Translate with WPML

How to Build a Multilingual WordPress Website – Step 5: Translating Content with WPML

Category: Technology, Website Translation

The multilingual WordPress blog trains keep rolling with Step 5, as we learn how to translate content. If you missed Step 4: “Installing WPML,” now worries, you can find that lesson here. And if you’d like your developers to watch a step-by-step video guide on how to translate content with WPML, they can watch it here.

Let’s kick off the content translation process by getting our hands dirty early. In other words, we’re going to manually translate content through WPML—it’s the best way to learn immediately.

Don’t worry and don’t pass out. We would never lead you astray, and we certainly wouldn’t suggest you manually translate substantial amounts of copy. Manual translations should always be “itty bitty” pieces of text. A sentence or a paragraph is fine. Complete articles or pages? Leave that to translation tools and translation experts (hint, hint: Acclaro).

However, you should know how to manually translate content. It helps you learn the ins and outs of the system, and it can come in handy when you’re in a pinch. (Like, say, a fast deadline of ASAP.)

How to Build a Multilingual WordPress Website - Translating Posts

Let’s start with posts. And let’s say you want to translate a particular post to, say, Spanish. In the example above, you can see the “plus” sign below the Spanish flag. It’s a simple, powerful visual cue to help you know what language is your default translation language.

However, we suggest you skip the “plus” sign and “Edit” the post instead. It gives you many more options for translation, especially our favorite option: duplication.

The Power of Duplication

Duplication gives you the peace of mind that all posts have similar content, no matter what language they’ve been translated into. And if you notice under “Translate this Document,” you have the option to Duplicate that article, along with uploaded media and the featured image.

How to Build a Multilingual WordPress Website - Duplicate for Translation

We suggest you duplicate every time, so every article is as similar as possible in every language—both content and images. Once you start manually translating a word or phrase “here and there,” as they say, it’s terribly difficult to keep track of the number of versions, the number of posts and the number of different translations. So remember, Duplicate is your friend.

Now let’s assume that you’ve duplicated your post as described. Well done. You may even notice that your post has a “Spanish (duplicate)” version and a pencil beside that version to edit. This is a bit of a misnomer, because we haven’t yet translated the content. We’ve only translated parts of the content, such as headings of the Posts template that connect all posts (such as Archives, Categories and Dates).

How to Build a Multilingual WordPress Website - Translate Headers

Time to Translate the Actual Content

There are two ways to translate the actual content of a post from the main Posts page of your WordPress website admin.

  1. Click the pencil by each “translated” post
  2. Translate the content through WPML

You can probably guess the best method: through WPML. To do so, simply use the side navigation of your WordPress admin and click on WPML.

How to Build a Multilingual WordPress Website - WPML Translations

This section of the website is where you will manage all of your translations (and where other authors—with access—will also manage translations). Like we mentioned earlier, we have not actually translated any content yet. We’ve only duplicated content, though WordPress may say that translation is complete. It’s not. So remember, if you have not actually translated content, it won’t magically translate on its own. The software isn’t that good yet. It still needs you to lead it.

So let’s see how to translate. Through the WPML > Translations navigation, you can see all of your posts. Choose one and click “Edit.”

How to Build a Multilingual WordPress Website - WPML Translation Navigation

Once you click “Edit” you can see that we have three sections of content we can translate:

  1. The Title
  2. The Body of the Content
  3. The Category of the Post

In this example, you can clearly see that the Title and Body of Content are not translated (though the boxes have been checked). The Category has been translated, so keep that one checked and uncheck Title and Body of Content until they have been translated. Then click “Save and Close.”

Now that you can see the translation page—where the actual translation occurs—you can either translate yourself, by typing into the fields, or you can hand the keys over to a professional translator. By clicking “Resign,” you will no longer be “in charge” of the translation. You officially hand the keys to the next person who logs into your WordPress website.

Or, better yet, you hand the keys and the car to a professional translation service that has a translation connector—so you don’t have to give anyone direct access to your WordPress admin. (Which is very smart. Hand the keys to as few people as possible.)

So that’s it for main content translation (Title and Body).

How to Build a Multilingual WordPress Website - Title and Body Translation

But what if you accidentally erase bits of copy? No worries. Just click the button beside the field you lost the content in (Title or Body) and the original content shows back up. Magic!

In our next blog, we’ll tackle how to translate items around our content, such as sidebars and menus.