Using the New Mini Translator in Office 2010

Using the New Mini Translator in Office 2010

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The Professor

A Lesson by The Professor

Using the New Mini Translator  in Office 2010


Allow me to introduce myself. I have traveled far and taught at many universities. I have seen how people everywhere around the world use computers to reach their full potential and connect with others. And now, I have joined with the Office Global Experience team because people need to understand how much Office has to offer to our global customers. Starting today, I will conduct classes periodically through this blog. I'll even have quizzes and homework if you really want to shine. If you come to my class – be ready to learn! So, let us begin…

Our lesson today is about using an exciting new feature in Office 2010 called the Mini Translator!

The Mini Translator provides on-the-fly translation as you select a word or phrase and provides dictionary definitions of individual words. With the Microsoft Office 2010 Mini Translator, you can point to a word or selected phrase with your mouse, and the translation will display in a small window. The Mini Translator also includes a Play button so you can hear an audio pronunciation of the word or phrase using a text-to-speech engine. A Copy button is also available so that you can paste the translation into another document. You can use the Mini Translator in Word, Outlook, OneNote and PowerPoint.

The great thing about Mini Translator and Office applications is that it works the same way in all of the applications. So if our lesson today takes you through the Word application, you can rest assured that you've learned the basic information you need to use the same feature in OneNote, Outlook and PowerPoint! One lesson, four applications – what a return on investment!

So, now that you know what Mini Translator does, it's time to learn about how to do it!

1. Start your Word 2010 application and either open a document or type some text.

If you want to have Word give you three quick paragraphs of text - at the beginning of the Word document - type: =rand() and press the Enter key. If you want to control the number of paragraphs you'd like, type it between the parentheses
=rand(5) and then press the Enter key.

Go ahead, try it... I'll wait.

2. Now that you have text in your document, let's verify the Mini Translator feature is turned on!

3. Click on the Review tab, and then the Translate Button.

Review Tab / Translate

4. The Mini Translator is turned on and off by clicking Mini Translator.

If the Mini Translator icon is highlighted, it is turned on.

Mini Translator ON

If the Mini Translator icon is not highlighted, it is turned off.

Mini Translator OFF

Note:  The translation language will always show in the menu whether the MiniTranslator is on or off.


5. When you click on it the first time, it will bring up the Translation Language Options dialog, or you can click on the Choose Your Translation Language option, and click on Mini Translator to see the below dialog:

Translation Language Options

6. Here, you can choose what language you'd like to have your text translated into. Click on the arrow in the Translate To list:

Choose Translation Language

7. Once you select the language you'd like the text translated to – click OK to save the selection and close the dialog.

How can you verify that the Mini Translator is really 'ON'?

How can you tell what language the Mini Translator will translate to without opening the Translation Language Options dialog?

Clue: See step 4.

8. Now that you have Mini Translator turned on – you simply select the text you want to translate and hover over it:

Hover and Mini Translator Appears

9. You might be wondering what else you can do with the Mini Translator – good question!

If you want more information, you can open the Research pane from the Mini Translator, by clicking Expand.


If you want to copy the contents of the Mini Translator window to the Clipboard - in the Mini Translator, click Copy. You can now paste the translation as you wish.


If you want to hear the text, in the Mini Translator, click Play. (You must have speakers and the text to speech engine for that language.)


10. Hovering over a single word will allow the Mini Translator to show the Bilingual Dictionary:

BiLingual Dictionary

Ok class that is the lesson for today for the basic usage of Mini Translator!

  • Turn on and off Mini Translator in each of the following applications:
    • Word (should be easy, you've already done it here!)
    • PowerPoint and OneNote (should be easy, just like Word)
    • Outlook - you will need to open the email to see the Message tab which is where you will find the Translate button.
  • Change the 'Translate To' in the Translation Language Options dialog:
    • Try different languages
    • Try the Encarta Dictionary
  • Explore the other options of the Translate feature. (Available off of the Review menu).


Future lessons will explore the other options of the Translate feature and will drill down into more specifics about the capabilities of Mini Translator.

If you have questions, I'm always available – just leave a note below and I will respond as soon as I can!

Happy Translating!

The Professor

PS.  I would like to offer recognition to Sandy Rivas for her significant contribution on this article.  Sandy is a Software Development Engineer in Test at Microsoft with the Office Global Experience Platform team based out of Redmond, Washington, USA.  Sandy and her team are responsible for designing, developing and testing the Mini Translator feature as well as bringing you these blogs - they are busy folks!  


The example companies, organizations, products, domain names, email addresses, logos, people and events depicted herein are fictitious. No association with any real company, organization, product, domain name, e-mail address, logo, person, or event is intended or should be inferred.

  • That's a pretty interesting feature. I hope that the Mini Translator doesn't use Microsoft Anna in Windows Vista to spell a text in Spanish or French.

    Will Microsoft include a speech engine for these languages? How will it be in Windows XP, in Vista or in Windows 7?

    Best regards,


  • Great feature; one thing I noted translating from English to Italian is that the app retains the English structure of the phrase: specifically in English the adjective always preceed the related word while in Italian is the opposite; for example:

    American Express would greatly appreciate your feedback

    is translated as:

    American Express notevolmente apprezzerebbe le vostre risposte

    while in Italian should be:

    American Express apprezzerebbe notevolmente le vostre risposte

    I would not consider this a very serious issue although if the fix could be easily implemented the translation will be very much enhanced.

  • Hello Jorge,

    Thanks for your comments. Regarding your question, Text-to-speech engines are included as part of the operating system or can be obtained from 3rd party providers. Office doesn’t include additional text-to-speech engines and Mini-Translator relies on those already installed on the computer. You can configure your preferred Speech Properties (including default voice) using Windows’ Control Panel. For more information regarding Microsoft’s speech technologies, please visit MSDN or

    The Professor

  • Hello Stefano,

    Thank you for your feedback. As you can imagine, automated language translation is extremely difficult, as the meaning of words and phrases often depends on the context and specialized knowledge of the domain area or culture. As you’ve noted, sentence structures and grammatical rules vary significantly between two languages, which adds to the complexity of the translation and may produce text that is not completely accurate.  The research team is continuously working on improvements and the quality of translation for some language is already improving; however, as with any emerging technology, we still have work to do. You can find more information about Microsoft Translator at

    The Professor

  • Is it possible to create my own custom translation for specific words. For example if a small business owner wants to encourage his employees to use always the same translation for technical terms that are unique to their line of business, he might want to deploy a custom bilingual dictionary that includes the "approved" list of translation for the specific list of technical terminology. Is this possible in Office 2010 (or does this even exist in previous Office/Word versions?)

  • Hi Markus,

     Yes, it is possible to customize the service. Please see this blog for more information:

    The Professor

  • I love the mini translator, but it would be great to be able to use the mini translator in reading mode/slide show mode in power point.  As a student, I find reading powerpoint notes is best in reading mode, because you can't accidentally change the content without going into full screen, but it's certainly a hassle to exit reading mode, scroll to the slide you want to look up a word for (when switching views, the normal view doesn't go to the slide you were reading but the original slide before you switch to reading mode), just thought it would be great to be able to use mini translator in reading mode in general (for Word, OneNote [which I think should have a web page view like word], etc)

  • Thanks very much, Karmen, for this interesting and thoughtful feedback.  We hadn't considered this particular scenario before, and will certainly remember your suggestion when deciding which improvements we'll be making to the mini translator.  Your effort in submitting this feedback is greatly appreciated!

  • I was encouraged with this software as it reads to you.  This is what a blind person needs.

  • Hi Kazim, unfortunately this can't be accomplished through the Mini Translator right now because it depends on to do the translations, and Bing Translator doesn't currently support translation to Urdu.  You can probably find their language release schedule - if you can't, then try asking about Urdu on their forums.

  • لما عفوت ولم أحقد على أحدٍأرحت نفسي من هم العداوات

    إني أحيي عدوي عند رؤيتـهأدفع الشر عنـي  بالتحيـات

    وأظهر البشر للإنسان أبغضهكما أن قد حشى قلبي محبات

    الناس داء ودواء الناس قربهموفي اعتزالهم قطع المـودات

  • اود الحصول ترجمة واضحة خصوصا فى الابحاث العلمية

  • هذا ما كنت ابحث عنه ليس اليوم فقط ولكن من مدة لا تقل عن 10 سنوات

    اشكركم مجهود مشكور واتمنى لكم المزيد من الرقى

  • hello , i'd like to translate a book from romanian to english.....what do you recomand me?

    thank you !

  • Hi Irene, if your book happens to be a word document, then one option is to use Word 2010's "translate document" feature.  You'll find it in the ribbon.  Otherwise, one of these tools might be more helpful:

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