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Got a Messy Excel to Translate in memoQ?


Excel files are of much pain for many translators, especially when customers populate Excel cells with HTML contents and/or placeholders such as $username. Most of the CAT tools are hard, if even possible, to configure to interpret cell contents as HTML content, so that HTML formatting tags such as <b> or <span> are rendered as tags instead of plain text content.

Bad and good ideas of customers show much greater variety than a CAT tool could be prepared to handle. memoQ from Kilgray, fortunately, supports many weird situations you may run into. Key features include the filter called Regex tagger, the Multilingual Delimited Text filter and Cascading filters. Cascading or chaining filters enables you to ask memoQ to process the results generated by one filter using another—for example you can create a filter chain in which the first filter is an Excel filter and the second is a HTML filter. This way if your Excel cells contain HTML text, the HTML will appear in memoQ as if you were importing an HTML file. And you can simply export the translated file to an Excel file.

Filter chaining, however, has some inherent limitations. For example, if the second filter is an HTML filter, it can obviously process HTML content, and it can not process content which is not sound HTML. If you receive an Excel file in which cells not only contain HTML text, but additional Excel formatting, such as colored text, you may run into an error message telling Inline tags and memoQ {tags} are allowed to appear only after the last chained filter. This means the first filter not only segmented the source content, but added memoQ tags, and the second filter did not expect any tags. How to come around this? The cascading filter published in this article may give you a solution.

Step 1. View and Prepare the Source

Say you received the following source file (you can download it to test things).

Example source file, yet untouched

Example source file

You can observe three key things to handle:

  • Character formatting in B4.
  • HTML code in B4.
  • The placeholder $username in B3, which should not be translated, as the target system will replace it with the name of a user.

Well, it seems impossible. But hold on. Let’s just prepare this file as usual, and copy all the source to column C, labeling it Target:

Sample source file prepared to import to memoQ

Sample source file prepared to import to memoQ

Step 2. Install the Excel Complex Filter

Install the Excel Complex cascading filter for memoQ, available for free from Imprestige:

  1. Download the filter and save it to your computer, such as your Desktop.
  2. Unzip the file to your Desktop.
  3. Open memoQ, click memoQ > Resources > Resource Console to open the Resource Console.
  4. Click Filter Configurations.
  5. Click Import new under the table of installed filters.
  6. Select ChainedConverter#Excel Complex.mqres and click Open.

You are good to go. And you can delete the downloaded zip file and the extracted filter file, memoQ saved a copy of it to its folders.

Step 3. Import the Prepared File

Create your project in memoQ, if you did not yet create it. And now the magic:

  1. Click Document > the downward arrow on Import > Import with Options. Select your prepared file and click Open.
  2. Select Cascading filter in the Filter drop-down, then select Excel Complex under Configuration:
    Selecting the Excel Complex filter in memoQ during import

    Selecting the Excel Complex filter in memoQ during import

  3. Click Change filter and configuration at the bottom-left of the Document import options dialog. The configuration pane of the filter is displayed, with the Microsoft Excel filter configuration displayed. Here you can select the cells to import. Do so and close the dialog. For the sample file, the range of C3:C4 has to be selected:
    Selecting cells to localize

    Selecting cells to localize

    You can make any other changes you find necessary. See details below in Excel Settings.

  4. Click OK, and when the import finished, open the file in memoQ. You should see a properly formatted file, with the HTML markup converted to red tags, placeholders converted also to red tags, and Excel formatting converted to blue tags like this:
    Sample Excel file imported using the Excel Complex filter

    Sample Excel file imported using the Excel Complex filter

Now you can translate the file. When you are ready, just export it as you usually export files.

Configuration Options

If you want to change settings, or you see some tags are not imported correctly, click Change filter and configuration at the bottom-left of the Document import options dialog displayed in step 2 of the above process after you selected the filter. Settings are displayed on two tabs.

Excel Settings

This is the configuration dialog of the normal Excel filter. Here you can tell how to process the Excel file. If, for example, the Excel file contains comments in column A, source in column B and target in column C, click Comment and context options, and select Import comments, and specify comments are located -2 columns and 0 rows relative to the target text.

Regex Tagger

The tricky part you should only bother with if you are familiar with regular expressions. This page contains regular expressions telling memoQ what kinds of character sequences to treat as one or the other types of tags. If, for example, placeholders in your file are in the form of $$placeholder$$ instead of $placeholder, and you find that the default filter settings do not interpret it properly (if, for example, your source in memoQ displays some of these $ signs as plain characters, instead of converting $$placeholder$$ entirely to a tag), you can fix problems on this page.


Professional with a vision
Gusztáv, the founder and manager of Imprestige Ltd. is an experienced Business Analyst, IT Consultant, Quality Assurance Specialist and Professional Translator, sharing his time between IT projects and translation/localization projects.

Committed to professionalism and quality, in his IT roles he is an evangelist of well-organized software development ensuring agility, productivity and outstanding ROI during the application lifecycle. He is also passionate for creating great user experiences and highly intuitive solutions.

As a translator, Gusztáv belongs to those stimulating and pioneering the creation of clearly speaking translations, realizing that intelligibility and concise phrasing is inevitable in order to enable vendors to exploit the values embedded in their solutions.

For a detailed resume and reference information, please visit: