Translation process with XLIFF.

How can the use of XLIFF files support your translation process?

The translation of Annual or Sustainability Reports takes a lot of time and resources. In this post we explain how this process can be improved by using Computer assisted translation (CAT) tools and XLIFF files.

A simple XLIFF file can be described as a collection of different translation units (or: “strings”). Each translation unit usually contains a sentence or paragraph and is composed of a source element and a target element.

General XLIFF translation workflow

The main ideas behind using CAT software in general are efficiency and consistency. Using Translation memory and Term base increases consistency and productivity within a translation process and results in lower costs. Also Corporate language guidelines can be implemented quite easy with the help of CAT tools.

In terms of the format XLIFF is a perfect fit for CAT tools. In an XLIFF file all text units (strings) are separated from the layout information. While translating the formats stay untouched and can be reimported anytime.

To reduce the amount of work you have in your whole translation process it is best to keep updates to a minimum and define a detailed timing for sending and receiving the updates.

XLIFF translation workflow at nexxar

Here at nexxar we are using XLIFF files for some projects in the following way:

  • We style the content of the digital report as a whole or chapter-wise in our CMS.
  • We export the report/chapters to XLIFF files.
  • These XLIFF files are imported into translation software tools like Trados by the translation agency.
  • After translation we import the fully formatted files into our system again.
  • In the end we can create the digital report, the web PDF, the printed report and apps from this one source.

Working this way, it is also possible to include proofreading of the source language file, which means the first language of the report.


In order to set up your translation workflow with XLIFF files you need to meet two requirements: First of all you should use a CAT tool for translation. And second you should use an editing system (CMS) that is capable of exporting and importing XLIFF files.

Once set up properly you have the following advantages:

  • The different report formats can be created from this one source in the different language versions.
  • Formatting in one language can be easily incorporated into the other languages.
  • Updating the formats in the source language can be aligned with content updates and are easily imported in the other languages.
  • Only a small number of layout fixes for PDFs/printed reports are required this way.