3. How to correctly translate a message

Let's use the following message as an example of what to do:

Overwrite existing file

If you have used the translatexxe command-line utility to generate a text file, the above message will look like this:

Overwrite existing file\n\

Let's suppose you have translated it to French as follows:

écraser le fichier existant {0}

The above translation has several mistakes:

The correct translation is:

Écraser le fichier existant

If you have used the translatexxe command-line utility to generate a text file, the correct translation is:

Écraser le fichier existant\n\

Note that what follows, though less readable, is correct too:

Écraser le fichier existant\n"{0}"?

3.1. Menu mnemonics

Some messages contain one underscore character ('_'). Menu examples: "_File", "_Edit", "_Search". Menu item examples: "_New", "_Open...", "_Save", "Save _As...". Such messages are labels for menus, menu items and buttons. The underscore is located just before the letter which is used as a mnemonic.


  • The location of the underscore depends on the target language.

    Example: in English, Alt+F opens the File menu because the underscored letter is F (i.e. "_File"). In German, the File menu is called Datei and the underscored letter could be D (i.e. "_Datei").

  • Only letters A to Z, a to z and digits 0 to 9 may be underscored. Do not underscore accented letters (examples: É, à).

  • Do not underscore the same letter, no matter its case, twice in the same GUI component (same menu bar, same menu, same dialog box, etc).

  • Because all the above constraints are quite difficult to satisfy, it is better not to use this facility at all rather than using it inconsistently. In conclusion, if you find that specifying mnemonics this way is too tedious, then do not hesitate to drop the underscore character from all the messages you'll translate.

3.2. Captions found in the main tool bar

The main tool bar contains button groups having captions (e.g "File", "Edit"). Some of the buttons have short descriptions (e.g. "Find & Replace", "Remark").

The corresponding messages must be kept very short — at most two words long (about 20 characters) — and must have all their words capitalized. For example, translate "Find & Replace" to "Rechercher & Remplacer" and not by "Rechercher et remplacer".