Website Translation How-To

Project Gutenberg welcomes other language versions of it’s website. If you want to help, please read this how-to.

What do you need?

For translating PG’s website into your native language you will need to know English and how to edit wikis. Please visit the Editor’s Help page.

How long will the translation take?

It depends on the number of translators. As of January 2007 PG’s documentation had about 130.000 words (the equivalent to a 400 page book). The first translation (Portuguese) took 5 months (one main translator and two supporters).

Creating an account

The first thing to do is create an account in order to able to edit PG’s Wiki.

International code for your language

All pages in a language other than English must have a special prefix–the international code for that language. This makes it easier to organize them and, if needed, to develop some scripts for special features.

You can learn the code by looking at the status window of your browser while moving your cursor over the language at this page.

Eg. the code for Portuguese is PT, for French it’s FR, for Spanish ES, etc.

Creating a coordination page

You’ll need to have a page where you can coordinate the translation job with other potential translators. It will depend on if you work alone, with some friends or with total strangers.

That page is going to be viewed very often so get sure it is easy to find and to edit.

Our first translators, the Portuguese, used the page “PT Traduzir” (which means “PT Translate”) for this purpose.

You just need to type it in the “search site” form at the sidebar and then click Go. You’ll be prompted to a page saying that your search did not find any results, where you will get a “create this page” link. Click it and save your newborn page.

Another alternative is just making a link from your user page.

Coordination page

In your coordination page you should probably write some tips for other users who may want to help you. You should also organize it in accordance with the way you expect the work is going to be done. In this how-to we will assume that you are a general coordinator and that you want the help of other volunteers.

You can show the Special:Allpages link, which lists all the wiki pages from where your translators can choose from.

It’s also a good idea to create sections for pages being translated and already translated where you should ask your translators to add their user names when they start translating a page.

You can also add some content of this how-to, editing tips or links to on-line English-Target Language dictionaries. You are the coordinator so you know better than anyone what your community needs.

Creating the translated pages


All pages in your language (translations or not) must always have your language code.

For translations of Gutenberg: namespace, you should add “-PG” to your language code. For instance PT-PG, FR-PG, DE-PG…

Deciding the translated page’s name

Different translators may prefer different translations for the same word. So you’ll have to find a way of deciding which phrasing you’ll use.

You can discuss it in your coordination page’s talk. After settling how to translate the words, it will be easier to translate the name of the pages.

If you start alone, no discussion is possible – you’ll actually have to decide the page names yourself. You should probably browse through the site to see what shows more often and in what context.

These expressions will occur very often: copyright, copyright clearance, online, offline, catalog, collection, free, ebook, posting, submitting, FAQ, how-to,… “Project Gutenberg” is a trademark so it’s better not to translate it, but you can use things like “Projecto Gutenberg” or “Projekt Gutenberg” in talk pages, for people googling those.

Starting to translate

What to translate first

What to translate first depends on your strategy. You can make a Main Page version for your language at first so that you can get other translators to help you more easily. You can translate the pages linked from the main page first. You can translate everything meant to raise volunteers first. Volunteers’ FAQ and Volunteers Voices are the biggest pages in PG’s wiki.

Marking the pages as being translated

When you choose a page to translate, mark it in the coordination page. Like this:

= Being Translated =

===== [[User:Me]] =====

* [[Gutenberg:Page 1]] to [[PT-PG Página 1]]

Importing the original text

First thing to do when starting to translate a page is importing the whole source page. You can do that by going to the original and clicking “Edit” in the left sidebar (not the edit links on the right!).

You can import it into your text editor and upload a completed translation of that page (in the meanwhile it should display “this page is being translated”); or you can import the entire English text, paste it into the target page and translate it section by section .


Keep all formatting according to the original (bold, italics, headings, indentations, wiki codes,…)

It’s probably the best not to translate links inside the pages in the beginning of the process. The translation will be unstable for a while since you will change your mind a lot of times in what concerns the phrasing.

Do it in the end, when you do a final proofreading of the whole translation.


In some cases you’ll probably feel the need to add some text meant for your fellow readers. So you can do it by adding notes. Add your language code in those, eg.:

''(Nota PT:'' text '')''

In each page, please add an interlanguage link to all the other versions. Do it at the end of the page.

At the moment, there are the English and Portuguese versions so in your page you’ll have to add:

[[en:Name of the English Page]]
[[pt:Name of the Portuguese Page]]

and in both of the pages above you must add a link to your translation. Say, it’s for Dutch:

[[nl:Name of the Dutch Page]]

If you can’t edit protected pages, ask your language coordinator. You can also ask Marcello for some special privileges.


Categorizing is not so hard but you need to pay attention. Each translation of Gutenberg: namespace pages must have two categories: one saying it’s a translation of the original documentation (LanguageCode -PG) and another one saying what the subject is (LanguageCode Subject).

In the beginning of your translated page add:

{{Cat|category text}}

The Portuguese have translated “FAQ” has “PergFreq”. So for the original pages categorized as “FAQ”, they’ve used:

{{Cat|PT-PG}} {{Cat|PT PergFreq}}

Save the page and then browse it. In the ending, you’ll see the categories you have created in bright red. Click the category. It will open a page saying the category has not been edited. In that page add the text:


This way your categories will become a subcategory of the Categories category. (Confusing?) Michael Hart’s Essays are already a subcategory under the About category. You’ll have to pay extra attention on those.

Watching the original page

Always add the original page to your watch list. This way you will be notified when they are changed so that you synchronize your version with the original. (Remember enabling minor changes notifications in your user preferences page.)

Kind of language used

When you can translate a word in two different ways meaning the same, use the easiest to understand by common readers.

Final Proofreading

After having a raw translation of all the pages, you should read the entire website, correcting errors, bad translations and fixing links.

You will probably feel the need to delete some pages (eg.: because you have found a better translation for a page title). Create the new page and insert the text

{{delete reason why you want to delete the page}}

in the old one. You can also ask a sysop’s help.

During this stage, make it clear to your translators that if they change any headings or titles they must check that all the links referring to those are also changed. Otherwise, some volunteer will be breaking links that another one is fixing.