Translation today: How to use XTG files with SDL Trados, QuarkExpress and CopyFlow Gold

In the few last decades technological advances and the process of globalization have made the work of translators shift into several new dimensions. The dramatic increase in the information to be translated and the availability of translation-memory tools have changed both the translator’s work processes and the relations with clients.

In fact, technology is not an option in today’s professional world; it is a necessity. Virtually all translating is aided by computers and the advantages presented by technology are so great that they cannot be refused.

However, when it comes to technical translation and the translation of manuals, the translator has also to face technological issues in order to respond to the needs of client, for example in terms of file formats also. It might happen that the translator has to find new solutions and new technology. And each new technology requires new investment, not just in purchasing tools but also in learning how to use them.

Investment in a certain technology can be essential if you are to keep up with the changes of the market and the new requirements of a client. The jump in fact is usually made when a client or intermediary offers you work requiring knowledge of a certain tool. You then have to learn very fast, but you are at least sure that you have the right tool for the available job.

That is the case of manuals produced with QuarkXPress, a computer application for creating and editing complex page layouts in a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) environment. To translate QuarkXPress files with CAT tools, first you have to find one supporting them and then you need to export them to a format that can be processed in a CAT tool and then import them back into QuarkXPress after translation.

What is an XTG file?

When I was first asked to translate a manual split in 300 .xtg files, first I had to learn what an .xtg file is and then discuss with the client the best way to prepare the files for translation and which tools we both needed for these projects. On my side, I had to find a CAT tool able to translate these files, and my choice went for SDL Trados Studio 2011.

Let’s go back to defining xtg files: An XTG file (e.g.: filename.xtg) is a tagged file generated by Quark. This is the file that can be reimported into Quark after translation. Text from Quark can be extracted using other filters, e.g.: Trados Story Collector or CopyFlow. In my case, the client does use CopyFlow, which enables the end user to automatically import and export text into QuarkXPress documents.

After several attempts to get the proper result once imported the translated file into QuarkXpress, we got to the following workflow.

Translating .xtg files

To translate QuarkXPress files in SDL Trados Studio, you need to export them to a format that can be processed in SDL Trados Studio and then import them back into QuarkXPress after translation.


To prepare your files in QuarkXPress:

  • If you have a single story, export to XTG (XPress Tagged Text) format and select Unicode (UTF – 16) encoding.
  • If you have multiple stories, SDL recommends exporting the QuarkXPress content to TAG format using the CopyFlow Gold plug-in.

To prepare your files in SDL Trados Studio:

  1. Select Tools > Options from the menu bar. The Options dialog box is displayed. This is where you can specify your default file type settings.
  2. Select File types > QuarkXPress export > QuarkXPress filter settings from the navigation tree. The QuarkXPress filter settings are displayed on the right.
  3. Specify your QuarkXPress filter settings.
  4. Select File types > QuarkXPress export > Tag verification from the navigation tree. The Tag Verification settings are displayed on the right.
  5. Specify your Tag Verification settings and click OK to close this dialog box.
  6. After translation and review is complete, perform one of the following to convert the translated document back to XTG or TAG format:


  • Select File > Save Target As from the menu bar.
  • If you are working with projects, select the Project > Batch Tasks > Finalize from the menu bar:
  1. Import the XTG or TAG file back into QuarkXPress.

In general, the way to advance within the profession usually involves more conceptual control over technology, not less. Too often, the dominant industry workflows impose their own specific technologies and processes. Only when translators are critically aware of the available tools can they hope to be in control of their work.

This blog post has been contributed by Natalia, she is German and English to Italian principal translator at If you need a professional translation service in any language, at your translations are in safe hands, believe me. As a translator you a welcome to easily subscribe for translation jobs here.

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

* Source: SDL Format Guide

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *