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Onboarding guide for translators

Learn how to get started with Phrase, and deliver high-quality translations fast and reliably.

SaaS solutions for translation and localization popularized over the last few decades can make all the difference in translation speed and quality. However, the most available tools tend to be complex to learn to use.

Phrase is simple and easy to understand for translators from the very start. With an intuitive user interface packed with handy features, it can save them a significant amount of time and increase their output.

Learn the basics of working with Phrase as a translator—with this comprehensive guide.

Phrase Basics

Phrase is a platform geared towards software localization that allows different teams to work together in the cloud. It includes six predefined Roles:

  • Administrator
  • Project Manager
  • Developer
  • Translator
  • Designer
  • Guest

Translators receive an invitation from their client with an assignment to one or more specific Projects and to translation Jobs within them. Besides this, your client’s invite will detail your role, as well the Teams and Spaces to which you’ve been added (if any). We will explain each of these concepts in a moment.

This is what a translator’s invitation to join looks like:

1_Translator sign up_1

After accepting the invitation and registering to join your client’s Phrase organization (or logging in with your existing credentials, if you already have them), you can head to the Projects Dashboard and check whether your client has assigned any Projects to you. You can then start working on them straight away!

2_Translator sign up_2

The Translation Workflow

Before reaching translators, all translation work needs to go through a series of previous steps, of which the other Roles, as mentioned earlier, are in charge (each Role has a pre-defined set of permissions).

First, developers or designers divide the copy in translation strings called Keys (what CAT tools usually call ‘segments’). Next, project managers add context to these Keys and group them in translation Jobs (we will expand on Jobs shortly) inside a Project.

For each Job, a PM then defines a Locale (a combination of a language and region, such as ‘Mexican Spanish’), as well as a due date. They then assign users to the job, i.e., the linguists who will complete the translation work. That’s where you come into play as a translator.

Translation Jobs

As explained above, your client will assign you to a translation Job that will contain Keys for you to translate according to a Job’s specified due date and instructions (project managers may add a brief to the Job, so you have everything you need in one place).

When you are assigned to a Job, you get an automatic email notification that includes a ‘Translate’ button. This button takes you to a translation environment called Translation Editor – more on that below. Once in this environment, simply perform your translation work as usual, check your progress from the Jobs Dashboard if you need to, and click on ‘Mark completed’ when you’ve finished.


Alternatively to accessing the Job from your email notification, you can do it from the tab Jobs in Phrase. Find this tab in the navigation bar. Access the Jobs Dashboard to see what work you need to complete; this is what it looks like:


On the Job page, you can hold discussions with other team members in the ‘Comments section; simple type @username to tag the person you want to see your comment:


To learn more about translation Jobs, check out this Help Center article.


Earlier in this guide, we explained that a Locale is a combination of a language and a region (e.g., ‘de-DE’ is German from Germany). Every Project in Phrase requires setting a Locale (Phrase supports all written languages!). As a translator, from the Languages tab, you can see all the languages included in a Project and which Locales you have permission to access.

Additionally, if your client is not using Jobs to groups their Keys, you can use the Languages tab to check which Keys still need translation in your language.

For more information about Languages and Locales, check out this article.

3_Languages screenshot

Projects and Spaces

Earlier in this guide, we mentioned that project managers create translation Jobs within Projects. Details of each Project can be seen in the Project Dashboard, which gives you an overview of its progress; this is what the Project Dashboard looks like:


By the same containment logic, project managers also arrange Projects logically within folder-like locations called Spaces

Spaces are great for organizations with dozens of Projects that need a logical structure to keep all elements of the localization workflow organized. Project managers can then assign you to an entire Space so you can work on all Projects within it. Find more details about Projects and Spaces here.

For example, they could organize ten Projects under two different Spaces called ‘Mobile’ and ‘Web’, with five Projects in each one, and give you access to both Spaces. Whenever they create a new Project within either of these two Spaces, you will also receive automatic access to it. This is what Spaces look like in Phrase:

4_Translator sign up_5

Working in the Translation Editor

The Translation Editor is where translators carry out the actual translation work. You can access the Editor by clicking on the ‘Translate’ button of a Phrase Job or in the automatic email notification that you receive when a project manager assigns you to a Job. You can also open the Editor by clicking on a language in the Languages tab. Once you open the Translation Editor, you will see something like this:


As you can see, all the Keys (segments) that are ready for translation appear on the left-hand side of the screen. When you click on one of them, you find the source text in the upper-middle section of the screen and a text box to insert your translation right underneath. To save your translation, you click on the blue ‘Save’ button under the translation window. 

