The Tao of the Guerrilla Translator

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Welcome to the Tao of the Guerrilla Translator! The TotGT is a step-by-step itinerary describing the full journey of a translation project. The Tao is primarily centered on our pro-bono translation work and focuses on material destined to be published in our web magazine. On the other hand, much of the procedure described herein can be applied to the paid translation work we take on as an agency.

How to use this guide

Each of the different sections below thoroughly detail the different steps a “ Love Work project” takes, from reading an article and considering it for translation/curation, through translation and editing, to formatting, publication and promotion. Of course we'll explore our workflow tools, but we'll also talk about the protocols we employ to optimize these tools.

Every section in this page contains a brief overview of each step in the process, as well as links to more thorough wiki entries describing the concrete aspects of each section. All sections will be accompanied by short screen-cast videos (once completed) explaining these processes.

Keep in mind that the figure of the “Guerrilla Translator” described herein will be akin to the Hero with a Thousand Faces. We will show the Guerrilla Translator taking on different roles (curator, translator, editor, etc.) although in reality, some of these processes will be carried out by different persons within a project.

Finally, given the variety of material we have, this is not a one-size-fits-all guide. There will be exceptions, projects with different needs, and changes made to the procedures over time. The intention here isn’t to present an inviolable template, but an expedient way to make yourself familiar with our method. Once you feel comfortable with what we have outlined, you will likely expand on it and adapt it to both your own needs as a Guerrilla Translator as well as to the needs of each project. For this itinerary we have, as a working example, chosen a Standard Translation, target Spanish and with no video content.

Is everybody in? The ceremony is about to begin….

Main steps in the Tao of the Guerrilla Translator

Before getting down to the nitty-gritty, we’d like to highlight four distinct areas in the process.

1: Content curation, choosing the team – Wherein the Guerrilla Translator reads something outstanding, wants to share it with the group, who together consider whether and how to organize the material as a project. Jump to this section

2: Pre-production, translation and editing process – Wherein the Guerrilla Translator Enters the material into our workflow system. Authors are contacted for permission, and the material is translated and edited. This is the stage where additional tasks related to the project get identified, the necessary materials collected, and everything poised and placed for eventual action (images, extracts, additional needs, etc.) Jump to this section

3: Formatting, proofreading and publishing – Wherein the Guerrilla Translator takes the translated and edited text and formats it for publication in our web-magazine. Then, before releasing it to the world, she proofreads it one (hopefully) last time. Jump to this section

4. Social Media, post-production and re-publishing Wherein the Guerrilla Translator promotes the hell out of the great task she has accomplished, ties up any loose ends in this tale, and gives the project new life (and maybe lucrative sequels) by working to have it republished in different specific outlets. Jump to this section

Content curation, assignment of operatives

  • Wherein the Guerrilla Translator reads something outstanding, wants to share it with the group, who together consider whether and how to organize the material as a project.

Selecting material

This is how every Guerrilla Translation begins. As we’ve often expressed, more than translators, we’re content curators sharing across languages. This makes content selection a vital part of the process, and something we take very seriously.

This is why we strive to select really high quality, powerful articles with no immediate "expiry date". Another factor is saturation, we really favour quality over quantity. Many blogs and web magazines have a mistaken impression of the number of eyeball hours their audience is going to award them. So, in brief, we don't put out a huge amount of stuff, but what we choose to translate, has to be both high quality and concordant with our Founding Principles. Please read about our Content Curation Guidelines to get a better feel for the sort of content we like to feature (and the sort that we don't!).

We also ask all new arrivals to translate 5000 words (or edit 10000) before suggesting material to be translated pro-bono.(Read the reasons why here). If you are just starting out and want to choose from pre-selected material, please check out our Suggestions for Lovework material (target SPANISH) or Suggestions for Lovework material (target ENGLISH) group (ask for access!). We will talk about how this Loomio group functions in the next section.

Sharing it on TRANS/SUGGESTIONS Loomio threads

Once you've selected some suitable material for pro-bono translation, it's time to present it to the rest of the collective in our dedicated curation Loomio threads: here for target Spanish or here for target English). These Loomio threads are places for us to share high-quality curated material. We encourage everyone to read and comment on what's posted there, even if you choose not to take up any of the translations.

If you're not familiar with Loomio, this is also the perfect chance for you to get acquainted with it. Please click here for more Loomio information, tutorials and resources. It is also a good idea to open the Trans/Suggestion Group so that you can see what we're describing below (it'll make a lot more sense).

Anyone who is a member of the GT/GMC group will be able to post suggested material. Please note you should complete at least three different tasks when suggesting material to the threads:

  • When creating a new post, identify the title, topic and format (article, video, documentary, movie, etc.) of the suggested material.
  • Link the material to its original source.
  • Write down some lines introducing the article and why you feel it has to be translated.

Discussions will be held to decide whether the article is interesting enough for translating and fits GT’s Content Curation Guidelines and, if necessary, these can be voted on.

We’ll also try to find optimal translator/editor pairs for each article.

Approval and team assignment

Now the curated article has been shared on Loomio and other Guerrilla Translators have read it. Whether or not articles are translated, edited and published on our blog is decided by lazy majority. Every article in the Loomio thread should be taken to a vote (with Yes, No, Undecided, Block). If no one has blocked the proposal, or there hasn't been a majority of "no’s" in the five days following the posting of the article, it is then approved for translation/editing and publication. Similarly, if the proposed article isn't voted on, we'll also consider that a lazy majority. Articles can also be shared in the respective Slack channel to get a quick response (thumbs up, thumbs down) from other members or to draw attention to the fact that the article is being voted on in Loomio. This is especially recommended in cases where time is of the essence.

If anyone blocks the article, they will be expected to back up their reasons for doing so (referring to the content curation protocols). People voting "yes" and "no" are not committing to translate the article, just whether the article should get processed or not.

After reading and voting on the articles, Guerrilla Translators can then auto assign or suggest who'll take care of the translation, editing and proofreading, and formatting of the project. We'll go into each of those roles below. Translators are free to start the project, but we encourage you to find an editor and settle on a timeframe before going full-steam ahead.

