translating documents

I am curious has anybody used Scrivener for translating documents?
I am certain that the possibility to split the window is useful for keeping both documents side by side.
But what did you use beyond that?

xiamenese, one of the forum’s regular contributors, has posted some very useful tips about using Scrivener for translations. You might find his translation-related posts worthwhile:


thanks, Briar. He does write a lot about translation, but I have not found many posts as to how he does it.

Hi Bluejay,

Basically, I edit translations from Chinese done by other people, which is slightly different. But if I were doing a translation myself, I’d probably work the same way with one or two slight differences. Note too, that, like Briar Kit, I’m on a Mac, though I have had to use the Windows version running under WINE on my Mac because of apparent Chinese coding problems between Mac and Windows early on … my collaborator uses Windows. Also, you don’t say what sort of texts you will be dealing with … technical, literary …

Clearly, the first thing is use a split window, with the source in one pane and the target in the other. Then, as with all things Scrivener, I would recommend breaking up your source into smaller chunks as convenient and creating a target document to match each of those, using labels to mark them and to create a collection for each language — I’ve just mentioned briefly how I do it in another thread, albeit in relation to a different question — though I think you’d have to consider whether or how to use Scrivenings view.

Inspector comments/inline annotations and footnotes, document and project notes, keywords and so on are there to use as you find most helpful. Status marking is useful.

To me, a translation is something one feels one wants to change every time you look at it — one of the challenges facing a translator is to know when to stop! — so for me Snapshots is an essential tool, because I often make an edit and then come back later and think my original, or an earlier version was better, and using Snapshots means I can recover that earlier version easily.

Given that I work with Chinese and its comparatively impenetrable writing system with literally thousands of characters, the thing that I would like but not enough to have spent time hitherto working out the best way to do it, is a custom glossary. I think I’d probably use a spreadsheet that I could link to in Project References, opening it in it’s own window, or perhaps importing it into Research and working from there in a floating window. As I say, I haven’t given that much thought to it. Another solution that occurs to me is to use a keyboard utility — I have TextExpander … Mac only, but similar things must be available for Windows — using the Chinese characters as input which it will automatically expand to an English translation — e.g. \投资 converting automatically to “investment”. But I don’t know how it would cope with the huge quantity of terms without becoming bogged down or hogging memory.

There are a number of other people frequenting — or who have frequented — the forums who use Scrivener for translation, so with any luck they’ll see this thread and say how they use it.


Mr X