So far, the user interface’s anatomy is similar to that of most CAT tools: a source text divided into segments and a place to insert your translation of each of them. However, Phrase’s Translation Editor offers some additional helpful functionalities that will save you time and effort:

Basic and Advanced Search

Use the search feature on the screen’s top left to find matches in Key names and translation copy. Choose between Basic and Advanced Search depending on the precision you need; e.g., for case-sensitive matches, you need the latter search mode.

With both search modes, you can then order and filter the results. Refer to this article for more detailed information about the Translation Editor’s search feature.


Sidebar Tabs

On the right-hand side of the screen, you will see a sidebar with a few useful tabs:


  • Context: This tab is where project managers, designers, and developers can add instructions and screenshots to provide you with more context.
  • Comments: Ask questions to other team members and have discussions around the relevant Job.
  • Suggestions: Every Job includes a built-in Translation Memory, and you can get real-time partial or total hits as you translate.
    • Changes: (previously History) When a translation is updated, all previous versions are stored and shown here. This tab also allows you to restore a past translation.
    • All Languages: See what other languages have been configured for this Job and look for all translations for a specific Key.
      • Term Base: (previously Glossary) If the Job has any term bases attached, the terms in it will be underlined in the source copy and will also show in this tab. Apply the correct translation with a simple click on the relevant hit.
      • Machine Translation: If you need to use machine translation, you can do it from this tab with just a click.
      • Meta: This tab shows meta-information about the selected Key, such as its author, type, creation date and ID.

      Other Translation Editor Features

      The sidebar tabs are just a part of everything Phrase has to offer to translators. Benefit also from the below functionalities:

      • Placeholders: Translating around placeholders can be tricky, but not with Phrase; they are highlighted in the editor window, and you can quickly check that you’ve included them all in your translation. Read more about placeholders here.
      • Character Limit: Project managers can set character limitations for Keys, so you stick to a certain length – you can see how many characters you’ve got just left as you translate.
      • Autocomplete: (previously SmartSuggest) This feature is similar to predictive text in a smartphone. When it’s enabled, you get suggestions from the Term Base or Translation Memory as you type your translation. More about Autocomplete here.
      • Pre-Translation: (previously Autofill) If your client is in a bit of a hurry, they might use this feature to translate new content automatically through a combination of Translation Memory input and Machine Translation. Pre-translated Keys are marked as unverified, so you can proofread them.

      Working in the In-Context Editor

      Some project managers prefer translators to work directly on the company’s website as they browse it. With Phrase’s In-Context Editor (ICE), it’s possible! You can translate with maximum context and use the live preview to see what your translation will look like on the website interface.

      To enter the ICE, head over to the ‘Context’ tab on the Translation Editor’s sidebar and click on the link under ‘Context View’. Do consider, however, that this link will only be available if developers have previously installed the ICE and configured it for the Project at hand. Would you like to practice using the ICE? Head over to this demo! Alternatively, learn everything about ICE here. 


      Review Workflow

      It’s not uncommon for source content to change, so Phrase has made it easy to update translations accordingly by triggering the automatic ‘unverification’ of Keys whenever the source content suffers modifications. We call this function Basic Review Workflow.

      Some other times, project managers will implement what we call Advanced Review Workflow: this function requires, by default, that specific proofreaders (it could be you or someone in a different team, like Marketing or Product) sign off all content before it’s published.

      Style Guide

      In addition to contextual information such as screenshots, briefs, or even the ICE, your client can create a Style Guide to provide you with instructions around language use, tone of voice, target audience, spelling, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and more.

      After answering a few predefined questions around the areas mentioned above, project managers will share the link with you and other internal and external translators, so you can produce work that is on-point both linguistically and in terms of branding. 

      Exporting XLIFF Files to Your CAT Tool and Uploading Them Back to Phrase

      With Phrase, the interoperability between translation tools is possible through the download and upload of XLIFF files.

      From the Jobs Dashboard, you can download Jobs in XLIFF format by clicking on the ‘Download XLIFF’ button on the very right of your language row.

      5_translator download xliff fileOnce you are ready to upload the translated file, click on the ‘More’ tab and select ‘Upload FIle’. A new window will open; there, you’ll be prompted to select the translated file from your computer and choose among some settings related to language detection, content over-riding, tags, placeholders, and more.

      6_translator upload xliff file _1

      7_translator upload xliff file_2

      Consolidate Your Knowledge

      Now that you’ve read about every handy attribute that Phrase offers translators, it’s time to watch our ‘Onboarding for Translators’ webinar for visual recapitulation.

      Finally, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.