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What are the file formats used in translation?

Clara Giampietro - Manufacturing, Technology, Architecture Translation into Italian

This month's post is inspired by some questions I'm often asked by clients:
What are the file formats used in translation?
Can you translate my documents in my file format?
What are the file formats you can work on?

I’ve been translating for fifteen years and file format is a recurring theme with my clients.

Translation buyers work with many different file formats, whether they need to prepare documents, websites, user manuals, software, mobile apps or marketing materials. Just to name a few of them.

They want to know in particular if they’ll have to go through extensive editing of the file layout after receiving the translated file.

The good news for you is that many technical translators can work with (almost) any type of file.

In fact, when translating, they often use Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools that support many different file formats.

For example, I usually work with SDL Trados Studio. It supports over 70 different file types, including some Adobe file formats such as PDFs, generally quite difficult to handle in translation.

Therefore, you won’t have to spend extra time or money hiring another professional for reformatting the translated text—or for doing this work by yourself.

You can continue focusing on your work. Your translator will send you a professionally translated and designed document ready for use, in its original format.

So, let’s see some file formats used in translation.


Whether you need to translate a contract, a PowerPoint presentation or your new user manual, you’ll receive a final document in the same format as the one you sent for translation.

Here are the most common file formats for documents:

  • Microsoft Office (Word: .doc, .dot, .rtf, .docx, .dotx, .docm, .dotm; Excel: .xls, .xlt, .xlsm, .xlsx, .xltm; PowerPoint: .pot, .pps, .ppt, .potm, .potx, .pptm, .pptx)
  • (.odp, .ods, .odt, .sxw, .sxc, .sxi)
  • Google Docs
  • XML Localization Interchange File Format (.xliff)
  • Comma-Separated Values (.csv)
  • Generic text (.txt)
  • Adobe FrameMaker (.fm, .mif)
  • Adobe InDesign (.inx, .idml, .icml)
  • Portable Document Format (.pdf)


Mobile apps are mostly available in English, but only 24% of users are native English speakers.

This is why a translated version of your mobile apps can surely add value to how you offer your products and expand your customer reach.

The file types most often requested for mobile apps are:

  • Extensible Markup Language (.xml)
  • Apple iOS, MacOS, TvOS, and WatchOS (.string)
  • Java (.properties)


From computer programs, on-screen messages to technical manuals and online help documentation, you need to translate your products in their language if you want to bring your software to users all over the world. Below there are the most common file formats for software:
  • Java (.properties, .json)
  • Comma-Separated Values (.csv)
  • Gettext (.po)
  • Generic INI (.ini)
  • Microsoft .NET (.resx)
  • Other software file formats (.dll, .exe, .rc)


If you’re ready to enter a new market your website must speak the language of your visitors. And here I explain to you why.

But you can be assured that the source code will remain unaltered if you send your translator standard web formats such as .xml, .htm or .html.


In conclusion, you now have a clear idea of the various file formats widely used in translation.

Knowing them is important for you to be ready for your next translation project.

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