A2, “en”, “it”). Click on the bottom-right corner of that cell and drag it down. The words will automatically translate.

Detect Language

You can combine two different functions – detect language and Google Translate. With this, you don’t have to know the language you are translating from.

  1. In the first row, enter a word or a phrase from another language.
  2. In another cell, start to write ‘=detectlanguage’ and once the function pops up, click on it.
    google language
  3. The function is like the previous one. For ‘text’, you can either write the name of the cell (A2) or click on it.
  4. Press ‘Enter’. When you do, you will see a language code in the cell.

For example, if you type in “=detectlanguage, A2” and the text in A2 is ‘gato’, Google will detect Spanish. Since Google works in language codes, the cell will say ‘es’ instead. You can also use the drag method to repeat the process for each row.
google translate spreadsheet

Use Simple Phrases

Remember to use only simple phrases while translating with Google Sheets. If you used Google Translate before, you will know that the more complex phrases are not always accurate.

Try to simplify your words and ideas so you can fully benefit from this function.

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