The Translator’s Tool Box - © International Writers’ Group, LLC 187
Working with Excel
For a long time, Excel files were almost abandoned by the translation industry.
Only one computer-assisted translation tool—Star Transit (see Translation
Environment Tools on page 204)—supported their translation through its own
environment. Only in the last few years have most of the other major
translation environment tools also started to support Excel. From my
perspective as a translator, this early abandonment stands in awkward
contrast to the relatively large share of Excel files that I translate.
As far as translation-specific tasks go, a problem that I have encountered a
number of times concerns the very large size of some Excel files. In the case
of embedded objects, such as graphics or flowcharts, or a very large amount
of data, this may be legitimate, but what also may cause the large file size is
sloppy formatting. Every worksheet from Excel 97 through Excel 2003 on
contains more than 65,000 rows (and Excel 2007 and above contains more
than 1,000,000; see page 164). If only a few of these rows are used, this
large number of potential rows does not contribute to the overall file size.
However, if there is any kind of entry—such as a formatting mark—in any of
the otherwise empty remaining rows, all of them may contribute to the file
size (and it becomes a nightmare to work with these files, especially in a
translation environment tool). The easiest way to fix this (after you have
verified that this is indeed only unintended, sloppy formatting!) is to delete
the unwanted cells. Highlight the first unused row, press
, right-click on the selection, and choose Delete.
Different kinds of Excel-compatible files
One more thing that may be important when using Excel is to understand the
difference between comma-separated (CSV), tab-separated (TXT) and Excel
Many of the more general things that have been said about Word in the previous
section are the same or similar for Excel, including the use of macros (see page
179), customization of toolbars (see page 180) or the Format Painter (see