Tip: Getting word counts from Excel files

Getting word counts from Microsoft® Excel files is a common and frustrating task for translators and writers and general.

One common approach is to save the worksheet as a text file, then open that in Word and use the Word Count feature. This approach has some problems, though: you can only save one worksheet at a time, and text in text boxes isn’t saved, so you could end up with a word count that’s too low. Not to mention the time and hassle involved.

About a year ago, I did a huge translation that literally consisted of hundreds of Excel files and thousands of worksheets. Counting the words in each file using the MS Word method would have driven me batty.

If you use Windows and often need to get word counts from Excel files, I recommend my free program, Count Anything. Just click the “Count” button, drag and drop your Excel files into the dialog, and click OK.

Drag and drop Excel files into the dialog box

You’ll end up with a nicely formatted report that you can drill down on, print, or save as an HTML or text file.

Results of Excel file word count

Click here to download the free Count Anything program.

Felix tips

Felix tip: If the Felix menus/toolbars don’t show up

If one of your MS Office programs (Word, Excel, or PowerPoint) crashes, the Felix menu and toolbar might not appear the next time you start that program. This could be because Office has disabled the Felix add-in.

To enable the add-in, do the following.

On Office 2000/XP/2003

  1. From the Help menu, select About Microsoft Office XXX (where XXX is Word, Excel, or PowerPoint).
  2. At the bottom of the dialog box, click Disabled Items.
  3. If Felix is on the list, enable it, and restart the program.

On Office 2007

  1. Click on the Office button (the round button in the upper left of the window).
    Microsoft Office button
  2. Click on Word/Excel/PowerPoint Options.
  3. In the left panel, click Add-ins.
  4. If Felix is in the list of disabled add-ins, then set the “Manage” list at the bottom of the window to “COM Add-ins”, and click Go. Select the “Felix Addin” checkbox, and click OK.

    If Felix isn’t on the list of disabled items, set the “Manage” list at the bottom to “Disabled Items”, and click Go. Enable “Felix Addin”, and click OK.

  5. Close the Options dialog, and restart Word/Excel/PowerPoint.

If the problem persists

If the problem persists, please consider sending me your Felix log files. To do this:

  1. From the Start menu, select All Programs >> Assistant Suite >> Felix >> Show Logs.
  2. Click the Send button.
  3. If you use Microsoft Outlook for email, it will ask you if you want to give permission for an external program to use email. Allow access, and then send the email with the log files attached.
Other tools

Using Microsoft Excel as a glossary-conversion tool

As translators, we get glossaries in all sorts of formats: XML, HTML, tab-delimited text, comma-separated value (CSV), …

A good example is the Microsoft terminology glossary: a monstrous CSV file of terminology used for localizing Microsoft user interafaces.

We often need to convert these glossaries into other formats, especially to get them into a terminology management program. Microsoft Excel is actually a great tool for doing this. It can open all the formats listed above, and more. Using Felix, you could then import the glossary directly, or if you’re using some other tool, you could save the glossary in many popular formats, such as tab-delimited text or csv; chances are your terminology manager will support one of them.

Another cool trick with Excel is loading glossaries from the Internet. When Excel is installed, the context menu in Internet Explorer gets an “Export to Microsoft Excel” command; so when you have a glossary in a table on a website, you can simply right click on it, export it to Excel, and from there put it into any of a number of formats.

Export to Microsoft Excel menu selection

Of course, there are limitations to using Excel as an intermediary for glossary conversion. The main one is when terminology managers use special formats, which Excel can’t interpret in a meaningful way. In this case, you can often get around it by using one of the generic “save as” file options of your terminology manager.

Felix tips

Felix tip: Review mode

Often after you’ve translated a Word document using Felix, you’ll need to make changes to your translation. You might have noticed a mistake as you reviewed your translation, or your client may have sent back edits. Ideally, any changes you make to your translation should be reflected in your Felix TM.

That’s what Review mode is for. Review mode is just like ordinary translation mode, except that you look up translations instead of source segments; and when you register a segment, instead of adding a new translation unit (TU), the existing one is modified with your corrections.

To get to Review mode, click the “Switch mode” button on the toolbar.

Switch to review mode button

You can also select Switch to Review Mode from the menu.

Switch to review mode menu item

When you’re in review mode, the colors of the buttons are reversed, and an asterisk in brackets ([*]) is shown next to the Felix menu.

Review mode in Word

You look up sentences just like in translation mode (see the quick-start tutorial for a brief overview), but instead of source segments, you’re looking up translations already in your TM.

Lookup from review mode

Make any corrections to the translation, then correct your translation just like registering a translation in Translation mode. Any edits will be reflected in your TM.

Review mode is also a handy way to check your translation, because you can see the source and translation side by side in the Felix window as you go.

To switch back to translation mode, click the “Switch” button again.

Switch back to translation mode button