Public Lab Research note

Translate guides!

by liz | October 13, 2020 15:24 13 Oct 15:24 | #24746 | #24746

If you visit, you will see that the balloon mapping guide has been translated into a dozen languages—Arabic, Castellano/Spanish, Portuguese, Georgian, Hebrew, Korean, Chilean, Ukranian, Russian, Turkish/Türkçe, Dutch/Nederlands, and German. These translation efforts take place in Google Docs Presentations, which exist for each tool listed on Many of these translations were made by people organizing workshops in their areas, and sharing back the resources they created with the community.

NOTE: These collaborative translation efforts build on collaborative writing efforts, such as It's collaborative turtles all the way down! 🐢

To translate a tool guide, follow these steps:

  1. Visit
  2. Browse through the headers to find the tool you are interested in. If you do not see the tool you are interested in already listed, skip down to the next section in this post.
  3. Find the link that reads something like "Anyone can print, add to or edit this Google Doc," and click this link.
  4. Make a copy of this doc titled with the "[same name]—name of new language"
  5. In this new Google Doc, replace the existing texts with your translated texts.
  6. Adjust the setting on your doc to be "viewable to anyone on the internet"
  7. Export a PDF, naming it "[tool name]—language name"
  8. Return to, and click edit
  9. While editing, scroll down to your tool's section, and A) add a link to your translated Google Doc following the format of how others added links to their translations, and B) Drag and drop the PDF so it uploads onto the page as well. Click "Save".
  10. Hooray, you did it!

If your tool does not already have a guide listed:

Your mission will be to create a printable worksheet for the tool, like a one-page handout, that's great for workshops. To get started,

  1. Find where documentation on your tool or method by A) searching in the Search box on the navigation bar at the top of on all pages, or by B) browsing
  2. Create a google doc with a few simple illustrations, and a few brief captions that will be suitable for using during a workshop. Keep it to one page, or a few pages. Shorter is better! The website is the best place for long form documentation, so no need to duplicate everything.
  3. Return to to and click the "pencil icon" to edit the page. Add a header for the tool you're working on. Under this header, add a link to your Google Doc, with the link text reading "Anyone can print, add to or edit this Google Doc". Click "Save".
  4. Hooray, you did it!
  5. Return to the steps above on translation.

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