Can DITA topics be automatically translated using machine translation?

DITA topics can be automatically translated using machine translation (MT) tools to streamline the localization process. MT is a technology that automatically translates content from one language to another, often with the help of AI and neural networks. When applied to DITA topics, it accelerates the translation of large volumes of content, although it may not always produce human-quality translations.

What is Machine Translation?

Machine translation is a technology that uses algorithms, artificial intelligence, and neural networks to automatically translate text from one language to another. There are various MT tools available, including Google Translate, DeepL, and many others.

Integration with DITA Topics

DITA topics can be integrated with machine translation tools to facilitate automatic translation. The integration often involves exporting DITA topics into a format compatible with the MT tool. This can be done manually or programmatically.

Machine translation is highly efficient when translating a large volume of content quickly. For organizations with extensive documentation in multiple languages, MT can be a valuable time-saving resource.

It’s important to note that machine translation has limitations. While it can be a powerful tool for quickly obtaining translations, it may not always produce high-quality, contextually accurate translations. Output quality can vary depending on the MT tool, language pairs, and the complexity of the content. A professional translation team should always be consulted to verify any machine translations, especially where context and specificity are crucial.


A software company uses DITA for its product documentation. They have a large number of DITA topics that need to be translated into multiple languages to serve a global customer base. Instead of manually translating each topic, they decide to use a machine translation tool for efficiency.

Exporting DITA Topics:

The company exports its DITA topics into a format compatible with the selected machine translation tool. For example, they may export the content into plain text or a format like XLIFF (XML Localization Interchange File Format).

Machine Translation:

They use a machine translation tool to translate the content into the desired languages. The tool automatically generates translations for each topic.

Review and Post-Editing:

The translated content is reviewed and, if necessary, post-edited by human translators to improve quality, ensure accuracy, and adapt the content to the cultural context.

Reintegration into DITA:

Once the translations are finalized, the content is reintegrated into the DITA topics, replacing the source language content with the translated versions.