What is the role of the <translate> element in DITA for translation notes?

The <translate> element in DITA plays a significant role in indicating that specific content or phrases should be considered for translation. This element aids in the management of translation processes and helps localization teams identify segments requiring translation.

Application of the <translate> Element:

The application of the <translate> element involves marking content for translation, localization workflow, phrases or sentences, integration with translation tools, and content reuse.

Marking Content for Translation:

The <translate> element, when added to DITA content, serves as a marker indicating that the enclosed text or content should be considered for translation. It typically surrounds the content that needs to be translated.

Localization Workflow:

When content is marked with <translate>, it becomes part of the localization workflow. Localization tools or translation management systems recognize these markers and extract the text for translation.

Phrases or Sentences:

The <translate> element is often used to specify smaller segments of content, such as phrases or sentences, that need translation. This is particularly useful when only parts of a document require translation.

Integration with Translation Tools:

DITA content with <translate> elements can be exported to translation tools, where translation professionals can work on the identified segments. Once translated, the content is reintegrated into the DITA documents.

Content Reuse and Variation:

In cases where content is reused across documents or topics, the <translate> element can be used to indicate that variations of the content in different languages should be considered for translation.


A DITA-based user manual for a software application contains a specific phrase for translation.

  <p>This is an <translate>important message</translate> for all users.</p>

In this example, the phrase “important message” is enclosed within the <translate> element. This tells localization teams that this particular phrase should be extracted and translated. The rest of the content remains in the source language.