Once accepted, the project gets transferred over to a Trello card (as you will see below).

Links for this section

Pre-production, translation and editing process

  • Wherein the Guerrilla Translator enters the material into our workflow system. Authors are contacted for permission and the material is translated and edited. This is the stage where additional tasks related to the project get identified, the necessary materials collected, and everything poised and placed for eventual action (images, extracts, additional needs, etc.)

Creation of a project Trello card

Once the material has been selected it is carried over into our workflow tool Trello. You can think of Trello as a big board with little cards. Each card can be a task or a project. We call translations “projects”. What we’re going to do is create the project in Trello and then watch its progress as it makes its way through the board, from left to right. Next we’ll give a brief overview of the procedure used in the translation boards, but you can get a more detailed look in the “How to” wiki entries linked below. First of all, we’ll log on to the target language translation board we’ll be using. In this case the GT: Translation ES board as our example is a pro-bono translation, target Spanish.

The board has a series of columns, each of these describes a possible stage in the process of getting a translation published in our web magazine.

To start, go to the leftmost column and look for a card clearly marked as “TEMPLATE”. This is a preformatted card that you can copy to make your project card. The first thing you have to do is copy the card (look for the "copy" button on the right hand column) into another column. The copy button leads you to a menu that lets you determine where your copy of card "lands", you can even copy it into a different board! That will come in handy later, after we've formatted the translation but for now, just copy the project to the "Next Up" column. Here's some info from Trello on how to copy cards.

Once copied, get out of the template card by clicking on the “X” in the upper right corner (or hitting the ESC key). Bingo! If everything's gone right you should have a clone of the Template card in the "Next Up" Column. Now we're gonna mess with it to turn the Template clone into the project card for our example translation.

As you will see, the sections for the template card are pretty self-explanatory but, if you need a step by step breakdown read this article: How to fill in a Translation Template card.

It's very important that you don't modify the template card!!! You want to go in, copy it and leave it as it is for the next person.

So, with that cleared, now you want to exit the Template card and go to your copy, in the "Next Up" column.

The first thing you want to do is to rename the card. Generally we use the title of the original article (although you can always shorten it if it's overlong).

Next, you'll go inside the card to erase the "Template Image" (Go to the section called "Attachments" and press on "X-Delete"). You also should erase everything under # IMPORTANT!! ERASE THIS SECTION AFTER COPYING

Once that's done, you have to fill in as many fields as you can at this stage. Stuff like the hyperlink for Guerrilla Translation's site will be inserted once you've generated the post. Same with the translated word count.

As you fill the "Translator/Editor/Admin" fields, add these persons (and yourself!) to the card by hitting the "members" button at the top right. Here's more info on adding members to cards.

Next up, you need to add labels to the card. This is done through the "labels" button, and here's more info from Trello on adding labels in cards.

For labelling things in the translation boards you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do we have the author’s approval for going ahead with the translation? If "yes" add the GREEN (GREENLIT) label, if "no" add the BLUE (APPROACH AUTHORS-PUBLISHERS) label
  • Is it a text translation? (Most of the material featured in the web-magazine has some translated text, but not always) If "yes", add the YELLOW (TEXT) label
  • Does the project involve Video or Audio work? (This can include subtitling, transcription, etc) If "yes" add the ORANGE (VIDEO-AUDIO) label.
  • Will this project be published as a Featured or Standard translation. First of all read about the difference between the two in this link. (If you're not sure, ask!). If it's going to be a "Featured post", label it PURPLE (FEATURED), if it's Standard Translation, label it RED (STANDARD). Easy!

We will cover more Trello features during the translation process, but for now, you can start experimenting with the "Due Date" feature. If you hit the “Due Date” button, you'll get a familiar looking calendar. Now that you're in the "Next up" column, you may want to determine a date for, say, having contacted the author or any preparatory work that the translation may need. It can also mean the date where you will start the translation (and, at that stage, you'll move your project-card to the next column... you'll see!). Here's more info from Trello on the calendar feature.

Now, if you still haven't contacted the author for permission... what are you waiting for!?

Contacting Authors

Relax! You don't have to write authors yourself and appear out of nowhere. We'll eventually expect you to take care of this part of the process but, if this is your first Guerrilla Translation, a member will take care of contacting authors. We have an excellent database and have a very high success rate in contacting authors, getting permission to translate and, often, forging great relationships.

Sometimes it's very easy and sometimes it takes a lot more work, but we usually get it done. This means that the member doing that work will take on the "pre-production" part of "Admin". She will add her name to the "roster" there. You can read more on the roles within a translation in the more detailed article about creating Translation Trello cards.

We've been contacting authors for a while, and we know what works and what doesn't when writing an email. If you’re the one contacting the author, ask us for assistance. If not, you will be copied in all correspondence and introduced to that author as the translator/editor. This initial contact will come in handy if you need to consult the authors about anything during the translation process. If you do decide to contact them, get a second opinion – we don't want to drive authors mad with unnecessary email!

Being copied in this kind of correspondence will give you a feel for how we contact people and motivate you to create the best translation possible. The author cares!

Preparing for the next steps

OK, let's imagine that author X is overjoyed to have us take on the translation of one of their texts. To celebrate this, we go back to the GT Translation Trello Board and reflect the author's approval. If you're still not familiar with Trello and you're finding it difficult to find the card for the project, you can do a couple of things.

  • Hit the "F" key. A "Filter" Menu will open up. Select your user icon and you'll only see the projects you're involved in. You can also search by label or due date, or any combination of the three.
  • At the top left of the Trello board, just to the right of the button labelled "Boards" you have a search box. Insert the name of the Translation project and it will pop up straight away (even if it's in another board!).

Found the card? Good. Now press the "Labels" button. De-select the blue label and select the green label. The project is now greenlit and ready to schedule!

Due dates, as mentioned before, reflect the date in which the project will move to the next column in Trello or "Stage". In this case, you can determine the date you'll start the translation or move it to either of the "In Process" columns, keep it in the "Next Up" column, or move it back to the "Backburner" column. Let's explain briefly what this column business is all about:

The "Backburner" and "Next Up" columns

The first two columns in the board are:

  • Backburner
  • Next Up

The “Next Up” column is for translation projects that have been approved by the author and assigned to a translator/editor pair, but the work has not yet begun.

If you think the project will have to wait, or that other projects should be prioritised, by all means, move it to the "Backburner" column. You can also do this if you haven't contacted the author. In fact, it's preferable to use the "Backburner” column only before the author has been contacted. If we've committed to translating something, we shouldn't lose sight of it. It's a deliverable and we should treat it as such.

The exception to this is authors with whom we have a special relationship. In such cases, any of their articles can be chosen and translated without first asking for permission. If we have not yet announced that we're going to do a specific translation to the author, it's ok to move the project back to "Backburner".

The "In Process" columns

As you can see, there are two "In Process columns"

  • Long term
  • Short term

You should be clear about which column your project belongs to before starting the translation process.

By "Long term", we mean that the translation (unless it's a mammoth) will be completed in three weeks to three months. Even if you start on the translation right away but plan to take it a few hundred words at a time, it should go here if it's going to take a month or longer to deliver to the editor. Editors have to plan their time too! The clearer you are with the delivery dates, the easier it will be for them to coordinate with you.

By "Short term" we mean that the translation is to be done within a week or so.

Respecting self-assigned due dates


Remember: The due date is not the date of publication. It reflects the date on which the next stage of the process should start. Stages are determined by columns in Trello.

Here we recommend caution, especially if it's your first time. Put the project in the "Long term" column. If you happen to produce a top-quality translation in a much shorter time frame, that’s great! The editor can then choose to take it up right away or wait a little bit more.

Once you've gotten the rhythm of the Tao of the Guerrilla Translator, you'll easily be able to determine which columns to put your project in before the actual translation starts.

By doing it right from the beginning you'll save yourself, the editor and the admin-person for the project a lot of time and pain!

Let's get on with the Translation process then.

Translation guidelines

Translation philosophy

Since you've read the Founding Principles, you know that we take a very personal and hands-on approach to everything: the selection of material, the translation process, and the sharing of completed work (via selected media outlets). One thing that can't be stressed enough is that we do not use CAT (computer-aided translation) tools, and it's crucial that those working with us feel as we do, and work accordingly. We really feel that having a team including a translator and an editor/proofreader for each piece ("two human brains") not only yields far superior results, but enhances our connection to the pieces being translated – of course, the translator must feel an affinity for a piece before choosing to work on it. It's basically: passion in, passion out. If it moves you to read and you really want to share it, then you're going to want to take that spirit and complete the work in a "handmade" style.

We want translation made by humans, crafted with care and attention to detail. We feel that it’s essential to get into the author’s skin to re-create their voice in the target language. Ask yourself, “How would this author write this exact same article if she spoke the target-language perfectly, if she was familiar with our cultural context?” This, in combination with getting every nuance of the author’s message across, is what we strive for.

If you’re having trouble getting into the author’s head and using your creativity to express their spirit, go online and watch some videos of the author speaking! This usually helps a lot.

As you may have noticed, while our organizational structure is very decentralised and we use a variety of software tools, when it comes to translation we're totally old school. We translate with love and care.

Where do I translate?

Although we have used both online documents and regular word processors for translation, we always work with track-changes. We therefore recommend any word processor (online or otherwise) as long as it supports track changes.

At the same time, you'll want to translate with all the resources you need handy, this includes the project's Trello card and a series of dictionaries and tools. For this we recommend that you create a translation-specific Browser-tab based workspace. Please read the link to find out what a BTBW is and how to create one.


We format our documents to make it easy to compare the translation to the original, both for you and the editor. To achieve this we alternate one paragraph of the original text, with its corresponding translated paragraph. Check the example below:

  Guerra de movimiento y guerra de posiciones

  War of Position and War of Maneuver

Abro ahora un delta extraño antes de volver al cauce central del río que es la pregunta por la fuerza de ese puñado de personas frente a una casa. Me sitúo así en el debate en torno a la idea de revolución que se dio en el marxismo de entreguerras, interesándome especialmente por el planteamiento del marxista italiano Antonio Gramsci. A primera vista es un salto muy extraño, pero se trata de un debate con resonancias bien contemporáneas. El pasado no pasa: es un depósito riquísimo de imágenes y saberes siempre actualizable (resignificable) desde los problemas y las necesidades del presente.

I’m veering off road for a bit before heading back to the highway, that being the question of how a handful of people have the strength to defend a home. Let's look at the debate on the meaning of revolution carried out in Marxism between the two World Wars, where we’ll focus on the approach favoured by the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci. At first it may seem like an odd jump, but it concerns a debate that is markedly contemporary. The past doesn't quite “pass”: it’s a rich deposit of images and knowledge, prone to updates and renewed sense-making from the perspective of our present problems and necessities.

...and so on. If you’re translating a particularly long paragraph and need to split it up in order to see both the original and translation and at a glance, you may, but mark the split with a row of capital “X’s” so you can easily reassemble the paragraph later.

Whenever you get stuck, or have a doubt or suggestion, insert a comment. You and the editor are a team dedicated to producing the best translation possible. At the same time, don’t “overload” the document with unnecessary comments. Use good judgement in how much you “load up” the document with comments, etc. The editor will be encouraged to solve as many of these without establishing a back-and-forth dialogue as possible, so offer her clear choices that can be sorted efficiently.

Additionally, in translating for our web magazine, you will ultimately be formatting headings and subheadings with the template in the back end of Wordpress. Indicate any subheadings in the original text in your translated document using “Heading 2”. This will make the Wordpress formatting process easier later. Here's a good image-based tutorial in using Styles in word-processors. Please read it if you haven't worked this way before. We also tend not to use bolded sentences, even if the original has them.

Other considerations

  • If the text has hyperlinks, it’s your job to find equivalent hyperlinks in the target language.
  • If the original text has footnotes, these must also be translated. Please mark them clearly in the body of the text with numbers in and square brackets ('[1], [2] and so on...). Gather all the footnotes together at the end of the document, but do not make footnotes in your word-processor. If you do, you'll give a huge headache to the person who's formatting the translation later; don't worry, he or she will make it all look pretty (and hyperlinked) when it goes up on the web. You should also preface this with a Heading 2 title saying "Footnotes"
  • If you run into any linguistic dead-ends that can't be solved within the text, you can add translators' notes. If there are no footnotes in the original, use the same numbering convention as above ([1], '[2] etc,...). However, if the translation features both footnotes and translators notes, the latter will be marked with lower-case letters instead of numbers ('[a], [b] etc,...)
  • If the original has images with captions, these have to be translated too.

Reviewing your translation

The fact that you’ll have an editor going through your translation and checking it against the original ‘’does not mean that you should do a lesser job’’. We expect all translators to edit their own translations before sending them off to the editor.

What you shouldn't do is obsess over stuff when you get “stuck” or when something sounds odd. Just mark it clearly for the editor so it can be seen with a new pair of eyes.

Before passing the translation on to the editor, we strongly recommend that you do two rounds of editing:

1. Comparing your translation against the original, to ensure fidelity, consider formatting and check any hyperlinks.

2. Read the translated paragraphs out loud to ensure that everything flows and sounds right.

In this second re-read, try to identify good excerpts from the text which we can eventually use for post formatting or social media. We're looking for paragraph length passages that will grab the reader's attention and make her want to read the whole article. Ask yourself, would this passage make you drop everything else to click on the article? That's what we’re looking for! There are more guidelines and technical explanations for choosing extracts in this entry. Without going into detail, you'll copy and paste the extracts as comments on the project's Trello card, in the original language (We will, obviously, use extracts excerpted from the final translated text, but it's good to "identify them" here).

Finally, read over your comments one last time. Is there anything that you can solve on your own now? Go for it.

You're now ready to pass your translation to the editor and do a little bit of Trello work.

From translation to editing, back to Trello

OK, you've done it! Your translation has moved on to the next stage! Now it's time to step away from the unassailable loneliness that is the translator's lot in life and make your work a collaborative activity!

For this we'll head back to the Trello project card you made earlier. If all has gone well, you will have finished your translation before the due date you set for yourself (or, if you didn't calculate the time it'd take you so well, you will have reflected this by changing the due date).

Uploading the translation and moving the card to the next stage of the process

So, now you're going to do two things.

  • a) Upload your translated document to the card itself. This is as simple as it gets: you just drag the file you want to upload until it hovers over the project card. The card will show you a prompt to add the file and you just drop it there. Here's Trello's help page talking a bit more about adding attachments to cards (includes nice pictures).
  • b) Exit the card (you can just press "Esc") and drag the card to the "Editing/Proofreading stage" column.

The project is now in the hands of the editor! The editor, being "subscribed" to the Trello card, will get a notification for this and, if you've been coherent with the due dates, will know to expect the attachment. Once you've carried out these procedures it is the editor's responsibility to write a quick note on the Trello card confirming that they've received the file. The ball is now in the Editor's and Project Admin's court.

However, editors are people and like everyone else, they can miss an email notification. If you see that the editor hasn't confirmed the document reception within a day, either @+mention them in the Trello card, or shoot them an email. If the editor doesn't give signs of life by then, cry for help – they may no longer be available. If this happens, the project can be pitched to another editor.

Mid-project Admin tasks

Now we will delve into a mid-tutorial Tao of the Guerrilla Translator vortex. Were you playing the part of the translator or the admin? It matters not, in the Tao everyone gets their share of screen time.

So, with the "Project Admin" hat on you can check on the extracts that have been chosen so far, see if the editor has changed the due date, so you can get an idea of when you'll format the post, etc.

Now, is a good time to choose images for the post. Selecting images is no small thing, it can either make or break a post. This is especially important when we're selecting images for a Featured post, but it's also an important factor in Standard Translations (the example we're using for this tutorial). You can read more about choosing images and image sources in this entry.

Additionally, are there any tasks listed in the checklist that you can take care of right now? If so, do them. It's much better to get these things sorted out mid-process, allowing for plenty of error, than in a rush at the end.

Editing Guidelines

For this next section we will stop playing the part of "The translator" and become "The editor". The translator and the editor should never be the same person, even though some translators are also qualified editors. Four eyes always see more than two. This is why we work in pairs. However, we encourage both translators and/or editors to be project managers for pro-bono translation work. With that cleared up, let's take a closer look at the editing process. Please take the time to read this even if you're not an editor. Most of it is just as applicable to translators.

The editor’s role

The editor is someone who has an excellent understanding of the source language —i.e. is able to detect all the subtle nuances— as well as excellent writing skills in the target language, including style, grammar and punctuation.

The editor’s role is essentially twofold:

1) To check whether the translation conveys the same meaning, tone, emphasis and register as the original text. This may require completely different wording in the target language, which is usually the case with idiomatic expressions and sayings. For example, if the original says "ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente" the equivalent in English would be "ignorance is bliss". The literal translation is obviously unacceptable, but so is a straightforward translation of the meaning such as "if you don’t know about something, it won’t make you suffer", because that would change the colloquial register of the original saying. To give another example: an accurate translation of "eso no lo digo yo" would be, for example, "I’m not the one who’s saying that",rather than simply "I’m not saying that" or (even worse) "that isn’t what I’m saying". The basic meaning is the same, but the emphasis is completely different.

There are also more subtle cases such as the conditional sentence "if X happens, then XX will happen", which is often translated as "si X ocurre, entonces XX ocurrirá", whereby “entonces” shouldn’t be translated (also note that the nouns X and XX should go after the verb in Spanish). Another common mistake is "even though" translated as "incluso aunque", even though “incluso” doesn’t need to be included in Spanish (pun intended / valga la redundancia). Most translators have a tendency to be too literal, because they’re not familiar enough with common usage in the source language or simply because of bad translation habits. But you can also find the opposite: translators who write very well in the target language and take too much artistic license in translating. The challenge is to make sure that the translation strikes the right balance between being true to the original intent and sounding natural in the target language.

Additionally, if the text includes hyperlinks, these need to be replaced with hyperlinks that lead to equivalent content in the target language. It is the translator’s responsibility to find and include those hyperlinks, but it is the editor who needs to make sure that a) they lead to the right place and b) that the linked content is relevant to the text.

2) Once the translation has been checked against the original text and the appropriate corrections and/or suggestions have been made, the editor needs to go over the translation again to make sure that it reads well and that the grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct. Look out for awkward or unnatural wording and word order, unnecessarily long-winded sentences, clumsy repetitions (propose synonyms such as awkward=clumsy), subject-verb or gender disagreement, incoherent or misleading meanings, inconsistencies in terminology, punctuation and format used throughout the text, incorrect capitalization and extra spaces between words.

For both phases 1) and 2) use as many dictionaries, style manuals and online searches as necessary. When in doubt, don’t just trust that the translator has done his homework. Always double-check. The quality of the final text that will be published is your responsibility, and any sloppiness may ultimately put Guerrilla Translation’s reputation (as well as your own) on the line.

Editing procedure

The editor should receive an email notification from Trello saying that the translator has uploaded the translation to the corresponding Trello card. First of all, let the translator know that you have received it by writing a quick note on the Trello card. Second, change the due date on the card to whenever you expect to have the editing finished.

The translation will be done in a word processing program with each paragraph of the original text followed by the translation. The editor will need to use two text editing tools in his or her word processor: track changes (or control de cambios), which allows the translator to see your corrections, and insert comments for additional comments and suggestions. The editor can activate track changes (in the tools dropdown menu) before beginning to edit the translation.

Corrections are made when the translation is unacceptable for any of the reasons mentioned above. To make a correction, delete the incorrect words (which will show up as struck through) and add the correct words right after them so that, when the translator accepts changes (using the corresponding tool), there are no extra spaces left between the deleted words and the new words. If the translator disagrees with any of your corrections she will have to tell you, and explain why. If you are not persuaded, rather than argue back and forth, it’s best to propose alternative “compromise solutions” until both of you are satisfied.

Suggestions are made when the translation is acceptable but the editor feels she has a better idea. So as not to mess up the text with suggestions and comments, select the text you want to comment on, and then click on comment in the insert dropdown menu. The text will be highlighted and a window will open up where you can write your suggestions. Unlike with corrections, it’s up to the translator whether or not she uses your suggestions. This tool can also be used if you feel you need to explain a correction that may not be obvious to the translator. Try to keep explanations to a minimum and as short as possible by pasting links to an online dictionary entry (or any other source) in the comment so that the translator can check herself.

If the translator is a beginner and hasn't followed the formatting conventions stated in the section above, cut her some slack, but make the necessary changes while explaining the formatting conventions using the comments tool.

You may also find comments made by the translator where she expresses doubts that you need to resolve. If, for example, the translator asks "should I say ‘objetivo’ or ‘gol’”, the editor should choose one of the two (or a better alternative) and correct it directly in the text. No need to state anything in the comment.

If you need to add footnotes or translator’s notes, follow the same guidelines explained in the "translation" section above.

Once this is all done, upload your edited document onto the corresponding Trello card (you can just drag and drop it).

Evaluate the translation. If it’s from someone in the collective who "had a bad day", just let your editing speak for itself and this person will most likely learn from the experience. But when editing texts from someone outside the collective, if the text is sub-par or obviously machine-translated, please state so on the corresponding Trello card. Extra work by editors should be rewarded.

Once the translator has accepted all your corrections, she will upload the edited file to the Trello card and move it to the formatting stage. But your job is not quite done yet. When the text has been formatted on the website (or wherever it goes) you will be responsible for the final proofread (see below). This is necessary for two reasons: 1) Mysterious things can happen in the formatting process; 2) Sneaky little typos that had gone unnoticed have a way of suddenly sticking out like a sore thumb once they’re in print or online. It’s one of those inevitable facts of life.

Making the final copy

Ok, so now we're going to play the part of "The translator" once again. In this section we'll explain how the translator goes through the revised document, accepts or rejects changes and, finally, produces a "clean copy" that can be easily copied and pasted into Wordpress.

Things to do in Trello when receiving an edited document

As explained in the preceding section, the editor will have uploaded their edit of your translation to the project Trello card (and have given you a heads up, in case you missed the notification).

Download the updated doc onto your hard drive and confirm receipt of the document with the editor. You should also update the due date to reflect when you think you'll have the final version ready. This is very important, as it affects the project admin who will have to budget his or her own time to format the finished document.

Going through the editor's changes and comments

Thoroughness and expediency are what we're striving for here. We don't want Guerrilla Translators who are happy to rest in their laurels. We see this as a continued learning experience for everyone involved and you should pay close attention to the editor's corrections, comments and suggestions. Pride should totally take a backseat here. The only thing at stake in this process is the quality of the finished translation that we will publish in our magazine, not "who did what".

Unless you're some sort of superhuman translator, as you go through the text, you will find corrections (struck through) and comments (highlighted). The former are things the editor considers unacceptable. If you agree with the corrections, accept them using the corresponding "track changes" tool. End of story. But if you strongly disagree (note, "strongly"), tell the editor, explaining why, and propose an alternative solution. This could either be done via email or, if it's too complicated, via phone or Skype. But try not to get bogged down in endless discussions.

Under comments you may either find the editor's explanation for a correction she has made or a suggestion to improve on something that is acceptable but, in the editor's opinion, not ideal. It's up to you to insert that suggestion into the text or not, but please try to be open-minded and accept as many suggestions as possible. They are usually there for a reason. If any comments involve choosing between one thing or another, go ahead and make the choice. No need to debate over issues that are simply a matter of taste.

We recommend that you mindfully take in the feedback given by the editor and make a mental note of recurring errors so that you can keep improving and become the superhuman, perfect translator that has never existed on the face of this Earth.

Cleaning up the text for the final copy

Once everything's sorted out and all doubts relegated to the past, make a copy of the finished text and rename the file "Translation name + WP FINAL". In this copy you will do the following.

  • Use the "track changes" tool to "accept all changes", and then exit the tracking mode.
  • Delete all comments.
  • Carefully delete every paragraph in the original language, leaving just the translation. Please, be very methodical about this and adopt a "measure twice, drill once" attitude. You don't want to accidentally erase a translated paragraph.
  • Make sure that there are no double spaces in the document. Here's an excellent trick to take care of that
  • Make sure that the paragraph spacing is 100% correct.
  • Make sure that all headings/sub-headings have been correctly inserted.
  • Make sure that the "[ ]" numbers for the footnotes in the text coincide with the same numbers on the explanatory texts at the bottom of the document.
  • Do a word count of the translated text. Don't include any intro paragraphs (unless they're especially long; then flag them for credit valuation). Insert the number in the Trello card, beneath the wordcount for the original. If you want a word count tool that isn't the one in your word processor, we recommend this one [1]

Uploading the WP-FINAL Copy back to Trello

OK, you should know the drill by now.

  • Drag the "clean" translation, labelled as "WP-FINAL" to Trello.
  • Move the project card to the "Formatting Stage" column.
  • If it's urgent or you see the project-admin hasn't acknowledged receipt of the clean file @tag her to let her know.

And that's pretty much it for the translator! You should, however, still pay special attention to Trello notifications for the project. The project-admin may think that the translated title is weak, that more revising is necessary or she may have some questions. In fact, you may be the project admin for this project! Or maybe you're not the translator but have edited the piece.

In any case, please do read what the project-manager has to do for formatting to get a sense of how much work goes into the process. Learning this will give you invaluable Wordpress and web-publishing skills, not just for GT/GMC but for anything you may decide to do in the future.

Additionally, you also want to be on hand for the Social Media campaign.

Formatting, proofreading and publishing

  • Wherein the Guerrilla Translator takes the translated and edited text and formats it for publication in our web-magazine. Then, before releasing it to the world, she proofreads it (hopefully) one last time.

Happy news all around. We, the collective, should have a good-as-it gets translation in our hands, translated and edited with care and formatted just right. We don't want the translation to stay on our desk though, do we? We want to share it with the world and, lucky us, we have just the place for it: our web-magazine.

The web-magazine is the heart of Guerrilla Translation, it's what's made our name and the reason we made a whole translation agency around it, to support its existence and to free up time so Guerrilla Translators can add quality content to it on a regular basis.

For publishing, we use a Wordpress installation hosted by our friends at mARTadero in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Wordpress is an Open Source Web publishing platform. Wordpress (hereafter, WP) isn't that complicated but, to make our web-magazine look as good as possible, we use a number of tricks to squeeze as much life out of it as we can.

On the one hand, we really encourage translators and copy-editors to do their own formatting for posts. At the same time, formatting for an online publication is anything but formulaic, so it's important to have some concept regarding composition and art design. If you aren't sure, try it out and we'll give you feedback and suggestions. In the end, proficiency in formatting will not only be a useful skill, but will also increase your number of pro-bono credits! As we expressed right at the beginning, for this itinerary we have chosen a Standard Translation, in Spanish and with no video content. It is one of the most basic of formatting “jobs” you can do for the web-magazine.

The best thing to do then is to follow the procedure briefly described below 'but being extremely careful to not publish anything that's unfinished. How do we ensure safe passage through our first Guerrilla Translation hands-on web-formatting experience? All shall be told!

Formatting for Wordpress

Let’s start again with a disclaimer. Our web-magazine and formatting conventions are not one-size-fits-all. The example "standard" post we'll be talking about features a lot of procedures which are somewhat modified and expanded upon on a case-by-case basis. You should work towards having a clear understanding of the whole formatting process, as it's not exactly the same procedure every single time. Which images should you choose? Where do you place them? Should you feature extracts? There are no yes/no answers to any of these questions, but having a good sense of aesthetics in web-formatting is something that can be learned with practice. The best thing is to surf the site and look for practical examples of how we've formatted previous posts.

If this is your first time formatting, don't panic!. A member with web-formatting experience will go over your work and explain whatever fixes were needed so you can learn by practising. Eventually you'll move on to formatting the somewhat more complex "Featured translations". It takes a while to get the hang of it, but you get a lot of satisfaction from having not just an excellent translation, but an excellent translation that looks great and, above all, makes you want to read it. Twice.

The next steps in this tutorial have been reflected in this Trello card as easy-to-follow checklists. Feel free to copy the Trello card so you can use it in conjunction with these guidelines.

Finally, don't forget that all of the material that you will need to create the post will, ideally, be gathered together in the project Trello card. This includes the final, properly formatted and WP-ready document with the translated text, suggested images and selected extracts. Remember that, at this stage of the process, the project card will be in the "Formatting/Proofreading Stage" column.

Creating your post

First of all, | log into Wordpress, this will take you straight to Wordpress' Dashboard. On the left-hand column, you will find a menu labelled "Post". Hover over that and a submenu will appear. From here you want to select "All Posts". On the next window that appears, you will find a field called “Search Posts”. Type in “template” here, and a template post will appear. Open this up and copy it. Next hover back over “Post” in the left-hand column, and this time select “New Post” from the submenu. Paste the template into the new post, and replace the text with your own translation, eliminating any formatting (block quotes, etc.) that do not apply. A large part of the procedure is exactly the same as the one described here, in Wordpress own help page.

A word on titling

Once the template is loaded, the first thing you want to do is retitle it. Titling is very important. Some titles which may work well in the original language article, don't really fit in our magazine, both in terms of tone and content. Remember that we feature content that will continue to be relevant over time. We title pieces as a literary magazine would, not as a daily newspaper. When in doubt ask, as your title will be under close scrutiny – a bad title can drive people away from an excellent translation.

Once you've settled on a title, please change the title in the project Trello card to reflect the "published" title. This helps us locate project cards more easily.

With that taken care of, make sure that you don't publish the post accidentally. This is very important!

Pre-scheduling the post for safety

Many people advocate for the use of the "draft" button but we think we've hit on a better method: Scheduling.

You can read more on Wordpress' scheduling features here. Scheduling basically allows us to determine the exact time and hour when the post will go "live". If you schedule correctly, you can then save the post as many times as you like and it won't get published... until you get to that schedule date.

So, for formatting our recommendation is that, after creating the post and writing the title at the top you schedule it to a date in the future, BEYOND the projected publication date. i.e., if the post if due to be published on the 25th of September, schedule it for the 30th of September for now. Schedule it for the 31st of December if you want to! This is something we'll modify later, once the post is fully formatted, to reflect the actual publication date but, for now, you want to make sure that you have some margin to play around.

The procedure for scheduling is very simple. However it is also "delicate". We want you to get it right the first time so, again please open this link here as it features an easy to follow image-based description for the procedure.

For the sake of thoroughness, and if you've opened the link, the procedure is as follows: In the menu at the right, within the box labelled "Publish" look for where it says "Publish Immediately/Edit". Hitting the "edit" button brings up a scheduling box where you can set the desired time and date. Once that's done, hit "OK".

Once you've hit "OK" and scheduled, the big blue "Publish" button should have changed to "Schedule"

Working within the template

Formatting the text

  • First of all, insert the lead image for the article. The image should be attractive and representative of GT's visual identity. This same image will likely also be used as the preview image for the post in the homepage and menus. It should be at least 900 px wide.
  • To keep the formatting conventions we recommend you type within the preformatted text for the intro.Standard translations often introduce the author in the first paragraph (in heading 3, grey type). Here you can also include something short about the translation which can then be reused for extracts and the like).
  • Paste your translation within the Lorem Ipsum text. Leave the License disclaimer text intact Everything from the License disclaimer down should be kept in.
  • The main text should be fully justified.
  • If you have double paragraph spacing: Copy all the html into a notepad.Go to find and replace. Find type:   and just leave a blank space in "replace". Replace all. Copy the text in the notepad and copy it back into the post.

Adding images, extracts and making it "look pretty"

If the text is over 500 words, we'll want to pepper it with images or with block quotes that appear in the original text. This, as noted above, is the most subjective part of the procedure and you'll need to have a good eye for it. Again, the best reference point is the work we've already published in the web magazine. Our general guideline is to either insert a relevant image or blockquote every 500 words or so to keep the post lively.

  • Images: If it's a quality image, center it. If it's less relevant, alternate between left and right justification, but don't go over 400-500 pix so the text can be read correctly. Try to avoid the "one line hanging under the image" syndrome.
  • Image Captions: You can add image captions to describe anything in the image that may be relevant to the text. These can carry hyperlinks if needed. Image attribution is usually placed at the bottom, but it can also be included in the image caption if necessary. Here's a short tutorial on image captions for Wordpress.

The Stuff at the bottom

By this we mean everything that's below the license mini-image and text. The license mini-image always goes after the last line of the body of the main text. Everything else (including footnotes, translator's notes, etc), goes in the section below. (You can create these footnotes by typing <hr> in the html). On standard posts footnotes begin with a series of credits, as detailed below. So, working from the template, you will:

  • Substitute the text in caps where it says "Article translated by INSERT TRANSLATORS NAME here and INSERT EDITOR'S NAME" for the names of the people who worked on the piece (of course!).
  • Fill image links. (Hyperlink to ACTUAL SOURCE IMAGE ON THE ARTIST's SITE and to the artist’s website or bio, i.e. two links)
  • If you haven't linked to it in the intro, fill "original article" link as such: Original (Hyperlink) published at/publicado en (Hyperlink homepage of where it was originally published). If you've already mentioned it in the intro you can either erase this or keep it in place, it's up to you.
  • Add any additional info ("Thanks to Joe Bloggs for legal advice" or whatever. Hit return and create an additional bullet point with the same format by copying the following html:
<p style="text-align: justify; padding-left: 30px;"><strong><span style="font-size: small;">INSERT TEXT + HYPERLINKS HERE</span></strong></p>

If there are any footnotes, add another horizontal line: <hr> after the Image/Original article credits. You can find the code we use for footnotes in one of the comments in the Trello "How to format a Standard Post" checklist-card

Categories, tags, featured images and excerpts

This is the stuff you'll find in the right hand column. Make sure that you go through the whole procedure, all of these aspects are very important. We will describe the relevant boxes in the right hand column in the order they're presented, top to bottom.


  1. Determine type of article: (Comic, Essay, Interview, Transcription,Translation) Sometimes it may be more than one.
  2. Determine author (Or authors, if more than one). Create a new subcategory if the author subcategory doesn't exist. All author categories are subcategories of the main "Authors and Collectives" categories.
  3. Determine Subject (Several may apply)
  4. If the post contains a video, tick it (and the type of video, based on the length).


The number of tags for a post is a hotly discussed item. In GT tags should be:

  • Concise and relevant
  • Non redundant (check for similar tags)
  • No more than five
  • ALWAYS include the author's name

Including the authors name ensures that, if the author has one of our nifty "book cover" sidebar bio images, it will show up on the post. However, be careful about tagging other authors we've featured (or are likely to be featured in GT) as a bio box will show up. To give an example, there are articles not authored by David Graeber but which, nevertheless, mention or quote him. But if you add Graeber's name to the tags, the bio-box will pop up and make it seem as if the article in question were authored by Graeber. There are ways to bypass this if needed, so if you really, really think it's necessary to tag another author, consult with the team first.

Here's an excerpt from an article entitled "Best practices for tagging in Wordpress".

How To Tag Effectively

Tags should be short and contain two or three words at most. They are meant to represent important details contained within the text so they should always be relevant to the post content.

The style in which you create your tags is extremely important. Using our sports website example again, “Atlanta Falcons” and “atlanta falcons” are two separate tags. If you use the title case tag on some posts and the lowercase tag on others you are not linking all of your posts together. In this example you are creating two pools of posts about the Atlanta Falcons and adversely affecting your site navigation. Pick a style for your tags and make sure it’s used consistently (I advise that you use title case).

Tags can be overused and underused. If you only use a tag two or three times in the life of your site then there is no point having it. It clearly isn’t relevant enough to your site and therefore isn’t necessary. So delete it. However, using the same tag on almost all of your posts is also a mistake. These tags are too general and will offer no real benefit to your site’s navigation.

You can easily ascertain the value of a tag by asking the following question: When a reader gets to the bottom of the post, would the tag potentially be interesting enough for him or her to click on? Using our sports example again, if I’d just read a post about the Atlanta Falcons and that tag was presented to me at the bottom of the post, there’s a very good chance I’d be interested in reading more. This would be a relevant and useful tag in my opinion.

You can read the full article here, to learn about tagging.

The "Display post in" menu

This menu is used to determine where posts are displayed in the homepage. You really don't have to mess around with it if it's a Standard Translation, as these automatically go to the "Latest Posts" section.

If it is a GT Blog post, however, you must tick the "Highlights" box. This will ensure that the blog post is displayed in the right place, (and not mixed in with the rest of the translations and transcripts).

Featured Image

The feature image is the image that will be displayed to preview the article on the web-magazine's homepage and in the menus. It's very important to specify which image is the feature image. Most of the time it will be the same image that leads the post. Click on "add Featured image", choose the same image, and you're ready to go! Images should always be wider than they are longer.

The Excerpt box

The Excerpt box isn't situated in the right hand column, but at the bottom of the main section of the "edit post". This is the text that will appear below the preview image. If you leave this box blank, the preview text will be chosen (and cut off) at random. To fill it in, you can either choose the translated version of one of the extracts you have in the Trello card, grab something from the post intro, write your own snippet or a combination of all of the above.

Don't write a novel here, though! The length of these extracts should be between 200 and 500 characters. 500 is the absolute maximum. Any more than that will mess up the formatting.

Wrapping it up

We trust that you've been saving your changes throughout this procedure. If everything has gone well, you should be able to preview the post (with the preview button). If this is your first time formatting for GT, get in touch with another editor to check on your work and clear up any possible doubts.

The important thing is that the translation is already up on our site. Now all that's left to do is proofread, schedule and plan how to share it.


What is proofreading?

The following is extracted from our wiki entry Difference between copyediting and proofreading

Editing is a process that takes more time, is more intensive and of a broader nature than proofreading. Just to clarify and for reference editing includes work such as reviewing and refining the text for consistent style, voice/tone and proper grammar, ensuring proper word usage, fixing awkward phrasing, possibly pointing out problems that may require a re-write, and also correcting spelling and punctuation in the process. Although the spelling and punctuation will naturally be part of the editing phase, it's not the last chance to fix these things.

Proofreading is the last stage before a work takes its final form, whether print or digital. At that point, all of the work listed above is finished, and it would likely be too late to get into a deeper level of change at the proofreading stage.

Proofreaders are also examining the work in its final, designed format, and so are responsible for typographical errors, the way that lines of text break and flow, etc. Proofreaders are not typically responsible for suggesting or making any kind of content changes.

Additionally, here are some links describing editing and proofreading. You can also use a little mnemonic trick to remember: editing is mainly for content, proofreading is the last stage review pre-press.

Proofreading in GT

As a digital medium we have found that it makes more sense to proofread articles once they are formatted on the website, as opposed to doing it on a word processor. If proofreading normally refers to print (think of the proofreader as someone who goes through a paper copy line by line with a ruler and a red pencil marking out typos and mistakes) the pre-scheduled, formatted posts on our website are the closest thing we have to a printed final version of our work.

This is the reason why it's important to schedule with enough time for the editor to proofread the article before it goes live on the web page. Whoever edits the post will notify the editor that it's formatted and ready to be proofread on the project Trello card.

To proofread “live” on the website, access the dashboard/posts menu to locate the preformatted post. Once located, we recommend that you open it in edit mode ‘’and’’ in preview mode so you can see how the final version looks. Read carefully, even out loud if needed, the formatted post preview and look for possible typos or grammatical errors. If there's anything that you feel can be improved, please do so. All the actual editing though will take place in the “edit” page. If you're not too familiar with WordPress, please don't stray from the “Visual” tab, as you don't want to mess with the HTML. In fact, even within the visual tab be extremely careful when changing anything so formatting is not affected. If anything goes wrong, don't panic, WordPress will regularly autosave the post for you, but you’ll want to get in touch with the person who formatted the post to sort out any issues before continuing. If you need to add footnotes or the like, again, contact the person who formatted the post.

As you're doing this, save your changes regularly and update the preview page. If you have any doubts, @+mention the translator on the Trello card.

When you're satisfied with your proofreading work, please notify whomever has formatted the post to determine together the actual publication date and move the project card to the calendar board. We will describe this procedure in the following section.

Updating original language extracts with translated extracts

As a reminder and, if you haven't done so already, make sure to include the final translated versions of the extracts you chose during the translation in the project Trello card. It is generally recommended that you do this after proofreading to ensure consistency. If you only have the selections listed in the source/original language, just look for their translated equivalent and list them clearly in the project Trello card.

Scheduling and preparing Social Media

At this stage the translation is fully finished, formatted, proofread and ready to launch into the world. Congratulations! However, we want it to be read by as many people as possible, so its launch should be scheduled carefully and the project's Social Media campaign should be prepared to ensure maximum visibility (and, hopefully, virality!).

Moving between Trello boards

As the translation has already been formatted and proofread, its related project card should now be in the DONE column of the Pro-bono Translation Trello board. Once translations are ready to be scheduled, they are moved from the Translation Board to the Publishing Schedule or "Calendar" board (There's a different one for every target language).

The cool thing about Trello cards is that they can be moved from column to column. If you think of the translation process as an item in a production chain, it simply moves from one place to the other within the "factory". Pro-bono translation items go from initial mention in Slack to discussion and an approval vote in Loomio to production and promotion in Trello. It goes like this, (we will use a Target-English translation for this example)

> Curation (Loomio TRANS/SUGGESTIONS Group) > Translation, copyediting, formatting and Proofreading (Pro Bono Translation Board) > Scheduling Board > Republishing Board.

Here's a brief recap of the process

Moving the project card to the Scheduling/Calendar Board


Preparing Social Media



Links for this section

Social Media, post-production and re-publishing

  • Wherein the Guerrilla Translator promotes the hell out of the great task she has accomplished, ties up any loose ends in this tale, and gives the project new life (and maybe lucrative sequels) by working to have it republished in different specific outlets.

Social Media Campaign